Old age is often thought of as that time of your life where you can rest and do more of the things you left unfinished when you were younger. Unfortunately time also plays its part and age brings with it the realisation that our health is holding us back. Couple this with our disappointment of being unable to do what we want and the stage is set for bouts of depression.
The question is how do we avoid depression? And if we are already suffering from it, how do we cope with it?
This is an age old question in itself I think, but once we reach the time where it’s difficult to get back into the work force, this is where life becomes harder. We feel as though our value has reduced and we begin to feel less useful. As these feelings continue we start to believe it ourselves. This is dangerous territory. It’s born out of comparing ourselves to others. This only serves to deny our own gifts and talents.
You see when we compare ourselves to others it is not a real comparison. Your values and ideals are very different to mine for arguments sake. What you hold dear and what rates highly in your opinion could very well have no impact on me. The things which measure your success will always be different to someone else’s. So we need to understand that the negative feelings which can bring us down could be based on false evidence.
Let me illustrate this:
Two men of similar age, job and income appear to have different levels of success. One has the big house, flash sporty car, in fact lots of up market material possessions… but his marriage is struggling, his kids are drug affected, extended family only want to borrow money all the time and otherwise don’t bother with him. He basically lives a life of isolation with his toys.
The other man has a neat medium sized home, family car, modest possessions, good marriage and loving kids. His extended family just want to gather for fun times and enjoy each other’s company. On the surface his life is inclusive and filled with laughter and family.
However, the second man suffered long periods of depression because he saw the first man’s wealth and felt he was letting his own family down. It’s not until his mentor questions him on where he has succeeded in his life that he realises the value he placed on family. He discovered how he would never trade this virtue for the virtues of the first man.
Basically the second man had made sure his family were provided for with care and love. The cost to him was his perceived lower level of wealth. In hindsight it was a price he was more than willing to pay.
So where was his depression based? Good question.
He had made a judgement based on false evidence; a comparison that didn’t compare. If only we could be comfortable in our own skin and accepting of our own gifts and abilities, we would be far happier… and less depressed.
So here’s a few tips for dealing with depression:
- Develop and maintain supportive relationships
- If you find yourself thinking negatively, challenge yourself to think more positively
- Understand your limitations and don’t over extend yourself
- Be as social as you can. Actively seek out group activities and assist others in the group
- Take care of yourself by getting regular exercise and eating good healthy food
- Be mindful of your state of mind and know when to get help
It is often said, “An idle mind is the devil’s playground”. This is particularly true when dealing with depression. There are definitely dark days but there is a light at the end of the tunnel… and it’s not a freight train.
Do you struggle with depression as you get older? What do you do to keep your mind off your worries? What makes you most happy? Tell us below.