My life was on the brink of destruction and no one knew it but me. I experienced a near brush with a real-life mental meltdown and I hid so well-that I successfully hid it from myself. Over a One-hundred and fifty million people, suffer from one form of depression or another. People have a tendency to sometimes look at their leaders, parents, teachers, clergy, spouses and even politicians and assume that he or she is strong and will always be strong, despite the circumstances. Unfortunately, oftentimes this is not how it turns out.
The Commonality of “Blue Funk”
Depression is a common experience today. We have all felt ‘depressed’ about a misunderstanding in our marriage, altercations with teenage children, a cold shoulder from a friend and sometimes we feel ‘down’ for no reason at all. Depression does not always start as an illness; it usually begins as a depressive thought or mood. However, depression can become an illness when your mood state is severe; it interferes with your ability to function at home or work or that, your state of mind lasts for more than two to three weeks.
The Weight of My Fortieth Year
My personal clash with my depressive state started with a multi-million dollar building program. If I did not know the devil was real, I sure discovered how real he was during this ordeal. It was 1998 and I was just turning forty. Turning forty was not the problem; I could easily cope with this. It was when the first building contractor embezzled approximately $300,000 at the outset of our building project. Because of this action, the bank refused to continue funding the building project while waiting on the outcome of our litigation proceedings. At times, I would cry uncontrollably and for the life of me could figure out why. I ended up in the hospital being examined because of chest pains only to discover that I was experience chronic stress and depression. After my escape from the hospital, I had no other choice but to get back into the thick of things. Winston Churchill made frequent references to his depression, which he called his “black dog”. Churchill knew that during World War II, not only was his nation depending on his decision-making ability, but other nations as well.
Crying After Winning
In order for the bank to continue funding our new construction, we had to win our lawsuit. While in court, after the judge adjured, I found myself crying as everyone were leaving the courtroom. Surely, I was much stronger this, I thought to myself. After finally winning the court case, the bank continued to fund our project and we resumed with the building construction. Two weeks later, our constructed 130 X 55 feet high wall was twice blown down by a strong wind. It was at this point I realized I had simply resolved in my heart and mind that the things I cannot control, God can and what I can control, I will.
Stress Can Lead to Depression
My temporary depressive state was brought on by a high degree of stress, which I had to learn how to use to my advantage, not my demise. Stress is an unfortunate unpleasant fact. However, possessing a healthy sense of control-a confidence in your ability to influence the course and destiny of your life can help you influence stress by shortening its duration or avoiding it altogether. If stress is not controlled, it graduates into depression. The signs of being in a depressed mood is a lowered self-esteem, insomnia or broken sleep, less ability to control emotions from pessimism to anxiety, changes in weight, an absence or reduced sex drive, etc.
Real People Overcoming Real Problems
Having one or other of these features, by themselves, is unlikely to indicate depression. However, there could be other causes that may warrant medical assessment. I do not claim to be a licensed clinical psychiatrist; I am just a real person whose experienced real problems, and have discovered how to combat them and win. Reduce Stress and you will lengthen your life.
Two Types of Stress
There are some things you can do to help reduce stress in your life regardless of the situation. First, I believe that you should understand stress to some degree. There are two sides to stress, one is when confronted by a threat to its physical well-being, the body undergoes what is known as the stress response. It temporarily abandons its long term “building projects”-growth, tissue repair, immune function, ets. Instead, it floods the bloodstream with glucose, protein and fat from reserves in the liver and fat cells. Heart rate, blood pressure and breathing rate skyrocket. These physiological changes can save your life by giving you extra speed, strength or a more focused mind. The other side is that the stress response occurs not only when we are confronted by physical danger, but also in situations that simply make us feel anxious-from getting stuck in traffic to an argument with your spouse or coworker.
Small Things That Lead to Victory
I discovered little things that helped me to turn stress into strengths and here are a few considerations. Reports say that people who have a connection with God and involvement in church have a health advantage. Determine that you are a person who acts, and does not always react. Calmly do these things:
- Be proactive
- Develop a positive interaction with your family
- Take advantage of certain outlets
- Talk positive
- Avoid perfectionism
- Stretch your facial muscles with laughter. (Humor extends life)
- Diversify your life
- Receive periodic massages
- Stop assuming the worst
- Leave your work at the job
- Read Dr. Mikel Brown’s books (Smile)
- Relax and focus your thoughts
Research discovered that ‘attitude’ toward oneself and their environment is the key to managing stress. Therefore, enjoy the “now”, remain in the moment, and release your mind from built up concerns and tensions. DON’T WORRY! BE HAPPY!
This is a chapter from Dr. Brown’s new book, “Treasures in Unexpected Places“