One of the most effective ways to combat depression is to do the exact opposite of what you feel like doing: taking care of yourself.
via The Huffington Post (please click through to read the entire piece):
The news of Robin Williams’ passing is shocking and touching so many of us. I was waiting for a friend at a bar when I first heard. All around me people erupted in a variety of emotional reactions as the word quickly spread. In the time since, a common reaction has been deep sadness, often paired with a sentiment of “I never thought someone like him would kill themselves.”
What we mean when we say “I never thought someone like him…” is that we can’t wrap our minds around certain people whom we deem successful or joyful or wise suffering from the same sorts to the demons that we ourselves face. Studies have shown that one in ten people in the United States are afflicted with depression. Robin Williams is said to be one of these people. In response to the news of Williams’ death his friend Harvey Fierstein wrote, “Please, people, do not f– with depression. It’s merciless. All it wants is to get you in a room alone and kill you. Take care of yourself.”
Yet for anyone who has suffered from depression or had suicidal thoughts, you know that self-care is the last thing you want to do when you feel that down. I teach meditation, and write books about how it effects our everyday life. That is the form of self-care that I preach. The sort of people who want to learn about meditation aren’t the “All is well and good in my world” type. They are people who have come to terms with the fact that they suffer. They are people finally looking at big transitions in their life, strong emotional states, and feelings of stress, anxiety, and depression. So you would think that having taught meditation for thirteen years and worked with these people I would be a pro at this whole “take care of yourself” thing.
I have never publicly admitted this, but given the stigma around mental health issues and suicide I feel that I need to now: two years ago I was suicidal. I had written a best-selling Buddhist book and had begun working on the second one when the rug was pulled out from under me in a multitude of ways. My fiancé left me, quite out of the blue, without any recognizable reason. That set me down a self-destructive road which was only heightened when, a month later, due to budget cut-backs, my full-time job was eliminated. The straw that broke the camel’s back came a few weeks after that; one of my best friends died of heart failure at the age of 29. I felt estranged from my family, and two major support structures, my fiancé and my friend were now gone, so I began to self-medicate in a destructive way. I knew better, but the vastness of my depression consumed any thoughts around self-care and regular meditation.
I cannot explain how fathomless my sadness was during that period. I had a roof I would go up to every single day and contemplate jumping. I convinced myself that my first book was out there helping people, so maybe I should finish the second one. I sat down and wrote the second half of that book, which oddly enough comes out next month. It gave me purpose, and during that short period of time friends started to catch on something was wrong with me.