In the wake of Robin Williams' suicide, there has been much talk about depression and its all too powerful grip. While I wish it didn't take tragedies like this to bring such conversations to the mainstream, I am thankful that the dialogue has been amped up and that people seem to be listening.
My Personal Struggle
It may seem odd that I am writing about depression in a blog that's about service, but there is a link and it's personal. I have battled depression for as long as I can remember -- sometimes mild, sometimes more severe -- and have successfully used service to cope with the sometimes debilitating effects of depression.
For me, there is something about immersing myself in certain types of service that transports me to a different place. It's a place of clarity where I can see the beauty in my life and what I have to offer the world; where I can practice being more compassionate and empathetic to others and myself; that fosters the building of self-esteem and self-acceptance; and, where I feel needed and appreciated. The combination of all of that and more enables me to shift my mental state and time after time alleviates many of the feelings associated with depression.
Help Others, Help Yourself
I am by no means saying that service is a "cure" for depression, as I'm not sure there is any such thing. But, I know first hand that it can be an effective tool in the management of depression. And, the more you do it the more effective it is.
If you suffer from depression, I hope you will consider seeing how being of service to others can benefit you. Or, if you know someone who is dealing with their own battle with depression, ask them to join you on your next service activity -- it might just change their life.
As always, I encourage you to apply my Five Commitments -- be present, check your ego, do what's asked, be a student and focus on the good -- to get the most out of your experience.
Finally, if you are looking to get involved in service, consider how you can help those facing depression. Perhaps you can volunteer for a crisis hotline, help raise money for an organization that deals with depression or simply visit with someone in need.