Situational depression is a type of depression brought about from life events that send you spiraling out of control. In this article we will talk about depression, stress, control, perspective changes, and how manage your life so that you can break the cycle that has perpetuated your depression. We will then discuss traveling and how it can be the answer to helping your situational depression and breaking the vicious cycle that haunts your mind and consciousness.
When we talk about depression here, we are not talking about clinical depression brought on by chemical imbalances, or diagnosed major depression disorder. We are talking about situational depression and how it fits into our lives. This article is not meant to cure you of depression or claim to be the answer to your problems. It's only meant to help you see where you can improve your life through self-realization and changing your perspective.
No matter what you hear and read, it is not human nature to be depressed. Humans have the unique ability to reason and think logically. Personally, I don't think any animals other than cetaceans(dolphins etc) or primates(monkeys, apes) function logically as do humans. There is little way for us to know this completely. Some believe dogs, cats and pigs can do this. But the fact of the matter is, we do not know. What I do know is that humans internalize their surroundings much more than the animal world appears to do and hold more fear, anxiety, stress and depression than the animal world.
The Animal World
This ability for humans to internalize is a double-edged sword. Our unique ability to logically think and reason is the genesis for our greatest depressions and our greatest joys. We see the big picture. It's the big picture that allows us to think ahead in life and make estimations on where we will be and how we can get there. This is where we truly shine as humans. We can work toward a goal and achieve and grow faster and more efficiently with passing time. Primates and cetaceans don't see the big picture, yet it's the big picture that provides the greatest level of sorrow in our minds. Situational depression wouldn't exist for us unless we could see the big picture.
Animals can get situational depression as well, but for different reasons. Do you think a dolphin or primate feels that by being in a cage or locked up in an aquarium that they have lost out on a potential future endeavors or dreams of being something they aspired to be? I can't be for sure, however doubt they have the foresight to understand this. The animal's current situation is what perpetuates THEIR depression, while humans perpetuate the situation with THEIR depression.
What Makes Us Human?
We have the ability to change our perspective and see the big picture more so than any other animal in the kingdom. Situational depression is a very real depressive disorder that is brought about by life circumstances. It can be triggered by the death of a loved one, loss of a job, dissatisfaction with goals, break-up of a relationship or simply life's stressors piling up. A human has the ability to abstractly view the future and the past and how it fits into this big picture we call life and try to control the situation by forceful means. This is what makes you different from an animal. It's the cause for war, murder, love, work, and stress.
The Butterfly Metaphor
While living in Argentina years ago, I heard of a man who was driving his car through the pampas in the south of the country. The spring flowers were in full bloom for early summer and the birds and butterflies flew effortlessly through the sky. It was a lovely day until the man's car overheated and broke down. As the man sat surprised at the steam rising from his hood, he couldn't understand what had caused him to break down on the side of the road. The weather was perfect, and he had just had the car serviced the week earlier. The man begrudgingly left the car and opened the steaming hood. As he lifted the hood, thousands of butterflies flew from the engine compartment. He soon realized what had caused the car to overheat and subsequently break down. Caked to the radiator of the car were thousands of dead butterflies. So many in fact, that the radiator could no longer cool the engine. This man didn't slip into depression, however depression is much like this car and the butterflies. Small things add up to big problems. The more you pile on your metaphorical radiator, the harder it is to cool down and before long you blow your steam. It's the little things in life that mount to cause most of our situational depression.
Stress And Anxiety
Stress is created in our lives by the needless worry that we as humans perpetuate on ourselves. Let's just define real quick anxiety. It's the physical and mental response we have to stress and worry. We worry about everything that is happening in our lives mostly because of our big picture view. It is human nature to worry. Our parents and loved ones do it when they fear for our safety. We worry about our children, and the cycle continues. Therefore it causes us stress and anxiety. They go hand in hand.
Break The Cycle
So how do we break this cycle of worrying? How do we break the worry to relieve the stress? It's all about control. Stress occurs when you perceive that the demands placed on you exceed your ability to cope with those demands. Think about that sentence. When you "perceive" the demands. It's your perception of the demands, not the demand themselves. Sometimes the demands put on us are perceived by us to be one way or another and we try to do what we can and control the outcome of our perception of the demands, when in all reality, we have no idea what the true demands are. We try to control our actions from our perceptions and in turn, we feel we can't cope with it.
Controlling Our Lives
Control is another human response that we are conditioned to believe that we can accomplish. We have the foresight in life to believe that we can shape our own destiny and by controlling everything around us, we somehow control our lives. We believe that if we can just control this aspect (whatever it is) we can relieve the stress that accompanies it. This is a lie. We lie to ourselves when we think we can control anything. Do you control anything? Has anything you controlled in life relieve the stress you feel? No one can control another person. No one can control what others say. No one can control what happens by chance in life. So why do we think we can relieve our stress in life and try to control that too? The fact is, we can only control the way we look at a situation, not the situation itself. Just let it go!
The Big Lie
We have spoken about what stress is, why we have it, and how we create it through controlling. The controlling we do is in our perception. It's the lie we tell ourselves without knowing it's a lie. We think that there is a problem when there is no problem anywhere but in our own perception and this creates stress, which then creates depression over time. We lie to ourselves and have difficulty coping with the preconceived notion about our situation when many times, it's far worse than reality. We become our own worst enemy with how we look at the world and our perceptions. So now that we know where to start, how do we start changing our perception. I guess we should know what perception means.
Perception vs Perspective
Perception means by definition; "the state of being or process of becoming aware of something through the senses." So what does perspective mean? Perspective in this case means; "a particular attitude toward or way of regarding something; a point of view. A true understanding of the relative importance of things; a sense of proportion." So the first step is becoming aware of something or your state of being.
Changing your perception about yourself is the first step. To realize that you are human, that you see the big picture and it's this big picture that you think you see, that creates this need to control your life to fit that big picture into your "ideal life". The next step is to change your attitude toward it and your point of view. To understand the relative importance of things. Relative importance? Isn't that the big picture? Isn't that what started this whole stressful worrying that has caused so much havoc in my life? Yes, it has. The relative importance of something is what you need to change. What is really important vs what we perceive is important. Therefore, you can change your perspective on life by changing your perception of it.
The Big Picture for Depression Travel Tips
Change the way you see the big picture. Realize you don't have the ability to change the past or know the future. Realize you already have the "ideal life" but maybe don't see it. Realize or "Become Aware" of your state of being by changing the way look at something. They work together just like stress and anxiety. Anxiety gives you stress, and stress gives you anxiety. Changing your perception changes your perspective and changing your perspective changes your perception. They are inversely related and pick one and try controlling that instead of the things in life you cannot control. Because after all, controlling your perception and perspective is the only thing in life you can truly control. You do that, and watch the stress, anxiety and depression melt away. Traveling can help you change your perspective.
Change in Perspective
We always end our articles with a "change in perspective". We do this, because it's our conclusion and reason we wrote the article. It's our Indefinite Journey to change our perspective constantly while traveling the world indefinitely. We have used traveling to change our perception and our perspective. We changed our point of view quite literally, which has changed our perception. Now that our perception of who we are and how we fit into the big picture has changed, our perception has changed. By traveling we have been able to "Become Aware" of other cultures and their lives, we became aware that we were not who we though we were, we became aware that we could endure much more than we thought, we became aware that we could accomplish much more than we thought we could. Come join the journey with us!