It’s not what happens to you,it’s how you react

This is my first blog in six months. The reasons behind my blog vacation will be revealed over time. Suffice it to say that the quote above tells a story. Human beings are stronger and more resilient than they imagine. Everyone experiences bumps in the road of life, however, some are small and others are like potholes that can damage any vehicle. The lesson to be learned is that it’s not what happens to you but how you react to the situation. When faced with a life challenge, we have only two clear options. Either we retreat into our own shell and avoid the world or we seek help from loved ones, health professionals, and find our inner strength.

Now this is easier said than done. If you are experiencing a clinical depression, for example, you are facing a monumental struggle. And that struggle is attached to stigma that exists in society today. If you suffer from a medical condition that is visible, then it’s apparent to the naked eye – you’re in a wheelchair, you have a cast on your arm or a scar on your face. If you suffer from depression, no one knows because it’s not visible to the naked eye. 

So what is the solution. It’s easy to hide away and let the negativity take over your life. But it’s not your fault as depression is a chemical imbalance in your brain which means that if you were to have a brain scan it would reveal that your seratonin levels are low. Without a support system, it’s a very difficult challenge to overcome. If you go back 50 years when psychology was less advanced, depression was never diagnosed so many depression sufferers resorted to alcohol. 

The solution is to first admit that you are in a clinical depression. How do you know? If your mood is depressed for more than two weeks in a row and there are changes in your sleeping or eating patterns, then you are probably depressed. You can go online and take a Beck test developed by Dr Beck.

Aaron Temkin Beck (born July 18, 1921) is an American psychiatrist and a professor emeritus in the department of psychiatry at the University of Pennsylvania. He is regarded as the father of cognitive therapy, and his pioneering theories are widely used in the treatment of clinical depression. Beck also developed self-report measures of depression and anxiety including Beck Depression Inventory (BDI),Beck Hopelessness Scale,Beck Scale for Suicidal Ideation (BSS), Beck Anxiety Inventory (BAI), and Beck Youth Inventories.

The most important first step is to see your family doctor. The diagnosis is based on observation and not on a blood test or any other type of medical testing.

Once diagnosed, the next step is to consider a combination of cognitive therapy and medication. Of course there is a stigma regarding anti depressants, however, they work in 85% of cases and have minimal side effects. And cognitive therapy with a licenced psychologist will help in coping with depression and exploring ways to ameliorate your life. And of course a good network of friends and family supporting you is the third part of the triumvirate.

Finally, there is you. And as the quote says ” I’ve learned that you can keep going long after you think you can’t ” Don’t ever give up. Accept where you are in this moment of time and just go with it – don’t fight it. We are all human beings and life is not perfect. It’s ok to make mistakes, it’s ok if life is not a fairy tale, and it’s ok to be depressed and see the half empty glass. 

But here’s the key take away. Many years ago I suffered from depression. Fortunately I had a good support system with doctors, family and friends. Once I felt better, my psychologist asked me what made things turn around. I mentioned her as well as my medical doctor, my family and friends and the medication. She paused for a moment and said, ” you forgot one critical point ” I asked what that was. And she said – you. At the end of the day, I had to participate in the process of getting better. 

So it’s how you react to a situation that determines the outcome. I truly believe that behaviour changes attitude and in order to get better you must be proactive and do the necessary things to get back on track. We are stronger than we think.

Be well.

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