Some people will never know the disease that is depression and for that they are most fortunate. Some call it a feeling, others tell you to snap out of it: ‘you’re not the only person out here with problems’.
They say, “We all have our personal issues. Someone is struggling more than you are, yet you seem to be making a concious effort to be miserable.” Can you blame them? Depression isn’t leprosy. It’s not a disease visible to the naked eye although it eats away at you.
I’ve never blogged anything related to personal issues. I guess there is a first time for everything and through my counsel I hope that you’ll be able to ‘snap out of it’, or that you would at least try.
I’ve dealt with depression twice. Both times after an incident that I allowed to shape my life and dictate who I was. I’m familiar with the feeling of hollowness deep in your gut and the pain in your throat when you scream into your pillow. Before I struggled with depression I would have never imagined the pain could be so physical. I remember saying to someone that ‘depression is an addiction’ because I was certain that it was something you grew to love. I felt that way once, even after having experienced it the first time, because I thought if I could progress from what I’d been through then I could shake it off at other times. So I laughed off remarks about it. I was to come to the realisation, however, that it didn’t work that way. Yes, it can be addiction but like every other addiction you don’t wallow in it because you love it. You don’t grow to love depression. You hate it. It’s not a thing that you draw close to. It’s a thing you fall into.
I think the second time was worse than the first because it was a relapse. You know, like when a person extends an arm to help you out of the water and you gratefully accept their hand, but they push you back in and hold your head down. If you’re going through that dark tunnel, there is a light at the end. The only thing you have to do is walk through. I can’t tell you to simply ‘be happy’ because that’s dumb advice. Nobody desires to be sad. No one longs for tragedy. Everybody wants to laugh and mean it. If you’re reading this it means you really want to not feel this way.
When I read articles about depression before I wrote this, I saw a lot of well-meaning yet useless advice. ‘Know that you are unique’, ‘remember that you are special’, ‘if someone hurts you they are not worth your time’… that’s advice for people who feel down, temporarily broken-hearted, not for adult people going through severe and prolonged mental distress. Besides if someone hurts you it doesn’t necessarily mean that they are not worth your time.
The first thing you’re going to want to do is draw your blinds. Open them wide. It’s not a metaphor. Get up, walk to your window, and draw the blinds. Let the sun in. Let the light in. Let the world in. That is already a step in the right direction.
Next, clean out your space. It’s more comfortable when you don’t have the light in your eyes and when your room is clustered. It’s not because you’re a dirty person. It’s because the mess is familiar, warm and cosy. It makes you feel less lonely but cleaning out your space symbolises a fresh slate.
Quit social media for a while. If you don’t make a living on social network platforms and you have no obligations to people on Facebook or Instagram it might help to quit social media. Let the people who want to reach out to you call you or text you. For some time delete the apps and let them stay deleted no matter what.
Go outside. Take a stroll during the day. Not in the night when it’s cold and stray dogs are trotting the empty streets. Go outside to the open market. The problem with being in the bad head space is not being outside, it’s getting the will power to go outside. You don’t feel like you should get out of bed or open your windows but you have to. You just have to if you really intend to leave depression behind. Let’s say depression likes to stay in dark corners for now. You’ll find that once you’re outside you’ll be interested in what’s going on around you, you might not want to return home.
Tell someone about it. Your mental health is important. If you don’t tell people they won’t know. I’ve been called ‘that bitch’ or worse because people don’t know the things you’re going through. You can’t tell everyone about your personal issues but you have to tell someone. If you don’t want to seek help from a professional tell a family member or a loved one. Even if they don’t seem to understand, telling them is good for you. They’ll think about it. They’ll consider it. There has to be that one person that you can tell. You don’t know that you’re misunderstood until you actually tell someone.
Watch a comedy show. I would recommend one that you’ve never seen before but you can trust to be really funny.
Don’t hold on to the past. That was the first lesson I learned and am still learning. Every time I caught myself thinking about things that had happened I would start doing something else; hum or draw or write poems. If someone hurt you, you have to let it go. Forgive them. If it comes back to haunt you forgive them all over again.
People who get depressed are usually perfectionists. They want everything to be ‘right’ and when that doesn’t work out they begin to blame themselves and make it difficult for people around them. Like being afraid if things don’t go a certain way you’ll be punished. Then punishing yourself when the high standards you set for yourself aren’t met. They develop a mistrust towards the system. Many times they come from families with very controlling parents. Children who were maltreated, punished over little things or born into deeply conservative families are at a higher risk of suffering from depression.
I know our childhoods shape our lives but they don’t have to control us. It’s okay to not be perfect. It’s okay to be human. Try to work on yourself but not harshly. Cry when you must and laugh when you need to. But it’s not okay to think that you’re worthless. It’s not okay to cry every single day. Let the past be the past. Give life and love and laughter another chance. Get up. Go draw the blinds and let the light in.
Got any more tips? You never know who you might be encouraging. Leave a comment below. Hope this helped in some way. Virtual hugs!