Thursday, January 21, 2010

Look Your Fears in the Eye!

One of the things about being depressed is that sense of feeling alone, of being the only one experiencing these feelings. It's hard to believe that anyone else could feel like you do - and frankly, you probably feel too down to care.
But depressed people are very vulnerable to fear. Places, things, events that may make a non-depressed person a little nervous can be sources of full blown anxiety attacks for someone experiencing depression.
And, conversely, some of the things we fear may actually be depression triggers. Have you ever gone to a family get together, for example, and become depressed because you maybe once again had a fight with your brother or cousin, or perhaps your dad made one of his sarcastic 'jokes' that made you feel really humiliated?You came away feeling depressed because these experiences were a depression trigger.
Family events are one of the biggest sources of conflict or emotionally based depression triggers.
So, what to do? Avoiding all events like this sounds like a good plan, but that can mean you become even more isolated from the people who could offer you the best support. Feeling part of a family group is in itself a defence against depression - unless yours is a totally dysfunctional family, that is!
So the best thing may well be to face your fears, acknowledge the problem, and do something about it. Being pro-active is difficult if you're depressed, but it can be done. It works best before the situation becomes charged.
So, if cousin Susie is always on your case at family dinners, give her a call before the event. Say you find it upsetting that she behaves the way she does, and ask her why? She may well be shocked to hear you feel this way. Whatever she says, tell her that you want the behaviour to stop. Then tell other family members that this behaviour has been a problem for you and that you've talked to Cousin Susie about it and expect that she will behave better towards you so everyone can have a fun time at the get together.
This puts Cousin Susie on notice that her behaviour is being watched not just by you but by other family members. Peer pressure is great!
What about dealing with other fears?
1) Acknowledge the problem, what the fear is.
2) Do something about it if you can. Action is a great fear-buster.
3) If you can't do anything about it, laugh at it. Tell yourself you are not going to let this spoil your life.
4) Talk about your fears with someone else - your counsellor, or a close friend you can trust.
5) establish some control. Accept that you are in control of how you feel and that you can either take some action to prevent the trigger event, or you can choose to ignore it as not worth your attention.
6) Have a chat with yourself, lay out what it is that frightens or depresses you about any particular trigger.Then talk it out with yourself - is it really that bad? What can you do to chase it away?
Now you understand your fear, you understand that you can either take some action or learn to ignore or take the sting out of the fear or depression trigger.

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