Depression during COVID for Australian Filipina couples
Depression! Not a pleasant topic, I know. But it’s fairly common and I’m sure many of our clients are experiencing depression right now. It’s obvious. And I think I can help, therefore I’ll do my best to give some practical advice.
Depression – a definition
Depression is a constant feeling of sadness and loss of interest, which stops you doing your normal activities. Different types of depression exist, with symptoms ranging from relatively minor to severe. Generally, depression does not result from a single event, but from a mix of events and factors.
That’s a definition from Victoria Health that I just looked up. A fair summary. A constant feeling of sadness and loss of interest that stops you doing your normal activities. Yes, that’s depression.
And yes, usually caused by a number of factors.
Some probably examples:
- COVID-caused lockdowns
- COVID-caused border closures keeping you apart from your loved-one
- COVID-caused economic problems
- COVID-caused social isolation
I think most of us can relate to these right now. Being apart, that would of course be the worst for those of you stuck apart in different countries.
And let’s not downplay this. Depression is serious stuff. It will cause a lot of misery and personal suffering, and it can harm your relationship if it causes you to say harsh things to the man or woman that you love. It can also make it impossible to do the things you need to do, ie earn a living, be a good parent to your kids, prepare visa applications and to keep your relationship healthy. In other words, depression can cause you to lose the most precious things in your life.
Is depression a sign of weakness? Is it shameful?
Everyone has their breaking point. Everyone has feelings, fears and insecurities. It’s part of being human. Maybe you’re not used to talking about your feelings? Well, if you’re in a relationship then it’s time you started learning. You can’t have a great relationship and keep your feelings to yourself. Simple as that!
So yes, you need to talk to your partner!
You should also talk to friends, especially those who are close to you and will be on your side. The last thing you want to do is to talk to those who may let you down or put you down! So use your judgement.
Before all that, you need to admit it to yourself.
This is fresh in my mind because one of my teenagers finally told me she’d been suffering for the last few months. I knew she was, but she wouldn’t tell me. Such a waste! But at least she finally blurted it out and let me help her. If you are the same, or if you suspect your partner is depressed? Do not let it rest! It won’t go away by itself. (She’s doing really good now, by the way! And no, just like you she did NOT deserve it!)
Please note here. I am NOT a psychologist. I do visa applications! Yes I have insight into Australian Filipina relationships and I’m an old-bloke who’s been around the block a few times, but this is another matter. I’m only speaking from personal experience and I think I have a practical approach. I hope it can help you.
Should you see a psychologist or counsellor?
Up to you entirely. My experience, I’ve found most of them next to useless. I saw figures once on people who attended marriage counselling, and it showed you had a better chance of resolving your issues discussing them with an experienced older couple than speaking to a so-called expert. It’s a profession (my opinion!) that attracts people trying to solve their own problems. And it’s a fairly inexact science.
My opinion? Unless you really do know of a good counsellor with practical advice and plenty of life-experience, I would steer clear.
How can I manage it by myself? CAN I manage it by myself?
Yes, I think you can. Most definitely. And this applies to chronic depression and that caused by tough circumstances.
What can you do?
That’s the very first. If you lay back and take it…..lock yourself in a room thinking sad thoughts….it will definitely not go away. FIGHT it! That’s the very first thing you have to do. Sit around feeling sorry for yourself and I guarantee you will be stuck with it!
Don’t accept the negative thoughts!
If you have thoughts in your head like these, you must not accept them:
- I deserve this, and I don’t deserve to be happy
- Nobody loves me (or even likes me)
- This is the voice of wisdom inside my head
- My parents/ex-wife/ex-husband/school bully was right!
- I can’t talk to anyone, because they will think I’m being stupid
Yes, it’s like voices in your head. Not schizophrenic voices! Not that extreme. Just black thoughts! Winston Churchill (he was bipolar) used to call the depression phase “the black dog”. Ugly thoughts that fill your head and make you feel that everything is hopeless.
Oh, and stay away from negative people! Those people who enjoy putting you down! You don’t need them!
And stop reading every bit of COVID news that comes about! Especially on social media, where the misery-merchants love to spread anything to make you feel worse! Can you cure COVID by listening and talking about it? No? Then focus on something else!
Shift your focus
Shift your focus from negative things into positive things. Do this in your HEAD, and do this in a practical way!
In your head
Also known as “count your blessings”!
We all have good things, and it shouldn’t be that hard to think about them. Yes, everyone has negatives, but everyone has positives too. I do. YOU do!
