Would you think I am off my rocker if I recommended that you might be better off if you just allow yourself to be depressed? Yeah, that could be pretty messed up of me to say! So, hear me out…
Women tend to actually feel the emotions, sensations, and thoughts associated with depressive symptoms. In contrast, us men try to completely avoid the emotions. We avoid the emotions with drinking a few too many cold ones, engaging in reckless behavior, gambling, and by simply pretending that we don’t have emotions. You see the problem here is that we are creating a second layer of depression, which leads to more shame, guilt, and even embarrassment about feeling depressive symptoms.
Boys are taught from a young age to hide emotions. A little girl falls while playing and we typically are quick to console her and accept crying. A little boy falls and we tell him to get up and be tough. This is not because we are just all horrible parents. This is because society trains us to allow women to feel and men should not express what they feel. I think we should look at some data to see if this is helping… for every 1 women who commits suicide there are 5 men committing suicide. This could tell us that women can express when they feel awful and men cannot express it and just take care of the problem by ending everything.
So, stopping it at the 1st layer might sound overwhelming. It is not a simple task. I am asking you to do more noticing of your emotions and thoughts. In order to do more work on being aware of what is actually going on, you are being asked to stop avoiding, stop pretending 🙂 So, what to do instead? Start exercising. Lets face it… exercise is just as, if not more, effective than antidepressants. That is not just my opinion… that is actual reputable research! My opinion is exercise is much more effective than antidepressant medication!!! Start small. The trick is to exercise before you allow yourself to choose if you want to exercise or not. This means go early in the morning or during lunch. You won’t become motivated to do it until you have been out doing it for 5-10 minutes. Just start with walking each day for 20 minutes.
I would also invite you to start taking a couple of notes. I know… journaling is so lame and only for women, or so they say. Don’t look at it as journaling. I just want you to take some notes 🙂 Each day just write down what you are experiencing physically. Did you have headaches, body aches, stiffness, racing heart, fatigue, etc… Don’t start with your emotions and thoughts. Start with noticing how your body is feeling each day. Just check in a little bit and notice what you are experiencing! Not too hard, right?
Make it a great week!
Dr Drew Brazier
*If you, or someone you know, are experiencing a mental health emergency please go to the nearest emergency room or dial 911. These tips are not to be used in times of crisis.