Tips On Dealing With Depression

Foggy Morning Over The Golden Gate Bridge

I wrote this post on Sept 9, 2011 and have kept it unpublished until now as a way of dealing with my depression at the time. Something small happened that brought me into an unshakeable funk for the next couple of days. It was strange to me because I couldn’t remember the last time I was depressed. Optimism is my middle name! Now that I think more about it, perhaps there was a correlation to the events that occurred on 911 given I lived just a couple blocks away. Depression is an incredibly weird animal that comes and goes as it pleases. It’s hard to find a cure, but there are things we can do.

I’m depressed and I don’t know how to shake the feeling. 10 hours ago, something unfortunate happened and it continues to linger in my mind. In these ten hours, I ate some lunch, hung out with a friend, took a nap, went grocery shopping, and ate some dinner. After all this time, I still feel melancholy.

Nobody close to me died. I didn’t get fired. Nobody insulted me to my face. They just do so behind my back. Instead, all that happened was I lost a critical doubles tennis match against a supremely tough opponent. We were one of three teams to lose, resulting in my entire team losing 2-3. I let my teammate down. I let my entire team down. I am a loser.

You may say it’s kind of ridiculous to be depressed after a league tennis match loss, but I can’t help it. It’s not like I can control depression when it comes. It just comes and hangs around like a dark cloud before sun rays beam it away.

UNDERSTANDING DEPRESSION

If I didn’t try so hard, I don’t think I’d feel down at all. The problem is, I do take tennis seriously by watching what I eat, exercising regularly, practicing 3X a week, and even working with a personal trainer to make me stronger. When you do all that and still lose, it’s gut wrenching.

The thrill of victory and the agony of defeat is very real. Winning in sports is very much like winning in the stock market or in gambling. The highs are very addicting and the losses can be devastating.

I understand why some people just don’t bother to compete. Losing is just too painful sometimes. I understand why many people don’t want to take any risks in their careers, love lives, or dreams. Being comfortable is better than being in pain if we fail. I generally shake off the sadness of losing after a couple hours, but for some reason, this one has stuck with me for much longer than usual.

I hope that I never go through depression again, but I know it’ll come because there are things and people I care about who will eventually go away.

Where you are depressed with being alone, not being where you want to be in your career, being broke, losing a loved one, or plain just don’t know, here are some things on dealing with depression that may help.

DEALING WITH DEPRESSION

* Eating. Who doesn’t love a nice 28 day dry-aged rib-eye with a baked potato filled with the works? For those vegetarians out there, how about a delicious veggie sandwich with alpha sprouts, tomatoes, lettuce, and manchego cheese with a side of creamed corn? Eating makes me happy and therefore I love to eat. Unfortunately, eating can also make you poor and overweight if you eat too much. The funny thing when I’m depressed, I lose my appetite and end up not eating much of anything. When I’m depressed, I think about how fattening all the good stuff is, making me a little more depressed about not being able to eat!

* Shopping. Spending money to feel better about yourself provides temporary joy, but could lead to months of regret as you pay off your credit card bill. Instead, go ahead and shop for the things you want, enjoy their presence, and return the items once you feel better about yourself. Return policies are usually 2-3 weeks long, so hopefully you’ll recover from your feelings by then. I hardly ever go shopping when I’m not depressed, hence I would never go shopping when I’m depressed. Spending money on things would probably make me more depressed because I’d feel like I’m losing my hard-earned money!

* Drinking. Drinking numbs the pain, but I’ve never understood the allure of drinking while feeling depressed. It costs money, gives you a headache, dehydrates you, and makes you want to vomit sometimes. The drunken feeling only lasts for a little bit, therefore you have to keep on drinking to maintain your numb state. That doesn’t sound very healthy or much fun at all. I’ll give drinking a pass. OK, maybe one or two drinks is fine. Just don’t go overboard.

* Drugs. I’ve never taken Prozac or any other type of happy pills before, but supposedly they work. Although, I have tried other more natural substances before. I suppose the main issue is to not get hooked on drugs. The closest thing to drugs I take is the occasional Tylenol for a headache, or Advil for when my body aches after a long match. If you’ve ever taken anti-depressants, please share with us if they worked for you or not, and what the downsides are.

