We all carry the depression gene, and just like cancer we all have our own triggers to set it in motion. Like any illness, understanding these triggers allows you to not only treat the condition but also manage any possible relapse and subsequent effects. There is plenty of scholarly evidence that depression can in some cases have a hereditary link. Does this mean that for those of us that have suffered or currently suffer from depression that we are going to pass it onto our children? Well yes, and no. My experience tells me (and yes I am not an expert or a doctor) that the physical environment is as much our enemy as our ally. We can to a large degree control our physical environment, however we cannot control our genetics.
In my mind I see it as, don’t sweat the stuff you can’t change, but work on what you can change. For instance, you can improve your general wellbeing regardless of your socio-economic position. All it really takes is motivation and some commitment. Unfortunately these are two terms that are often pushed way back into the mind for people suffering depression or anxiety. The past five years has taught me about how well my brain and body are connected and how each of them send me signals that all is not well. These are my triggers, these are my warning signs. I have put in the time to micro-examine my behaviour, my health and how my body and brain changes to deal with challenging situations. In simple terms, I spent allot of time staring at the wall and crying whilst trying to get some answers, and yes they did come.
The next piece of my puzzle was the vulnerability. My unwillingness as a man (sorry its my own reference) to allow my guard down, to allow my façade to be seen with cracks actually feeds the denial trigger. Forget about allowing other people to see your façade broken, start with yourself, start with answering those hard questions to yourself before worrying about the outside world. The people who love you will in all likelihood be quite perceptive to your façade, and if they are real friends will love you anyway. I know this is the case for my real close friends, we love each other for all our faults, even the ones that drive us crazy 🙂 Denying your vulnerability or repressing it also builds anxiety, simply because your mind knows what you are trying to convince your body to do. You can do it, but essentially you are cheating yourself. You are taking the easy way, not the right way.
The social stigma of being seen by your peers as a person who is depressed is one of the hardest things to work through. I spent many months trying to find a way out of having to admit openly I was not ok. What I was doing though is holding back all the good work I had done by hanging onto the denial, that in turn kept feeding the anxiety about sharing my woes. I now find that the more I talk about it the easier it is to not only admit but to openly offer my experience to people who I can see are on a similar road. In some sort of weird way, I seem to have people gravitating to me that do have real issues, was it simply because I put my hand up and that gave them the courage to say, ‘you know what, I feel like that all the time’. Whatever the cause, whatever the trigger, I do feel compelled to help. Sometimes all people need is an ear, a blank face to take the emotions, the tears, or the silent cry for help. Sometimes people like me, just want to know that there are other people who get it. Who are a little lost but are more than capable.
For the regular readers of this BLOG I am starting to work on the male version of Six Degrees of Separation. The female version is here if you are interested;
For new readers, I encourage you to go back to the start and read from the beginning. It might help build the picture a little better.
For now though, its time to keep moving. Forward….