How to Push Forward When Depression is Trying to Hold You Back
Mothers are incredible people who often do not get the recognition they deserve. Many moms are always "on". No matter how THEY may be feeling or what they are experiencing in life, they tend to put the needs of their children ahead of their own.
Growing up the youngest in my family, I had a mom who struggled with depression. Now I didn't know this as a kid. It wasn't until I was older and some conversations with my oldest sister that I came to this realization.
Looking back there were signs of course. Yet growing up she was always "on" and despite the symptoms of depression she experienced, she pushed on and worked hard to meet my needs as a kiddo.
Men Too Are Always On: It Just Looks Different
Men too are always "on", just maybe in a different way. I'm not going to get into gender norms and all that bullshit. The fact is that men are hard wired through millions of years of evolution to provide for themselves and their family.
For many of us men, our identity revolves around our work and how successful we can be in providing for ourselves and our family. On good days, we wake up each morning primed, pumped, and driven to succeed. We rely on this energy and our drive to help propel us to greater heights in our careers.
When Depression Strikes: The Impact Depression Can Have on a Man's Ability to Succeed
But what happens when depression hits. The depression could be a temporary thing caused by a significant life event. Or the depression could be a genetic thing where your brain is simply hard wired for depression (like my mother's brain was wired).
What does depression look like? According to the Mayo Clinic, depression looks like:
Feelings of intense sadness, emptiness, or hopelessness,
Feelings of worthlessness, guilt, fixation on past "failures" or mistakes or self-blame,
Irritability or frustration even over small things,
Possible increase in feelings of anger,
Profound loss of interest in things that you used to enjoy like hobbies, sex, sports, and yes, even work,
Fatigue during the day, lack of energy or drive to where everything feels like it takes extra effort,
Difficulty sleeping at night or sleeping too much,
Reoccurring thoughts of dying, death, suicide, or being okay if something happened to where you were no longer around.
These symptoms can happen on a daily basis. What impact do you think that the above symptoms can have on a man's drive and efforts to excel?
Men with depression wake up and it feels like throughout the day they are slugging through mud. It takes much more effort than normal to accomplish the regular daily tasks let alone going above and beyond.
And then if we are not careful, the feelings of worthlessness, guilt, and hopelessness can be self-reinforcing. We may make statements to ourselves like:
"What's wrong with me. I'm stronger than this and can't seem to get myself right."
"If I don't get it together, I'm going to get fired."
"How can I make it through each day when I have a hard time motivating myself simply to get out of bed?"
"What kind of man am I if I keep feeling this way, it impacts my ability to succeed, and I can't provide for myself and my family like I know I can?"
Starting With the Obvious: See a Counselor Who Specializes in Men's Counseling
Guys, I know you don't want to. But if your symptoms of depression have persisted despite your best efforts, it's not worth letting it further impact your happiness, your relationships, and your work.
As men, we are problem solvers and should be able to overcome anything we put our minds to, right? And most of the time, we do.
And when we can't, we may feel like a failure. Asking for help appears to us as a sign of that failure.
Sometimes all it takes it talking with another man about the challenges you're facing. Friends will listen and that can be helpful. But they aren't trained in helping people overcome depression.
A men's counselor, particularly one who specializes in men's counseling, can act as that coach who can help you overcome the symptoms of depression.
Let's say I had an accident on a construction site. A piece of rebar is sticking out of my leg.
I wake up each morning dreading the day. I'm having a hard time being effective in my job because of it. I go home and can't be present for my wife, girlfriend, significant other, and children because of it.
But because going to a doctor and asking for help makes me feel less of a man, I just push through it. Day after day I wake up in pain. Day after day I just get by at work. And day after day I maintain the minimum for my relationships.
Depression is much like this. There is no need to walk around with a piece or rebar sticking out of your leg. And there is no reason you need to live your life with depression impacting you and other priorities in your life.
Depression is one of the most common emotional challenges we face in the U.S. today. That means our men's therapists at Katy Counseling for Men have helped many men like you overcome those challenges.
And for Those Who Choose the Rebar Route: Suggestions on How to Push On
For those who are not ready to see a men's counselor, I do want to provide some helpful suggestions while you limp around with that rebar in your leg. I know we are all on our own tolerance level for discomfort and how bad it has to get before we ask for help.
In the meantime, the below are suggestions that have been found to be helpful.
First, Understand the Emotional Brain Versus the Logical Brain
There is a big difference between what I call our emotional brain and our logical brain. Our emotional brain is irrational, illogical, and will lie to us. Our logical brain uses facts and evidence and when we are objective, we can use this to help combat our emotional brain.
For example, our emotional brain under depression will try to convince us that we are worthless. The emotional brain encourages us to latch onto that thought and roll it around, absorb it, and accept it.