* Talking. Calling up a friend or loved one is always a nice thing to do. Find someone supportive who makes you laugh and suddenly all your pain seems so far away. The problem for me is that when I’m depressed, I don’t feel like talking to anybody.

* Writing. Putting your thoughts down on “paper” is a very cathartic way of dealing with your emotions.  Those with personal journals and blogs are by their very nature more introspective. We tend to try and understand why things happen the way they do. I told myself after the 9th hour of feeling sad that I would write a post about how I feel.  One hour and 1,400 words later, here’s my post. I’m feeling a little better because at least I’ve used my sadness to create something productive.

* Playing Music. Some of the most beautiful songs have been written by artists in their darkest moments. All those great love songs have been been inspired by someone. I love to pick up the old Martin guitar and strum some sad tunes from Mazzy Star.  It gives me so much relief.

* Reflection. Everyday I tell myself how lucky I am. And because I tell myself I could have been born into poverty in the most destitute place on Earth, I try not to take anything for granted. So when I’m depressed, I get kind of angry for feeling the way I do because I know I’ve got it better than so many. The problem is, then I feel ashamed for feeling the way I do because of what I know. Living overseas for 14 years growing up gave me perspective. Perspective is what I depend on to help me snap out of my funks.

* Sleeping. Sleeping is my #1 cure for depression. It’s free, it’s easy, and doesn’t require much effort. There’s nothing better than a good cry and then a good sleep afterward. When I have my occasional allergy attack, my main medicine is not Claritin or Zyrtec, it’s sleep. I lay down on my sofa and just dose away. Sometimes I dream of beautiful places. Other times I see myself succeeding in whatever that is holding me back. More often than not, I feel rejuvenated after a good nap or overnight rest.

PUTTING THINGS IN PERSPECTIVE

What makes my depression all the more perplexing is that I realize losing a USTA league tennis match is nothing in the grand scheme of things. Children are starving and people are dying out of hate everyday for goodness sake. Stop being such a baby! Yet, does this make my depression any less real? No. Is one’s depression “better” than another’s depression? Of course not.

Everybody gets depressed about something and it’s not like we can turn it on and off like a light switch. All we can do is reflect and hope it goes away. It’s hard at the heart of the moment, but the more we understand how fortunate we are, the more we can realize how great life really is!

Readers, what do you do when you receive the occasional bout of depression?  What is the longest you’ve ever felt depressed before?  Please share your tips!

Note: In “Finding The Motivation To Kick Your Opponent’s Ass,” I talk about how my team the very next year ended up winning the San Francisco City Championships. It’s strange how we can go from failure to sometimes achieving great success if we stick with something long enough. Another post worth reading is, “How Playing Sports Can Help You Get A Job, A Wife, And A Life.” Just be careful. The harder you try, the more agony in defeat you will feel.

My #1 favorite song to listen to when depressed:

My #2 favorite song to listen to when depressed:

Regards,

Sam

Copyright 2012. Original content authorized only to appear on Untemplater.com. Thank you for reading!

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Unconventional Guides

{ 22 comments… read them below or add one }

Sydney December 8, 2012 at 4:15 pm

I think we’ve all gone through mild depression at one time or another. I went through some rough patches when I was in middle school that lasted many months but I didn’t have severe depression. I like the tips you listed and you commentary! I definitely listed to a lot of somber music when I was feeling down.

I’m glad you’re feeling better and it’s understandable that you were down for a little bit since tennis is something you’re so passionate about. I find writing helps a lot myself too when I’m feeling depressed. It’s nice to purge our feelings onto the computer and I always feel better afterwards.

I know someone who takes depression medication and she told me getting the dosage right is what’s really important and has to be done with the help of a professional. It takes time for the medication to start working and sometimes it takes several adjustments to get the dosage right.

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krantcents December 9, 2012 at 10:44 am

I might disagree with your use of the word depression. I think I would use disappointment. I know I do not handle failure or disappointment very well, but I only dwell on it for a shorter and shorter period. My cure (it works for me) is action! I find taking action cures a lot of things such as frustration, depression or disappointment. There is always something you can do. Even, if it is just practicing (tennis) until you get a rematch!

