Tackling Depression and Bullying, by Mitchell Richards
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Depression is a problem for many people in New Zealand, affecting approximately one in ten Kiwis.
This book focuses on my personal experience with depression and strategies I have used to manage it. It is my hope that by reading this book, anyone who is struggling with depression can use the strategies I have outlined to improve their lives and ultimately get to a better place.
From: Tackling Depression and Bullying, by Mitchell Richards
Chapter 1: Getting Help and Being Healthy
The main idea that I will stress in this book is that although growing up in this time can be extremely challenging, the work that you put in now as a young man or woman will not be wasted. The saying ‘every cloud has a silver lining’ is a very true saying and one that you can apply to your own life to help you right here and now. One key thing to remember when growing up in the information age is that you will be exposed to a number of different media and technology mediums. These can be harmful. I am currently 21 years of age at the time of writing and have experienced first-hand how damaging the overuse of mediums such as television and gaming devices can be. They represent an attempt to escape from reality and should not be overused, however when used in moderation they are not as much of a risk to our mental health. For example, we can sometimes shut our minds off from reality when we are faced with a situation we find hard or we are unable to deal with. This is the worst thing we can do when faced with a challenging situation. If we are unable to deal with a situation we run the risk of becoming depressed. Depression is a way of nature telling us something is wrong. There are a number of ways we can deal with being depressed.
The first step in dealing with depression is to admit that you have a problem. If you don’t admit you have a problem and just say that everything is fine when it isn’t, you will set yourself up for hard times in the future. When I was a teenager, I used to think that there was no way that my problems such as anxiety and depression could be helped by just talking about it. However, the best course of action you can take if you are someone with depression and/or anxiety is to get professional help. When I was growing up I had a lot of experience with anxiety and depression and would often end up blowing up at my friends or family members when things became too much for me to handle.
My biggest mistake growing up as a teenager was my lack of faith in a positive outcome for myself. If, as a teenager, I was willing to accept help from the professionals who would’ve given it to me, school would have been twice as easy for me to deal with. I eventually received the help for my illness that I really needed; unfortunately for my family, friends and I, it was forced upon me, rather than me taking responsibility for my illness and seeking help.
When I was nineteen, I was put into a mental health admissions unit, where I had to stay for six months. Coming from an incredibly free and comfortable home environment, I found this experience almost unbearable at times. However, my previous point that every cloud has a silver lining applies here. Before I was admitted to the unit I was incredibly lazy, hard to get along with, arrogant and sometimes extremely rude. The hard times that I experienced in the unit have made me more compassionate, able to contribute more, and a nicer and kinder person. It also made me more independent. All of these things I am very grateful for.
Sometimes the things that seem the hardest can be of the most benefit to us. My specific example is my time in the mental health admissions unit. Being in the unit was so helpful because it took me out of my comfort zone. There is nothing wrong with being comfortable, but when you are so comfortable being inside yourself that you subsequently shut yourself away from the outside world completely, this can contribute to depression.
I strongly recommend joining outdoor groups that will take you out to physically experience nature and the beautiful surroundings that we enjoy in New Zealand. Taking part in outdoor activities such as tramping, abseiling, kayaking and other life experiences such as these does a great deal to contribute to a healthy mind. The saying ‘healthy body, healthy mind’ I find to be very true. For example the most depressed I have been in my life was when I gave up sport. Sport gave me a connection and a camaraderie with others that I normally might not have had. For me now, the best thing that I get out of sport is the social aspect and being part of a team. I care just as much about the success of the team as my own individual success. This has allowed me to develop positive relationships with my teammates, which contributes to my mental wellbeing. Having ambition is fine, but if it gets in the way of the success of the team it can lead to problems. This was one of my problems growing up. I was often too focused on what was best for me and not what was best for the team. This type of attitude can lead to problems. It led me to be distanced from my teammates and it was hard for me to develop relationships. The important thing to remember when starting a team sport is that the success of the team comes before individual success.
- Every cloud has a silver lining and there are positive lessons we can take from times that are tough.
- Seek professional help if you need it, if you seek help and admit you are struggling, you may stop yourself becoming unwell.
- A healthy body is a healthy mind, and you should aim to be as physically active as possible.