beat depression

Don’t Fight the Funk: How To Deal With Depression

For those of us who suffer with a mental disorder, such as depression and anxiety, we are all too familiar with the funk.

However, you do not even need a mental disorder, just a beating heart, to have experienced the funk.

The best way I can describe it is a period of time, whether it be for a few moments or many months, where you feel unbalanced, unmotivated, hopeless, restless, overwhelmed, fuzzy, the list could go on and on.

Perhaps the worst characteristic of the funk is that it shows up unexpectedly and without notice. Like an uninvited guest showing up at your door right after you get out of the shower, you are unprepared for it.

It hits you like a bag of bricks and you are left asking where it came from? And even more puzzling is why it showed up?

I was hit with a funk a little over a week ago. Thankfully, it only lasted for about a week (though it was a very long week I might add).

In retrospect, there were events and situations in my life that had potential to throw me into this funk. Unfortunately, I was able to spot them only after the funk had made its exit. My revelation was about seven days too late.

It was not a terribly dramatic event that threw me into a funk but rather a few subtle life changes that I perhaps was not prepared to deal with.

As a result, I was sleeping horribly, mentally exhausted, had trouble focusing, and basically felt my mind was wrapped in a cloud.

I needed clarity.

This was my first mistake. I was constantly thinking, “I need to get out of this funk. The cloud needs to disappear. I need to focus so I can be productive. I simply do not have time for this.”

While in a funk-state of mind, I think these are similar to thoughts many of us have. As humans, we do not like to feel bad. So we tell ourselves to knock it off and get into a positive mind set.

Oh, if only the mind were that easily trained.

We think that finding clarity should be simple so we demand it be that way. Then, when we find ourselves struggling to find peace, we get frustrated and overwhelmed. Now we have exhausted even more energy from our already exhausted body and mind.

So what should we do when we find ourselves in the funk? We simply cannot just sit there and wait for it to pass. Who has the time for that? And who would want to?!

Doing nothing is not the solution but neither is actively seeking out a way to make the problem disappear.

Trying to think your way out of the funk is almost as unproductive as sitting there waiting for it to get out of your way.

What my weeklong funk taught me is that sometimes there are forces that take over that we simply cannot control.

Personally, I deal with anxiety and have for some time. As much as I wish I had the control to simply make the anxiety stop altogether, I have learned that is a super power I do not possess.

Instead of spending time controlling my anxious thoughts, I have found activities that bring me joy, calm, and help to quiet some of my anxious tendencies.

Telling myself, “Don’t be anxious, don’t be anxious!” makes me a heck of a lot more anxious.

So why then do I think that demanding myself out of a funk will work?

It won’t.

Feeling sad and overwhelmed and all the emotions that come along with a funk is a truly unpleasant experience. But do not make it worse for yourself.

Next time you find yourself in a funk, do not fight it. Remind yourself that it is simply a series of emotions that you do not need to chase away immediately.

Keep in mind that attempts to fight the thoughts, will only perpetuate them.

So what should you do?

I found there were little things I could do that brought some relief. I took a walk to buy some fresh flowers. I cooked myself a good meal. I ordered a new drink at Starbucks.

By no means are these profound solutions. But who says it has to be? Perhaps an accumulation of small steps will lead you out of the funk.

For me, finally getting a good night’s sleep and a hot shower helped me to see through the fog a little better.

The most important thing to keep in mind is that whatever you choose to do, whether it be getting out of bed long enough to buy a coffee or take a shower, I guarantee it will make you feel better than just lying there demanding yourself to be better.

These small acts can seem so strenuous when you are feeling so low but I promise it will be worth the effort.

Do not fight the funk but rather find the little things that will make you feel better while you are in it. More often than not, these ‘little things’ will not only make you feel better but will also shorten the duration of the funk.

Emily Holland is a graduate student, obtaining her Masters degree in Psychology. A writer, blogger, and self-help junkie, she lives and breathes personal development and growth. Visit her blog, http://wakeuptojava.wordpress.com/
and follow her on twitter, https://twitter.com/wakeuptojava
  • MichaelDeRosa

    Moving ahead is important, no matter how small the step is. Thank you for your candid writing. I am hoping it will help others who are troubled with ‘the funk’

    • http://twitter.com/wakeuptojava Emily Holland

      Michael, moving ahead is SO important and yet feels so difficult at times. You’re right- even the smallest step is one step closer from where you were before. Glad you appreciate my candid writing!

  • amyb

    This was great! Thanks for sharing.

    • http://twitter.com/wakeuptojava Emily Holland

      Glad you enjoyed it, Amy!

  • http://www.facebook.com/suzanne.jonesimpens Suzanne Jones Impens

    I too have felt the ‘funk’ many times in my life. (and I call it funk, too) I agree we should not fight it as it breeds more anxiety. By fighting it we tend to beat ourselves up which is totally unproductive. I have learned we can control our thoughts if we choose to ask ourselves a better question. I recently had to take my own advice and it works like a charm. Also not to generalize, and use better language. The whole world is NOT crashing in, I just have a few unfortunate events that are making me uncomfortable.
    That’s what works for me :)
    Great post. I don’t get anxious often but on the occasion I do it can really mess things up!