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Financial Samurai December 9, 2012 at 11:00 am

Unless you know how I’m feeling, it’s hard to judge. It’s easy for you to say, “just go practice” until a rematch. That’s the last thing I wanted to do.

I’m happy you’ve never felt depressed before. But I promise you, once you feel it, you’ll know, and it is a hard funk to get out of.

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Jeremy Noel Johnson December 9, 2012 at 2:02 pm

Sam, this is an article I can definitely relate to as I battle depression on and on and I attribute that depression to ruts I get into where it becomes difficult for me to take action because I feel so gloomy and melancholy.

I’ve found that admitting to myself that I am depressed is a helpful first step. Then I try to get some rest and take some quiet time to reflect and get rid of all my expectations for myself and others. Part of the reason I get depressed is in relation to a recent post you wrote about desire bringing suffering.

Whenever I find myself wanting more than I have, I get depressed because I don’t have it. When I quietly reflect on just how good I have it and the free opportunities available to me, it helps.

More often than not, I just have to ride out the period of depression and then get busy when the cloud lifts. The past few weeks were a bout of depression for me off and on and I think the tail end of it is over. Here’s to happiness and progress. Thanks for sharing honestly and openly about yourself.

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Financial Samurai December 9, 2012 at 10:19 pm

Hi Jeremy,

Thanks for sharing your thought. It’s such a strange thing to have this cloud that doesn’t go away isn’t it?

You’ve got a wife, family, a home, a great job, and you’re way fitter than you were 10 years ago! I say that is some awesome stuff. We’ve got to keep reminding ourselves how lucky we are, and hope that the funk goes away sooner rather than later.

Sam

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Veronica @ Pelican on Money December 9, 2012 at 8:47 pm

Sorry to hear you experience a period of depression on the day of all days…
I’ve been depressed several times in life, the worst of which came when I was unemployed – a few days from being homeless. Money situation got so bad at one point that I had a total of 3 dollars to my name, with nothing to pay the rent, insurance, bills etc… and no job / income in sight. Out of all the things you mentioned of dealing with depression, I tried all but shopping and drugs. Shopping – because I didn’t have anything to spend and drugs – because I couldn’t afford them. It was the lingering feeling that next month I’ll be on the streets that made me lose all hope. Well, almost all of it. The only reason I’m here commenting about it today is because I decided enough was enough and gave depression the middle finger. I remember my thoughts at that moment and they went something like this: “F. U. depression, F. U. homelessness, F. feeling pitty for myself, it’s time to pull my s**t together and get out of this situation!”

3 days later I made more money than I have in all of my previous years of working. All thanks to affiliate marketing.

It’s really tough to give advice on depression because it sounds easy in my mind, but when it comes to actually dealing with it – there’s no way of knowing what the other person is going through. It’s really tough. I guess what helped me as well was support from friends and family. If I could give advice on depression it would probably be: seek emotional support.

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Financial Samurai December 9, 2012 at 10:16 pm

Glad you made it out of your funk! I’m impressed you went from broke to making more in all your previous years working in three days. How did you do it? What niche did you decide to pursue in affiliate marketing? I’ve got a lot to learn, and don’t want to stop!

Tx, Sam

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Veronica @ Pelican on Money December 10, 2012 at 11:27 am

I was very very fortunate. For starters, it just so happened that someone wanted to buy several websites from me that I had been maintaining for a few years. (they were all the same niche but haven’t been generating any income). This gave me a good chunk of money to keep me afloat. The product that made me a lot of money quickly was a piece of software for a popular Facebook game. It was designed to automate tasks and make people money while they sleep. I took advantage of then-viral features that Facebook has since buckled down on. It also helped that I got in contact with a person who had access to 24 million fans on their pages and agreed to run some promotions for me in exchange for a cut of the profits.

