senior woman sitting on beach looking at horizon

How I Have Learned to Manage My Depression as an Senior Person


I have struggled with depression and anxiety for several years. I am 67 now. It seems to be like I have a huge plank of wood I drag around with me all of the time. Sometimes this load becomes too great.

I describe depression as falling into a deep black hole. It swirls around me. I can’t get out of it. I am once again in its grip. This is a place I just do not like to be. It is horrible. The inner voice of self-doubt and hopelessness takes over my mind, my body and my soul. My thoughts whirl around and despair takes over.

Unfortunately, depression in my case doesn’t seem to be related to any particular incident. But, it always tells me the same things:

“You are worthless, you are useless.”

“You never get anything right.”

“Nobody loves you.”

Etc.

Anyone who experiences depression will recognize this destructive self-talk, and like others, I have tried to understand this illness and tried to deal with it. Meditation, yoga, cognitive therapy, exercise, medication — I’ve tried all of these. The only thing that is effective is a combination. I have been on medication for many years. 

During bad episodes, I cannot do very much at all. It’s like depression gets a grip on me and doesn’t want to let go. I really just want to curl up in bed and stay there. Breaking this grip is hard. 

Over the years I have learned to recognize when its grip is tightening and I am becoming unwell. So, I make appointments to get professional help. This is important as I need reminders of strategies to deal with my feelings and thoughts.

I make myself do at least three things every day such get up and have a shower, prepare a meal and go for a short walk — simple activities that break the desire to wallow in bed, that break the grip of depression. 

I need to make sure I deal with stress in my life, that I look after myself properly — plenty of sleep, plenty of exercise and a good diet. I need to do things I enjoy as this makes me feel good too: funny movies, talking with close friends, reading, walking along the beach, swimming and riding my three-wheeler bike. I also actively sit and challenge, in writing, the negative self-beliefs … I try to take their credibility away through these challenges.

I am so glad there is a greater understanding of depression nowadays. I am glad accessing professional help has become easier over the years. I am glad I understand that I can’t loosen depression’s grip by myself.

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Thinkstock photo via jacoblund

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