Let’s get a little scientific for a minute. I think depression is viewed as something that very few people encounter and there’s only a small number of us who will have full blown depression. The statistics say differently. Fifty percent of adults will develop a mental illness in their lifetime. Now obviously that doesn’t mean 50% of adults will get depression, but we all know depression is obviously a common mental illness. I feel like if we understand how depression works and how it comes about then we might understand how susceptible we are as well as how our brain works. If we understand how the brain works than we can begin to break the cycle.
Several years back a man named Dr. Robi came and spoke at our church. This man not only was an amazing neuroscientist (PhD.) but a believer. For me I hadn’t encountered many people like this. It seems so many scientists abandon their belief and so many believers abandon their brains. I have come to find out this isn’t the case. There are so many scientists who see the connection between God and science and Dr. Robi is one of them. Dr. Robi spoke a lot about how our brain worked and how things like addiction effected our brain. So I began doing my research about him and discovered he had several videos etc., about depression. In his teachings he talks about how whatever you think, you feel and what you feel you act out in your behavior. This alone was startling. Whatever I think determines what I feel and therefore how I behave? Why I hadn’t I understood this more clearly before. The limbic system processes our emotions and negative thoughts. Negative thoughts increase cortisol. Too much cortisol takes over our hippocampus and therefore leads to depression. I know this an oversimplification of the actual process of our brain, but it’s a start.
Think to feel to body to action, and then in reverse. First thing to address is the action and then work backwards. Did you catch that? Work BACKWARDS. So now that we know how it works, how do we change the pattern? Over the next several weeks I’m going to talk at length about the power of our mind and our thoughts. We recognize its’ power but ignore it’s place in our well-being. We must begin the process of retraining our brain, retraining our thoughts, understanding our emotions, and ultimately changing our behavior. Sounds so simple but we all know simple doesn’t mean easy. Ironically Dr. Robi, suggests we start with changing our behaviors first. This makes me think of a Seinfeld episode where George realizes that he must do the complete opposite of what he’d normally do. For example, instead of believing he could never get the gorgeous girl he sees at dinner, he goes up to her and shares how he’s unemployed, lives with his mom, and has no job prospects. She of course is blown away by his candor and agrees to go out with him.
Now I know I just shared a sitcom scenario, but I think it’s a funny way of looking at it and I love to laugh. I think focusing on our brain when we are in the throes of depression can be a daunting and overwhelming task. Our brain is a nightmare even WE don’t want to uncover. So instead of focusing on your thoughts, just do it. Do something. If you aren’t exercising, go for a walk, regardless of whether you feel like it. Because you exercised, you will physically feel better, which in turn makes you emotionally feel better which in turn will produce more healthy thoughts because of how you feel. You see the circle? Just try it. One thing at a time, one day at a time.
Let’s not decide tomorrow you’re going to train for a triathlon, or eliminate all sugar. I have come to realize that drastic immediate changes just don’t work for me. I have to take small baby steps and focus on one day at a time, and sometimes one meal at a time, one hour at a time, and one work-out at a time. Let’s reverse the cycle and start a new one. Remember whenever you think you’re the only one, you’re not. I’m running this race with you. Yes, we’re at different stages, but I’ve been through most all of them, and I too am trying to break the cycle and start a new one.