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“Not all of the depression that people experience is an illness… Unlike clinical depression, congruent depression is actually appropriate to your situation.” ~Dr. K
Every day is the same. Every day I’m stiff. Every day I’m tired. These are the two main things that people with fibromyalgia deal with. It’s been like that for a couple of years now. Six to be exact.
I’ve faced so much hardship all at one time: no job, no income, no friends, dealing with an emotionally immature/narcissistic mother, and not living where I want to live. All of this is making me sleep poorly.
It’s all been chaotic and stressful and hasn’t helped my fibro or been helpful since discovering my highly sensitive personality trait a year and a half ago.
I read that when you have fibro, you’re often depressed. However, anyone would feel mentally down in the dumps if they experienced these painful sensations all the time. Then for a little while, I started to believe that maybe I was truly depressed. I met all the criteria, after all.
So I hopped onto the free listener service, 7 Cups. I’ve been using it for almost two months, and it’s helped me somewhat. It‘s good to have somewhere safe to vent, to feel heard and validated. It’s also nice to know someone is actively listening to what you’re saying. Still, despite this intervention I’ve had days where I’ve felt down.
However, today, the clouds parted.
I watched a video on YouTube by Dr. K on congruent depression.
It’s a type of affective depression that occurs:
-When you’re in circumstances that you can’t control or have little control over
-When you have no fulfilling purpose
-When something is lacking from your life
This type of depression is actually normal. You’re experiencing a very human reaction to a slew of negative situations that you feel you have no power over. It is your body telling you that something needs to change.
It can also happen if you feel you have no direction, or the paths you’ve taken have always led to bad outcomes.
Congruent depression can be remedied if one does the following:
1. Find purpose of some kind.
Life purpose is complex nowadays, and our brains haven’t caught up. There’s very little physical labor needed to survive. Most of us don’t have to chop wood, work in fields, or trudge back and forth to a well, and I’m pretty sure no one rides horses on dirt roads. It’s harder to find true purpose when you don’t really need to do anything because everything is done by a machine.
But we can still find purpose by working on something that matters to us personally, fighting for causes that we believe in, finding ways to help other people, and pursuing our interests and passions.
2. Connect with people (to deflect loneliness).
As humans, we are wired to be social/connect, but our modern digital world doesn’t help with this. We’re the most connected we could have ever possibly imagined, yet we are very disconnected. I believe this, aside from social media, is also another factor in the increasing rates of suicide.
We need to connect with friends and family—face to face. And we need to really be present with them, honest with them, and open to their honest feelings so we can connect on a deeper level. When we can’t connect face to face, virtual connecting works just fine, so long as physical distance doesn’t turn into emotional distance. This is why I’m trying to post more to social media—so I can genuinely connect with people and feel less alienated.
3. Find some way to deal with mind-numbing boredom (that doesn’t involve gaming, binge watching, social media, etc.).
Our leisure activities in the hyper-digital age are all about consumption, not creation. There’s less painting, playing instruments, working with our hands—the kind of things that bring pleasure and joy to the person and society at large.
Find a hobby that you can immerse yourself in, something physically engaging and maybe even creative—something that will get you out of your head and into a state of flow.
4. Address the issues that contribute to your feeling of helplessness.
Re-locate, find another job, or break off toxic relationships, if these things are contributing to your depression. None of these things are easy, but just taking steps to create positive change can help you feel empowered and more in control of your life.
I’m actually considering moving at some point, pending COVID updates and my health, because I know this would go a long way toward improving my state of mind.
5. Focus on self-discovery/self-help.
Uncover your past traumas and commit yourself to healing. Work on identifying and overcoming limiting beliefs. Discover how you’re sabotaging yourself or holding yourself back so you can get past the blocks that keep you stuck.
It’s only by learning about oneself, without the input of others prejudices or judgments, that one can find peace and happiness.
*Self-help resources are free and plentiful nowadays. There are eBooks, podcasts, YouTube channels, blogs, websites, and Facebook groups to help with your personal development. You can also use astrology, the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, and the enneagram to get a better look at yourself on an individual level. I personally have been using astrology and tarot to understand myself and have found both very helpful, and I’m loving the book Becoming Bulletproof by Evy Poumpouras.
You can take all the prescriptions you want, do all the therapy there is out there, but for many, these are costly, time-consuming Band-Aids. They are not fixing what’s actually wrong—the drudgery of working a dead-end job you hate, the pain of staying with an abusive spouse, etc.
That’s not to say taking medication or doing therapy is wrong. However, if you’re doing therapy and taking medication and nothing seems to improve, then you need to do more. You have to make actual changes in relationships, jobs, and lifestyles, to really feel different.
Medication and therapies are simply aids to help you regain a better footing in the physiological and psychological sense. The rest is truly up to you.