Reaching for Something Good During Depression

Reaching for something good

The recent death of Robin Williams really shook me.  My boyfriend told me he had died and I was expecting to hear “of a heart attack” or some other natural cause – NOT that he killed himself.

He was one of my favorite generators of laughter.  But not only that – he had depression, and was bipolar – and he chose to check-out.  How could someone with the finances to get ANY type of help he needed end it all?   If HE couldn’t survive it then could I?

I know the deep anguish and internal emotional pain that brings one to that point.  I’d rather be physically beaten then go through the internal emotional beating of depression that is invisible to the outside world.   At least with bruises and cuts you can say to someone – “look, I’m hurt, I need help”.  With internal emotional damage it is all to easy to say “well, you look fine – and you were just laughing yesterday – don’t be silly – you’re fine.”  Meanwhile your brain is being stomped on and your heart is being torn apart with a pitch fork.  Things are so so dark – you breath the darkness and become enveloped in it.

The most important thing to remember is that there ARE ways to get help.

You must gather the strength to reach for something good.  Even when you don’t think that good exists anymore.

Muster the strength to make that call to a suicide hotline or call 9-1-1.

U.S. National Suicide Hotline:  1-800-273-TALK(8255)

For a list of International Suicide Hotlines click here.

Get in touch with professionals, see a Doctor AND do what you can on your end to help yourself feel better.

Reaching for Something Good

A huge part of my recovery has been to recognize when those bad feelings are starting.  I acknowledge them, and then choose to reach for something good – something that will help me feel better.  And – NO – I am not talking about drugs or alcohol.  I have gone that route and I KNOW that self-medicating does not work in the long run and can even make things worse.  You can learn a more about me here and I share more about my story in Get Back on the Feel Good Train.

After hearing of the suicide of Robin Williams it really knocked me for a loop.  I allowed myself time to process it and feel sad.  But when I felt myself start slipping further than that – I KNEW I had to reach for something good.  For me that was watching Robin on YouTube, a Weird Al video (Tacky) and working on some of my photographs.  It also included talking with my therapist about his death and reminding myself of all the things I do to keep myself healthy.  And making sure I made it to my Yoga class – I always come out of there feeling fabulous.

What If You Don’t Remember What Makes You Feel Good?

But how do you reach for something good when you don’t know what “good” is anymore?

When coming out of a depression I often have a hurdle to overcome – I had forgotten what made me feel good!

Whenever I’ve come out of a depression it is as-if the hard drive of my brain has just crashed – been totally wiped.  I don’t know what brings me joy and, at that point, I’m not sure I even had anything I enjoyed doing ever.

I had to start with taking little steps back to feeling good.

I knew that feeling good was NOT JUST popping some little magical pills.  My meds definitely help – as does therapy – but those were only part of the puzzle.  I wanted to kick this depressions butt from all sides and not leave any room for it to return.

I had to become an Active Participant in My Mental and Physical Health – and I HAD TO make it a priority – my survival depends on it.

I began working on my mind, body and soul by doing something I call the 4-G’s of Feeling Good.

The 4-G's of Feelin' Good

Goin’ – I noticed how my body felt good after moving.  I eventually discovered that I LOVE Yoga.

Greens – I noticed that my body responds well to eating more veggies – my mind feels clear, I sleep better and I crave less junk.

Givin’ – Most importantly I learned to give to MYSELF.  To be kind to myself.  To start to believe that I am just as worthwhile as anyone else.  Read a bit about this in my post about Scratchy Napkins here.

Gratitude – Being thankful.  Each day I write down 3 things I am grateful for.  I see this as a way of focusing on things that I would like MORE of – or focusing on feelings I would like to have more often.

You can learn more about the 4-G’s in my book Get Back on the Feel Good Train.

Through doing the 4-G’s AND writing them down, I slowly began to re-ignite that spark in myself.  I began finding things I truly enjoyed doing.

I have built up a list of things that I KNOW help me to feel good.  Now, when I am starting to feel down I have a list of feel good things I can reach for.

Things like:

  • A walk in nature.
  • Sitting outside in the sunlight.
  • Talking with a friend (sometimes).
  • Watching funny videos on YouTube.  My favorites are any funny/cute animal videos.  More recently I watched Weird Al’s video for “Tacky” a spoof on “Happy”.
  • Watching a funny movie or TV show.  Faves of mine include What About Bob?, The Three Amigos, RV (Robin Williams),  National Lampoon Vacations, and I Love Lucy re-runs.
  • Yoga
  • Processing my photographs and creating digital art.

What are some things that are simple for you to do that help you feel good?

Share them with me in the comments below.

In conclusion I would like to say…

Thank you, Robin, for bringing so much joy and laughter into the world in a way that only you could.

In this great loss has also come great awareness.  The conversation about depression has been started.  A light has been shone on this invisible disease that pains more people than we realize.

A few months ago I had a great conversation with Alana Blundo about the importance of talking about depression – You can listen to Changing the Perception of Mental Illness HERE.

Please, continue the conversation.  Reach out for help and to help others as well.

Reach for something good!




2 replies
  1. Preston McCracken
    Preston McCracken says:

    Thanks for this important post, Beth.
    Interesting that we were both moved to write about depression after Robin gave in to his struggles.
    I appreciate that you include the hotline. That was something I overlooked.
    I like your phrase ‘active participant.’ Lethargy is the enemy at these times.
    It looks like we have the same sense of humor. I’m a big fan of the ones you listed.


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