M is for The Monster in my Head

Monster in your head

Contrary to popular belief, depression doesn’t need a trigger. I had a perfectly normal, storybook childhood. I have had your basic chick-flick type relationships. I’ve never really been through a traumatic experience. Yes, I have experienced loss, but that is a necessary part of life. This is the most frustrating part, there is no logical explanation for my depression. In my case it’s just there.monster shadow

I think of it as a monster living inside my head. Sometimes it’s asleep, but it’s always there. The worst part is, it’s self-sufficient.  It feeds itself with negative thoughts which causes me to doubt myself and my abilities. That feeds the monster even more and it just cycles like that, getting bigger and bigger and more out of control. This makes me want to hide from the world. Stick my head under the covers and hope that I disappear. This only makes the monster even stronger. How am I supposed to fight back?

I have to get out of my head. I have to change gears. I usually don’t have the motivation or energy, but I know it’s the only way to shut the monster up. I’ve learned that it is important to acknowledge how you feel and not avoid it or repress it. It is easier to use maladaptive strategies like sleep, drugs, alcohol or self-harm. These strategies relieve or distract you from your pain quickly, so they are often favourable, but they just end up causing more problems in the end.

What are some healthy strategies to deal with the monster in your head?

Exercise. It’s true. The hardest part is getting yourself to do it. Once you’ve gotten in to it for 5-10 minutes, the endorphins in your body take over. Cardio is usually the best form of exercise for depression because it gets the feel-good chemicals flowing the most quickly. If you don’t have enough energy for serious cardio, take a walk. You’ll get fresh air, new scenery, and it still raises your heart rate a bit. A healthy dose of vitamin D never hurt depression either.

Talk. I’m not very good at this one, but some people are. Talk to some you trust, who wont judge you. If you are alone, you can write your feelings down, or use social media to vent. I know some people get upset when people post negativity on blogs, facebook or twitter, but if that’s how you need to express yourself, so be it. I’d rather have your negative comments pop up in my twitter feed than have you harm yourself.

Meditate. It’s great if you are able to do it. If not, there are forms of moving meditation like juggling and martial arts. If you are religious, there’s prayer. Deep breathing and visualizing a calm place can work too. Focusing on rhythmic breathing or repetitive movement requires a great deal of attention, enough to move your brain away from the negative thoughts.

Engage. Be around people. Conversation and activity with other people can prevent you from over-thinking. You are also less likely to use one of the maladaptive strategies I mentioned earlier when you are around people.

Watch a movie or read a book. Focusing on the story line can often turn your thoughts. Reading involves scanning eye movements. Research has shown that these movements have a calming effect on the brain and reduce the effects of negative thoughts. Didn’t know that did you? It’s a new type of psychotherapy called eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR). Originally it was used to treat post-traumatic stress syndrome, but it’s now being adapted for depression.

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12 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Scott Lawlor
    Apr 15, 2014 @ 11:15:47

    wow, another great post.

    Reply

  2. nembow
    Apr 15, 2014 @ 14:20:27

    Brilliant tips here! I’ve found exercise to be lots of help. Things like getting out of the house for a walk, breathing in fresh air. Never been very good at meditation, but I’m thinking I should really give it another go. I find coffee shops are good places to hang out when I’m down – I get to be around people without having to talk to anyone!

    Reply

  3. Robyn
    Apr 15, 2014 @ 19:12:15

    I am dealing with uninvited and uncalled for monsters of my own right now. Not fun. Not cool. Excellent advice! I like the idea of a coffee shop too…I seem to be afraid of people at times like this. Glad you are feeling well enough to share! Stay well!

    Reply

  4. C.E. Darrell
    Apr 15, 2014 @ 21:21:11

    Such a moving post, lovely lady; the way you describe that damn monster is so evoking, it sounds horrible 😦 But I’m so glad you’re coping so bravely – I took up meditation last year and have loved every session, I really feel myself growing more patient and confident. Keep the A-Z coming, I’m loving your posts!

    Reply

  5. helenrj
    Apr 15, 2014 @ 22:36:28

    Depression is so hard. My daughter battles it. Your advice hit the nail on the head. I’m an A to Z minion/helper sauntering through the ‘net and checking blogs. Keep on bloggin. You have much to share and can be an inspiration to many.

    Reply

  6. mrsshortie
    Apr 16, 2014 @ 05:38:25

    A great post, it’s a comfort to read about someone else who suffers with depression but has no ‘reason’ to struggle. The monster in your head is a great analogy, I tend to call mine the gremlins. Take Care x

    Reply

  7. Birgit
    Apr 16, 2014 @ 16:31:09

    What a powerful blog here for your A to Z. You express yourself wonderfully and that takes great strength. people can have, what others may see as a “beautiful life”-no worries about money, great spouse, great home etc… but they are not happy and that is due to what you speak of and people need to understand more and judge less. I think what you bring forth to help with the depression is excellent

    Reply

    • somberscribbler
      Apr 18, 2014 @ 08:28:30

      Thank you so much, your kind words mean a lot to me. I agree, people should judge each other less. Unless you’ve walked in their shoes there is no way to know what kinds of battles they are fighting.

      Reply

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