    • Emily

      Hi Suzanne, not generalizing and using ‘nicer’ language is something I am trying to get better at as well. Especially while in those ‘funks,’ I tend to do some serious catastrophic thinking and language I use towards myself is far from kind! I find it much easier to offer advice but tend to forget to use it myself. Hopefully I can take my own advice next time! Thanks for offering what works for you :)

  • http://halinagoldstein.com/blog Halina Goldstein

    Thank you Emily!

    As you suggest, funk is a natural human condition. In fact, it is something that comes and goes for most of us. And you’re so right! – not fighting it is the key. Just like when you’re trying to find something at the bottom of a sandy lake, the key is not to dig and search for it – that will just stir the sandy waters and make it impossible to see anything. The best thing to do is just wait until it clears up by itself.

    Also, many times, what we experience as funk is really sign of inner work. It’s not unusual that when funk lifts off, you’re not only back to where you were before, but have also gained a little bit more clarity, or joy, or insight. Not through deliberate effort but as a result of that inner, subconscious process.

    I also think it’s important to accept beforehand so to speak that it comes and goes – that it is natural this way. Especially if you’re moving through something that usually takes multiple years to heal completely – such as loss of a loved one, for example.

    • http://twitter.com/wakeuptojava Emily Holland

      Hi Halina! I’m so glad you mentioned how after the funk is lifted, you are left with a clarity and motivation to get back on your feet. That is exactly how I feel a few days after the funk made its exit. I am more focused and energized. Funny how the brain works..sometimes it has to knock you down a few notches before bringing you back better than you were before!

      • http://halinagoldstein.com/blog Halina Goldstein

        Exactly! We’re just not used to trusting these waves and cycles! (but we’re learning, right? :-))

  • Danielle Marie

    I really enjoyed this post, Emily! As someone with depression and anxiety myself, it really resonated with me, especially when you said “It was not a terribly dramatic event that threw me into a funk but rather a few subtle life changes that I perhaps was not prepared to deal with.” It seems like when other people notice I’m in a funk and ask me what led to it, I can never give an answer that satisfies them. It’s really reassuring to hear that I’m not the only one who can get knocked over by less-than-traumatic events.

    • http://twitter.com/wakeuptojava Emily Holland

      Hi Danielle, I’m glad you were able to relate! It always feels better when we know we aren’t completely alone in having not-so-happy moments. I can definitely be frustrating when people ask what’s wrong and you have no idea yourself! I think that’s when the self-punishment begins. “Why should I feel so terrible when things around me don’t appear to be so bad?!” We don’t need an excuse to feel bad though..it’s just a part of life. The most we can do is find the best way to react to it!

  • http://www.facebook.com/darktranquilty Josh Langley

    My ex girlfriend left me about 6 months ago after a 2 year relationship . I have been in this “funk” ever since and even more so now that I know she has met someone else. Do you think these smaller things will help in this case? I’ve honestly tried to do small things like go see a movie with the guys or go to the bar have a drink or 2 with the guys, but it just comes back to me and everytime it does it feels like I have been hit by a train.

    • http://twitter.com/wakeuptojava Emily Holland

      Hi Josh, I’m sorry to hear about your break-up with your girlfriend. A break-up actually contributed to my recent funk that I wrote about. I know exactly how you feel- I’ve been there many times before! I have found a silver living though..after every break up I always give myself time to “date” myself. It sounds silly but finding things that empower and give me a sense of independence helps me to realize I am a lot stronger than I give myself credit for..and that perhaps I don’t need to always have someone by my side all the time. I recently went to see a movie, ALL BY MYSELF, which I had never done before. I have to tell you, it was a really empowering experience. The fact that I could sit in a movie theater without someone next to me and still enjoy myself gave me a real sense of self-satisfaction. Perhaps you need to reconnect with YOURSELF and discover the things you enjoy and appreciate about yourself. If you check out my blog, I write a lot about my experience of feeling alone in a big city. I hope this helps. Keep your chin up! :)

      • http://twitter.com/JackGrabon Jack Grabon

        Great advice Emily. It sort of reminds me of Julia Cameron’s “artist dates” that she suggests you go on alone. They don’t have to be anything spectacular, but something that you enjoy doing (or want to try) and can potentially do by yourself.

        I also like your idea of not trying to dissolve the funk and trying to fight it as ups and downs are a part of life. They may be trying to tell us something on a deeper level. Getting to know all aspects of ourselves can tell us something about who we are and what may have contributed to the way we feel.

