Resilience – Don’t mention the ‘D’ word

Do you ever get depressed, I mean really depressed? Even if you don’t, read on.

I was recently talking to a friend of mine who said he was depressed and after I asked him a few questions he realised he wasn’t. He was certainly heading in that direction if I hadn’t helped put his thinking in to perspective.

A few years ago I made exactly the same error. I was going through a tough time and for weeks I kept telling myself (and others) I was depressed. I kept repeating it and repeating it, ‘I’m depressed, I’m depressed… oh I’m so depressed’.

Thankfully I had a very important realisation.

There’s a big difference between being depressed and feeling down and yet many of us say we’re depressed when we’re not.

When we keep saying we’re depressed, whether we actually are depressed or not, saying we’re depressed is an affirmation and eventually it will become a truth and we become depressed.

What we say to ourselves is critical to our mental health.

After a few weeks of what I thought was depression I had a flash of inspiration and decided to define what depression was. At least what ‘MY’ definition of depression was.

To me, it’s when you can’t see any joy or beauty in any aspect of your life. And I mean ANY aspect of your life.

When I looked round I could see a lot of beauty and joy in my life.

When I went for walks I saw the beauty in nature. The beauty of the gardens in my village. If I heard a child laugh it would make me smile. If I saw an elderly couple walking down a street holding hands that made me smile too. I loved the flavour and textures of the food I was eating. The list went on and on and on and…

If I was truly depressed surely I wouldn’t be able to see any of that.

What I realised was that there was just ONE aspect of my life I wasn’t happy with.

At the time I let ONE aspect of my life spoil EVERY other aspect of my life. I wasn’t depressed I was just feeling down, which is very different.

Feeling down and/or having an off day is nowhere near anything like depression. For a start it’s temporary or at least very short term.

Some of us are genuinely depressed (ie clinically depressed) but many of us just use the word almost automatically without thinking about its real meaning, and when we continue to use the word it eventually becomes our reality.

Of course, it’s important we don’t ignore the issue/challenge that’s getting us down as it needs to be resolved.

It’s also important we’re aware and focus on what is going well in our lives. It’s usually much more than we think.

One way of doing that is by reminding ourselves of all the things we’re grateful for our lives.

And that’s a lot easier to do when you realise you’re not depressed and you’re just feeling down or having an off day, and feeling down and off days, as I said, are temporary.

So please don’t ever say you’re depressed, in fact, don’t ever mention that ‘D’ word ever again.

The thing to remember is, in challenging times putting our life in to perspective gives us hope. Hope reduces feelings of helplessness and stress which can make a tough situation bearable. Hope also helps motivate us to take the steps needed to improve our lives.

Tough times is not about looking at the glass thinking it’s half empty or half full, it’s about knowing you have more control of a situation than you think and remembering the glass… is refillable.

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