10.11.12 It has come to my attention that yet another one of my friends is currently challenged with overcoming bouts of depression. That space that drains all the energy, stops all the desire and passion and leaves one beyond helpless and hopeless… In writing his book Life Less Lived Richard Hawkey includes that 9.8% of South Africans suffer from major depressive disorder; and in America it's at 9%. 10% of populations is a frighteningly high stat. Yet only 16% percent of people seek treatment in South Africa, which equates to 3.9 million untreated people! Of course, we all know that stats are only the records and estimates from doctors' notes, who knows what isn't reported or guessed correctly. Another stat is that there are 22 successful suicides a day in SA and a further 220 failed attempts. I personally know of people who have attempted and succeeded. From my knowledge the highest teenage suicide rate, was, at one stage 2005, in Australia… in 2006 America had 33,300 suicides, 90% of whom had a diagnosable mental disorder, whether depressive or abusive (page 53-54).
Coming from a gene pool where depression is existent and has now been diagnosed, I have made sure I've been far more aware of my moods and how I am behaving and controlling what I can of my emotional reactions. Taking myself out of the picture and looking at things objectively, from both sides of the story, has been very helpful in building myself and my relationships with others up to a place I'm happy with. I've surprised myself too, by going back to my school diaries from years ago, going back to books and poems and seeing how I was storing things for self-motivation the whole time. I used to have little positive motivational cards in my wallet. I've collected notes and coins of money, like they were stamps in order to get over any dependency or control the paper and metal could have on my life. I even had a gratitude journal at one stage… it amazes me that there is a natural knowing that one has that one needs to motivate oneself. It's great to know that I listened to my knowing and collected little motivations. When I was hit with the big D in the last few years, admittedly on a far smaller scale than many others, man I was clinging to all those little things like a desert-traveller clings to his water. For who I am, and my choices, I clung to my God too, I think I felt His presence in all the little things, that Footprints Poem, He carried me on the words friends had given me in the past, or I had bought or recorded in passing.
Now, as the dark forest appears to have some sunlight filtering through the leaves above me, I realise that others are in their own forests too, and that they need to find little beams of precious light to cling to too… so I wanted to share some of the inexpensive, simple and easy methods one can use to create their light…
1. Put a motivational thought / idea / quote on your mobile as a screen saver and / or your opening message to yourself.
2. Collect positive sayings and quotes, save them as templates on your phone, or write them in a little book, or make a collage of them on your wall, or cover your work files/desk calendar/diary cover with them.
3. At the beginning of the year take your new diary and randomly choose pages to write quotes in that you will 'find in the future', or simply write 'I love you', 'keep smiling', 'well done' etc.
4. Ask a close friend to send you a motivational text message once a week.
5. Go online every couple of weeks, or once a month and buy a fridge magnet with a motivational saying on that means something to you. Buy it and have it posted to your home so that you receive it, and can put it on your fridge to see every day.
6. Start an Achievement / Love wall / poster / pin board. Cut out cards from people where they sign 'love from and their name', cut out meaningful pictures, put up certificates, cartoons, quotes, invitations to events, anything that triggers a good memory and / a good smile / laugh. Arrange the cut outs, memories and motivations on the wall. Enjoy them daily.
7. Find / choose a role model, someone who you aspire to completely, mine is Audrey Hepburn. Get a photo / picture / poster of them and put it up somewhere where you will see them greet you and smile at you daily.
8. Have a vision wall / poster / pin board. Find things to represent all your dreams and desires, be it a degree you desire to have, a car you envisage yourself driving, a whole bunch of holiday places you long to go to. Put them all up there and when you walk past smile as you pretend you are there, carry on walking in that positive space. You aren't saying you are going to get it, you are enjoying the pretend. It's not an 'I don't have wall', it's an I'm already there wall, it's an I've already done that wall. Make the story as indulgent as you like.
9. Join a group of people in doing what you love, be it reading, walking, talking, painting, singing, praying, yoga, dancing, racing bikes, building models, playing a sport, travelling, studying etc etc. After each long term gathering where you have a programme, or an invitation, get the people who were there to sign it, and or write something positive for you, even if it is writing on the table number or invitation to the final event. I always get the casts in my shows to sign the programme. Then, when times are tough, I pull out the programmes and the books I've asked people to sign and I remember being with them, I remember their energy and the laughter and I tell myself I'm going to start that good process again.
10. Most importantly, be kind to yourself. Be kind always. It's ok to be where you are, live through it, because you are that moment closer to the turning point, you are always getting closer to the turning point. Always.
11. Help someone else, make someone else happy for a moment.
For anyone practicing a faith, like I do. Cling to God, cling to faith, cling to hope and love, I promise you, as He promises you, you will not be disappointed. You are living through what all great humans beings have lived through, suffering, so that you learn what not to take for granted when the suffering is done. Gratitude is always the best attitude. It's attitude, not aptitude that gives us altitude. Christian music, wow, wow, wow.
Anyway, it's wonderful to know that 90% of the world's population are 'normal' and aren't living through a mental disorder… but then I always knew I wasn't 'normal' ;-) EXTRA INFO, if you're interested, I haven't seen the sites, so not sure what's on them, but they are in the reference section of Hawkey's book. I realise it's a bit irresponsible of me to put them up here, but hey ho, leap of faith …