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Savvy Scot December 10, 2012 at 1:32 pm

Thanks for sharing… A very relevant time of year for some too. This makes me think further and about the situation here in the UK – the prank call from the Aussie presenters that was the tipping point for a poor nurse. Stay strong :)

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Financial Samurai December 12, 2012 at 3:32 pm

I read about the nurse. That is so sad she committed suicide?

I’ve found that living in a place where there is more sunshine really helps. When I was on the east coast, I felt these moods more frequently.

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Edward Antrobus December 10, 2012 at 8:12 pm

I used to be a chronic depression sufferer. I went through 3 major bouts of depression that required therapy. Music helps a bit; the last time, I probably listed to Staind’s Break the Cycle over 500 times. I also slept a lot back then. It didn’t help me feel particularly better, but at least I was able to shut my brain off.

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Financial Samurai December 12, 2012 at 3:33 pm

Totally relate about just shutting the brain off through sleep. That’s all I want to do when I’m sad. I hope you are better Edward!

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Money Beagle December 11, 2012 at 4:46 am

Except for rare moments, I spent a lot of time in my 20′s and even early 30′s in a somewhat depressed state. Definitely went through moments of absolute despair. Luckily I had friends, family and later a wonderful girl who stuck by me and she finally helped me get the help I need.

Thanks for sharing that story. It’s always tough.

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Financial Samurai December 12, 2012 at 3:34 pm

Hi MB, hopefully your depression has waned the older you get. Was there anything you did in particular that helped ease the pain?

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Brick By Brick Investing | Marvin December 11, 2012 at 12:25 pm

Thank you for sharing your story I know first hand how hard it is to talk openly about depression. Upon returning from my first deployment I had a wave of depression and the thing that made it worse was that I thought coming home would alleviate a lot of the things I had experienced.

I’m no expert in treating depression but what I can say is that without professional help all you can do is self medicate and EVERYONE has a different way of self medicating. As long as you are not harmful to yourself or anyone else I think it is best to let individuals self medicate in ways that work best for them.

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Financial Samurai December 12, 2012 at 3:36 pm

Hi Marvin, that is perplexing regarding feeling depressed rather than elated as you say. We’re you able to find an explanation why? Or is it like so many mental things where it’s just so hard to figure out sometimes?

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Brick By Brick Investing | Marvin December 23, 2012 at 6:49 am

It was hard to figure out and being so young at the time didn’t make it any easier. It’s one of those hard life lessons that had to be lived to understood. When it was all said and done I’m glad I experienced it.

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Kathleen, Frugal Portland December 11, 2012 at 2:05 pm

Beautiful. I don’t know what it’s like to feel depressed — I think, at most, I’ve been very sad at different points in my life. Luckily never over the line to depression. So although I can’t relate, many of your ideas touch a nerve for me. Thanks, also for the songs. My favorites are “Mad World” and “Streets of Sarajevo” fwiw.

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Financial Samurai December 12, 2012 at 3:38 pm

You are lucky then Kathleen! I don’t know how to describe depression but by saying it’s in unshakeable funk that you don’t know when will go away. Eventually it does, but in the meantime, you don’t really want to do anything.

Will check out the songs!

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My Wealth Desire (MWD) December 13, 2012 at 1:58 am

I think if we are busy making money and appreciate what we have, depression can be avoided. These tips are helpful to others out there. Thank you for sharing

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Kevin @ Invest It Wisely December 13, 2012 at 7:53 am

As someone that’s gone through some significant bouts in the past myself, unfortunately, depression sometimes isn’t that easy to get over; I wish it was. ;) I know how good we have it, but sometimes there’s a part of my brain that doesn’t want to listen and just wants to single out the faults or the mistakes. Depression is usually not about absolutes; it’s about relatives.

One of my favourite depression cures is to watch a comedy, listen to some uplifting music, watch a nature documentary or better yet, go into a park, walk through the trees, and feel the sun and the wind. Sometimes depression can be debilitating, but sometimes it’s telling us something useful and providing a much needed signal toward the light.

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Barbara Friedberg December 19, 2012 at 5:49 pm

When I’m down I work, clean, and distract myself. I also write down my thoughts and try to rationally counteract the illogical ones. I try to remain temperate and accept the highs and the lows of life. Easier said than done.

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