- Are you a good friend?
- Are you a good husband/wife/partner?
- Are you a good parent?
- Are you a good son/daughter/sister/brother?
Yes, go through and tick things off that you GENERALLY get right
- Are you lucky to have met a wonderful lady or gentleman? (You BETTER tick YES to this)
- Are you lucky to have your kids?
- Are you lucky to be living in Australia? Having a roof over your head? Food on the table? Or lucky to be going to Australia someday soon?
- What good things have happened to you lately?
- What achievements have you made, personally and/or practically?
- What exciting things are about to happen? Plans? Future events?
How did you go? Probably better than you expected, right?
I remember working this one out years ago. The word “confidence”. Everyone would tell me to be more confident. But how do you gain this?
Well, fairly simple. And this applies to the above as well.
Confidence comes from success. And fighting depression can be much the same.
1. Think of something you do well. Maybe you’re good at sport? Good at your job? A good salesman. A good carpenter. TELL yourself what you’re good at!
1.1 What if you’re not so good at sport, or at your job, or not the greatest husband?
Well, MAKE yourself good at it! Try harder! Run faster when you’re playing football! Start earlier and work longer at your job. Go the “extra mile”! Go and tell your wife/husband you love them and tell them why!
2. Then add those things to your mental list-of-positives! Much easier to fight the black thoughts when you choose to fill your head with positives, right?
And you know what? The more you reflect on your strong points, and the more you keep collecting more strong-point reflections, the easier basically everything will be! Make this your new habit.
Outside-your-head positive actions
So much easier to maintain positive thoughts in a positive atmosphere! Sit alone listening to sad music. Hang around negative, sour-faced people. Good luck trying to fight this!
Get off your backside!
Get out of your room. Get out of the house. Get away from negative people!
Go outside. Move about. Get some fresh air and some sunshine. Got kids? Go play with them! Got some positive friends? Go talk to them! You can have heart-to-hearts with good friends if you need to, but there is also great value in just having some fun conversation.
Me? I’m someone with 8 kids in the house! Oldest is 18. Youngest is 2 1/2. In fact we have two of them in our family at that age. I promise you it is IMPOSSIBLE to watch two x 2 1/2 year olds jumping like kangaroos and laughing hysterically and to remain depressed!
Whatever you do, do NOT be alone and do NOT sit around! Get moving!
Do something positive!
Do something you enjoy! This is an extension of “get off your backside”.
What do you like doing? Riding motorbikes? Making furniture? Gardening? Painting? Swimming? Walking? Playing sport?
Or are you devoid of hobbies and interests? Been too busy working and doing those domestic things and haven’t found time just for yourself? Well, this is probably part of your problem and one you should fix ASAP.
FIND something you like doing! Then do it!
I used to be a workaholic and family-aholic. That was all I did. Well, I had a business to create, and I’m proud of what I did. But I’ve done more delegating these days and have found some time to myself for me-things.
- I walk
- I lift weights
These things make me feel physically better, and you know? You cannot benchpress and think negative thoughts at the same time. You really can’t! You’re thinking how heavy it is, and counting reps. One….(groan)….two……thhhhreeeeee……
At the start? You might feel the pressures of the day on your shoulders. Afterwards? You wonder what on earth could have made you feel that way.
I’m sure anyone who runs or plays cricket or plays the piano would feel much the same.
Look after your health!
If you feel physically better, you WILL feel mentally and emotionally better. Fact!
I’m sure quite a few of you have put on some weight over the COVID thing. Many have stopped exercising or getting much physical activity. Maybe more cake? Ice cream? Junk food? Netflix and a bag of chips? Sometimes, but not all the time!
Make some better choices!
- Get enough sleep
- Go easy on the alcohol
- Eat more low-carb food (ie less sugar, bread, pasta, rice, etc)
- Eat less processed food (that includes takeaway)
- Get yourself out in the sun more. There’s a correlation between how much light you are exposed to, and depression! Plus you get more Vitamin D which will improve your resistance.
- Exercise! Walk! Jog! Do yoga. Do zumba. Lift weights. Do cardio exercises.
- Get some Ashwagandha supplements! Yes, I’m serious. Helps balance mood swings.
Basically? Fight it! Keep fighting it! Replace negative things, negative thoughts, negative people, negative behaviour. Replace with positive thoughts, activities, atmospheres, behaviours, and people. Count your blessings! And keep it up!