    • Rohan Varma

      Dude…read ‘how to fall out of love by Dr. Debora Philips…

  • http://www.facebook.com/Rachna.Justme Rachna Bobade

    Hi Emily, I truly enjoyed reading your article and I came across it at the right time. My previous company got shut down in July 2012 and I was at home for 4 months and at the same time my 2 years old now on now off relationship with my ex was over. It was a major setback for me but I started doing things that made me feel good like going for a movie alone, though initially I felt a bit out of the place but I started enjoying the experience. In Jan 2013 I got a job but there were lot of problem I encountered there, like the company not wanting to provide me with enough resources and tolls to get my job done. I am in recruitments and I was not given any portal, they did not wanted to invest in any job portals, did not want to share the positions with consultants, and they started pointing at silly mistakes of mine which had nothing do to with recruitments and one fine day just 3 months after i completed they asked me to leave. I only became aware of the loop holes after I joined. Now while I came across these loopholes my confidence hit an all time low, I started losing weight felt exhausted, basically I was not enjoying the job at all. Its been a month I am at home, but I am feeling upset, have no confidence to appear for any interview. I want to change the field, do not want to be in recruitments but I am so lost that I am not able to think through, I feel like I am only going to struggle all my life. I try to make myself feel better but after sometime I feel like I do not deserve to be happy, and I feel a lot more worried about my career and also about finding the right man. Please help me.

    • http://twitter.com/wakeuptojava Emily Holland

      Hi Rachna, I’m sorry that you are going through a rough time right now. I know how terrible it can be when you feel lost in multiple areas of your life. I feel so frustrated and anxious at times for not having it all figured out…career, relationship, money, it’s all so up in the air. I had a panic attack about 2 years ago, which I later realized was a result of all my anxiety about the future. So trust me, I’ve been there! What I have tried to remind myself in those anxious times is that I will NEVER figure out the solution to the problem in my current, anxious, negative mindset. It’s just not possible. How can you come up with a positive solution when your mind is so clouded? Instead of focusing on the solution to the problem, focus first on getting your mind straight. And then have patience that the solution will present itself. Getting your mind straight is easier said than done, right? Make the effort to find what will pull you out from under all the negativity. It may take awhile but if you are COMMITTED to feeling better about yourself, eventually it will pan out. Telling yourself that you ARE deserving of happiness (because you are just as much as the rest of us!) may be your first step to committing to a more positive mode of thinking. I hope this helps, Rachna. Keep looking up!

      • http://www.facebook.com/Rachna.Justme Rachna Bobade

        Thanks for your reply Emily, I am not able to think straight right now, but I am hoping too that I should come out of this mess soon.

    • Guess

      Check your “Other” folder in facebook messages and perhaps you just might find the right man, Racha. Brooding over the past is not going to change anything so you might as well forget it and find ways to motivate yourself to work towards a brighter tomorrow. So rise and shine and keep your eyes wide open or you just might miss Mr. Right without even knowing! ;)

  • Nancy

    I prefer to read your pieces in my email as opposed to clicking onto the site. Recently, the post formatting makes them unreadable. I do wish you would fix.

  • Morgan Decker

    Whenever I feel anxious or stressed, I always find myself fighting it and then worrying about it more. I agree that you need to do something small for yourself to distract yourself. I’ll cook myself a nice meal or go out and buy some fresh flowers to brighten my home and then sit down, breathe, and get back to work. Great post!

  • Farhana

    Thank you Emily for your post. I feel depressed. I don’t know what can i do.

    http://www.ourdhakacity.com/

  • http://twitter.com/nochnoch Noch Noch

    Hi Emily

    Thanks for the article. I have clinical depression and on the good days, I completely agree with what you said. However, on the bad days, we have no motivation at all to even take a hot shower or cook a good meal. There is no interest in life or being alive. So it’s hard to do – and that’s the irony of clinical depression, for what is good for us we are unable to bring ourselves to do. NEvertheless, I agree we need to embrace the depression / anxiety. It brings us to a level of self-awareness I had never experienced before. And while it is painful, I thank depression for coming to me, for it has allowed me to rediscover myself.

    Noch Noch

  • muhammad ahmad

    Thanks Emily, your post comes on time !!, I was feeling depressed and unmotivated , am gonna try your advice

  • Amir

    hi emily thanks for this article, i experience this anxiety since 6 months ago, until now. in a time before it happen, i don’t know what evil has come into my mind that suddenly i doubt about myself, whether i can make my future wife satisfied or not. then slowly it makes my mood gone, and makes me uninterest to my GF. then we break up. i already check to doctor and doctor said there is no problem in my body. but it still didn’t make me feel alright.

  • J.Smth

    I’m not sure I’m depressed, but I started a blog to deal with it and other issues in my life..

    http://possiblydepressed.blogspot.com/

  • meitaljames

    Turmeric was just found (again) to be the natural alternative to Prozac. Natural and no side effects. FYI.

  • Pingback: How to Beat Depression mind mapIQ Matrix Blog

  • Nikolay Perov

    Good points) Good post) “To accept” is the best solution to fight (without fighting) depression, obsessive thoughts, negative emotion and so on!