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14 Things I Learned While Battling Depression

The road to recovery seemed endless, but I got there, and picked up a few lessons along the way.

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1. You do not have to justify your depression to anyone.

Tlnovelas

There is not an assembly that meets up each year to come up with a list of the things that you're allowed to be depressed about. If anybody ever has the gall to come up to you and tell you that you've got no right to be depressed because you have 'this' or 'that', please go all telenovela on them.

2. The healing process does not follow a predictable path.

Parks and Recreation

Do not fret if after a few days, weeks or months of feeling good, you feel bad again. This is completely normal. Small relapses are not defeats. As long as your goal is to heal, you will be moving forward.

3. You will be very, very, very tempted to give up. Don't.

The http://O.C.

There is a point in the recovery where you feel like you're going nowhere. There is absolutely no way you can see yourself feeling better. You calculate all possible outcomes in your mind and you can see nothing but bullsh*t ahead. This will make you mad, frustrated, confused and downright furious. Then despair sweeps in, and you're miserable again.

There is no way around this stage. The best thing I can tell you about it is:

If you're feeling all of these negative emotions, somewhere in your brain you hold the capacity to feel the other side of the spectrum: joy, peace, happiness and serenity. 'If you're going through hell, keep going', and one day without warning, there will be a teeny, tiny, weeny glimmer of hope in the horizon, and you'll know you've pulled through.

P.S: If at this point, you are contemplating suicide, please reach out to someone.

4. Not everyone will understand, and that is fine.

New Girl

When I finally told my family and friends I had been diagnosed with clinical depression and had been on medical treatment, I received both positive and negative reactions. I built my support system with those who expressed concern and avoided those who didn't understand.

5. Understanding my emotions made all the difference.

The http://O.C.

During my first episode, I saw a psychiatrist and started a six month antidepressant treatment. During my second less intense episode, I chose psychotherapy and psychological theory books.

My therapist would dig into my past and dissect my primary relationships and unresolved traumas. I would later on do research on what was discussed in our sessions. Understanding my emotions and why I felt the way I felt was crucial for my recovery, which leads me to the following point:

6. “Until you make the unconscious conscious, it will direct your life and you will call it fate.” - Carl Jung

New Girl

Simply put, self-destructive behavior tends to have a subconscious origin that sprouts from an unresolved event or trauma.

This may cause you to get in bad relationships, put up with emotional abuse, be aggressive towards others, get uncontrollable fits of rage, become easily addicted to things, and a plethora of other behavior you try to correct but just can't seem to do so. Until you understand the origin of that behavior, you may constantly find yourself thinking 'Why does this keep happening to me?!'

However, if you're at a point where your behavior poses a threat to yourself and/or others, please seek help immediately.

7. There is a difference between solitude and loneliness.

Parks and Recreation

My thoughts were intrusive, merciless and cruel. I clung to anything that could silence them with my life. This is what often leads people to seek solace in unhealthy addictions.

Part of my therapy was to spend at least 5 minutes alone with myself once a day. The first few times, I couldn't handle it and had to call or text someone, watch a movie, or anything that could distract me. In time, 5 minutes became 10, then 20, then 30, and so on. As my thoughts became less intense, I understood the appeal of 'me-time'.

This doesn't mean that distractions are bad, but constantly engaging in them postpones your recovery. It's hard work, and you need to keep at it.

8. Taking care of yourself is crucial.

Anchorman

When my therapist suggested that I congratulate myself every time I took a shower, I briefly thought I was wasting my money. I did it begrudgingly while glaring at myself in the mirror the first few times. But, I had nothing to lose at that point.

I couldn't really point out when the shift occurred, but in time, I started combing my hair, dressing a bit better, eating healthier and sleeping the required amount of hours. Slowly, but surely, I felt better and more confident.

9. Resilience, Resilience, Resilience.

NBC/Friends

Life will keep throwing you curve balls for as long as you live, and those of us who have had episodes of depression are at a disadvantage in dealing and overcoming them. So, if there is one thing you need to work at more than anything, is resilience.

Relapses will probably occur, but building resilience will help you crawl out of your episodes faster and faster each time.

10. Flexible thinking is a great asset to have.

The Big Bang Theory

Rigorous and stubborn thinking will only frustrate you; especially if things don't go according to plan or situations don't evolve the way you expected them to. Being mentally flexible is a form of adaptation, and this ability goes hand in hand with resilience.

11. Your social circles will magically start to change.

Bridesmaids

“The meeting of two personalities is like the contact of two chemical substances: if there is any reaction, both are transformed.”

― C.G. Jung

Following Jung's metaphor of chemical substances, as you heal, your chemical composition changes, therefore the 'new you' will not react how it used to to old chemicals.

Toxic relationships will organically start to dissolve. You will not have the desire or patience to be around people who bring you down anymore.

12. Self-Compassion is a wonderful, wonderful thing.

New Girl

Self-compassion is just as important, if not more, than self-esteem.

During episodes of depression, we are merciless on ourselves. We believe we're worthless, and we don't deserve this, or don't deserve that. We belittle our achievements and aggrandize our failures. I don't have to explain why this is detrimental to your mental health, so do as much as you can to practice self-compassion.

13. There are more people willing to support you than you think.

CW

In recent years, mental health awareness has been on the rise. More people understand that you don't really choose to feel this way, and that mental health is just as important as physical health. Chances are you will find not only people who understand you, but others who have been through similar experiences and pulled through.

Who knows, in a few years, it might be you helping someone overcome a severe episode.

14. You are not your depression.

beyoncegifs.tumblr.com / Via beyoncegifs.tumblr.com

"Don't limit yourself because of past experiences. Who you are right now is someone you've never been before." - Scott Stabile

Having suffered from depression doesn't make you any better or any less than other human beings. Do not make it a protagonist in your life; that is giving it power it doesn't have. Doing that would be like going to a cake tasting event with your taste buds burnt: pointless.

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