While counting your assets may not wipe away depression, it’s better than wallowing in a sea of liabilities.
By Bruce Clark
If there’s one piece of advice that can infuriate and maybe even mystify someone who is depressed, that advice would be, “Chin up!” Telling a person who is depressed to “snap out of it” or to “be strong” is like telling someone who has diabetes to not have a blood sugar spike.
That’s not to say there isn’t something to be said for the idea of being cognizant of one’s own attitude and having a healthy, realistic perspective.
One of the paradoxes of mental health awareness and the advancements made in antidepressant and anti-anxiety medications is the false notion that medication is a panacea and that simply taking a pill will make all your problems disappear.
The right medication can address chemical imbalance, but it’s been my experience that having a more holistic approach to my own depression and anxiety serves me better in the long run. I have to constantly remind myself that my attitude and outlook are among the things I can try to control, and that they can make a big difference in my mental health.
It was a very unpleasant time in my life that forced me to give myself the attitude adjustment I sorely needed.
A few years ago I ran into some financial difficulties. Money might not be able to buy you happiness, but the lack of money can make you very unhappy. Debt can be a paralyzing burden for anyone. For those like me, who can be thrown for a loop with unpleasant surprises, it can be debilitating.
Even though I don’t like blaming an external force for my internal maelstrom, this new financial burden sent me into a tailspin and was a catalyst for a serious bit of depression and anxiety. In fact, it was by far the worst episode I had experienced in a very long time.
My sleep patterns were horrible and the first thing that entered my head in the morning and the last thought I had at night was that this new debt was going to bring me down. The whole world was ending, life would not be worth living, and what was the point of it all?
Money might not be able to buy you happiness, but the lack of money can make you very unhappy.
When I look back at that period in my life in a so-called “normal” state of mind, it seems to be a pretty dramatic reaction to the kind of life stressor that happens to almost everyone at some point in their lives.
It was so bad I had to make an emergency evening appointment with my psychiatrist, whom I normally only see a few times a year to check on my medications.
I spent 90 minutes with my doctor that night. He was able to calm me down by discussing my situation and by prescribing something for anxiety that was off the charts.
During our session, he helped me realize certain facts: That things weren’t as bad as I had made them out to be. That I had the tools to make things better.
He also said something to me as I was leaving: “This probably won’t be the last time some- thing like this happens in your life. It might be good to think about how to approach it the next time.”
I went home and made a list of my financial liabilities and assets and quickly realized that even with this latest hit, we were in okay financial shape. The sky wasn’t falling.
As corny as it sounds, I then wrote down all the things in my life that I considered “life assets.” The long list of things that made me happy and life worth living included my wife, our dogs, my family, all my terrific friends, and our good health. When I tried to make a list of “life liabilities,” I couldn’t think of any other than my growing bald spot.
I made a pact with myself to keep my focus on my life assets, knowing a stronger me would help battle the demons.
About a year later, when I endured another serious bump in the road, that attitude helped to mitigate my distress. I was able to use the wisdom I’d gained from my earlier experience to avoid the heavy emotional toll that can accompany life’s inevitable pitfalls.
Counting my assets won’t eliminate anxiety or depression, but it’s far better than drowning in a pool of liabilities, real or imagined.
Printed as “To Calm Money Worries, Count ‘Life Assets'”, Winter 2018
via Esperanza – Hope To Cope
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