This is where our logical brain comes in. When our logical brain understands that our emotional brain is irrational, illogical, and lies to us, that is the first step.
The next step is to challenge our emotional brain with facts. Be objective in this exercise and truly look for evidence that you may be "worthless". List the facts that indicate you are worthless.
Next, find the evidence or facts that you are not worthless. Be objective in this exercise and truly look for the evidence that you are not worthless.
Without fail, when the person is being objective, the list for "I am not worthless" if far longer that the list of "I am worthless".
You may FEEL worthless because that's how depression makes you feel. But in reality, and in the fact-based world, you are not. And you have the evidence to prove it.
Prepare for Mornings, Evenings, & Weekends: Downtime
While it still may be a slug to make it through the day, when you are at work your mind is occupied. The distractions at work can help keep the emotional mind at bay, while you are distracted.
Many men talk about how difficult mornings, evenings, and weekends can be. Evenings are a time where you don't have the distractions of the day and your emotional mind can wreak depression havoc.
Many men who have depression wake up in the morning with that heavy, oppressive feeling. It leads to difficulty getting going in the morning as the mood seems to settle into every cell of their body.
Weekends may be hit or miss. Depending on what you have planned for the weekend, it could be a time of distraction. If you don't have many things planned, it could be a difficult time in dealing with your depression.
If evenings are hard, schedule things to do. You're not going to want to. But you may push yourself to go to the gym. Schedule a time to meet with the guys and grab a beer. Start a new hobby that will get you out of the house.
For mornings, you know you are going to start your day sooner or later. Push yourself to start your day sooner rather than later.
Get up and go to the gym. Get up and get in the shower. Get up and grab a cup of coffee. The point is to just get up.
Resist lying in bed and push yourself to start your day. Once you do, your mind will be distracted, and the depressive symptoms may ease a bit or a lot.
Don't Keep it in, Let it Out
Fine, you don't want to see a men's counselor (but still click the hyperlink just in case). I'll try not to take that personal! But at the very least, find someone who you care about and who you know cares about you.
Talk to them about how you're feeling. You don't have to share every nitty gritty detail but let them know you are struggling.
Trying to contain the symptoms of depression on our own can result in a pressure cooker without a release. Eventually we'll explode and usually not in pretty ways.
There may not be a lot that someone else can do for your depression. The point isn't to have someone be able to do something that will help you.
But the very act of talking about it can relieve some of the pent-up pressure and that alone can be very helpful.
Depression & Suicide
My mother was a stubborn woman who came from sturdy German stock and a family who did not talk about their emotions. And God forbid that someone in the family ask for help. It just wasn't accepted in her family.
My mom struggled with depression, likely her entire adult life, and would not see a therapist. There were people who were trained to help women like my mom who had experienced some traumatic events in her life and who also struggled with depression.
Because of this, my mom took her life in 2002. My mom isn't alone in the ultimate ending of someone who struggles with depression.
People who commit suicide don't want to die, they are just trying to find a way to live without the pain and haven't been able to.
Had she met with a therapist, could she be around today? Odds are likely that she would be.
If you are struggling and having thoughts of death, dying, or suicide -- even if you tell yourself that you would never do that -- seek help. Just the very fact that you are having these thoughts are telling you that something is wrong.
And if you need immediate help, there are helplines available. It's as simple as dialing 9-8-8 for the National Suicide Hotline. If you are in immediate need, don't hesitate to call 9-1-1.
Don't make a permanent decision for a temporary problem. Choose to be around for those who love y0u.
Katy Counseling for Men: Counselors Who Specialize in Men's Counseling Katy, TX & Houston
Depression in men can feel debilitating. It prevents us from offering life, loved ones, and our careers the best we have to offer. Depression is a heavy burden that is carried around every moment of every day. But it doesn't have to be that way.
At Katy Counseling for Men, our men's counselors specialize in therapy for men. We also have both traditional talk therapy options and non-talk therapy options like EMDR, ART, and the very effective neurofeedback.
At our Katy, TX location of Katy Counseling for Men, we are ready to help. If you are ready to start, all you need to do is follow these three simple steps:
Contact Katy Counseling for Men
Meet with one of our men's counselors
Start your journey in building a stronger future today
Other Support Services Offered at Katy Counseling for Men: Katy, TX & Houston
At our Katy, TX location of Katy Counseling for Men, we have a variety of both talk therapy and non-talk therapy approaches in counseling for men. Below are a few of what we have to offer:
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) (Talk Therapy)
Accelerated Resolution Therapy (ART) (Not Talk Therapy)
Eye Movement Desensitization & Reprocessing (EMDR) (Not Talk Therapy)