Updated: Jul 5, 2021
It's a heavy blanket you can't take off. A room full of smoke and you can't find the window to get some air. I have been there, more times than I can count. I know what it feels like. I can safely guarantee that almost everyone you have ever met or will ever meet has experienced it at least once. For some of us, it's really hard to shake. It's hard to find a way out, but that doesn't mean you can't escape it. That doesn't mean you can't let it go. You can, but you need to do the work.
I'm going to say something you might not want to hear, but for the sake of your health, you need to read it. Ready? ... Depression is an opportunity to feel better. Depression is a way for your heart, your mind, or your body to tell you something is not right and there's work to do in order to prevent further harm. It's a flare being shot into the sky, signaling for help. Photo by Khoa Võ from Pexels
It's something that you can change. In fact, it's a sign that something NEEDS to change.
Pain is your body's signal to change your course of action
When you put your hand near a flame, you pull away because your body says to change your course of action to prevent burning yourself.
When you hear a really loud noise that hurts your ears, you cover your ears because your body says to change your course of action to prevent hurting your eardrums.
Notice a theme yet?
You should...because depression is the same. It's a way for your body, mind, or spirit to tell you something is wrong and it's time to change your course of action. So all you have to do is choose to react and prevent further harm! You need to take action in order to change the direction that led to the depression in the first place. You can't continue the same way if it led you to feel the way you feel. So let's figure out how you can change the direction your going, together.
To begin with, know that depression affects different people in different ways. We are all experiencing life journeys and there are countless ways that we can get be affected. Some have illnesses that cause depression on a chemical and physical level, Some make bad choices that are difficult to heal from. Some find it hard to transition through emotional trauma. For every person, there's a different reason to feel depression, so give yourself credit for your unique life experiences.
Next, you need to make the choice to feel better. You need to give a name to what you are experiencing because once you can name the monster under your bed, you gain power over it.
Name the problem = admit you have depression
It can be so hard to just name it. Especially if this is your first time going through it. Know that you're one among many and there are people you can lean on, even if you haven't met them yet. If you can name it, then you've made a huge step forward because you've realized that depression is something happening to you and not simply who you are. When you name it, you seperate it as an entity apart from yourself. It becomes something outside of yourself that you can choose to set down and analyze.
When you analyze something, you realize that it has a shape, a size, a weight, etc. You realize that this thing before you has sides. It has a beginning and an end. Your job is to realize that your depression had a beginning as well. It had a cause, a trigger. You need to acknowledge what that beginning was because it's probably been haunting you for a while but your afraid to say it out loud. Now's the time and you need to. It's ok. You are not alone. Was it a loved one? What it unhealthy habits. Was it the loss of something? Take your time with this because the biggest hurdle of recovering from depression is just figuring out what started it. When you do come to that moment of realization, it's a REALLY big deal...so reward yourself. When I had that moment of realizing what's been holding me back the whole time...I took an hour drive at 3 o'clock in the morning to the beach, lit a candle and just friggn cried it out. (Probably wasn't the safest thing to do looking back, but I'm glad it worked.) When I was done crying, I drove home, went to bed, and slept hard. If your willing to, maybe even do something to remember what you realized. Make a little plaque for above your door, write in a journal, or dance it out in your living-room like a weirdo. Whatever helps lay that part of the hurdle down...do it.
Change your habits
Break the hamster wheel your on. Change direction. Make a choice, and do it. What many people fail to realize it that the physical and emotional way you feel is the result of your daily habits. Habits are choices you repeat so many times that they because unconscious. They become ingenuine and meaningless. They can even cause depression but they can also simply be what's preventing depression from ending. Again, it's different for everyone. So what are your habits? Try writing down everything you do in a typically day, but also, make a note of all the times you think hurtful and bad things. Write down how you feel in different times of your day so you can realize that your doing it in the first place. When you figure out when and how your feeling bad thoughts, INTERRUPT THEM! Make post-its of encouraging words and stick them on your bathroom mirror, your front door, your car steering wheel, your office computer. When you see those post-its...repeat them to yourself. Make it a habit to decide differently then your have been.
Reach out for help and healing
This part needs its own book. There's so much involved in taking this step. It can be easy for some and completely impossible for others. To start, there are SOO many forms of depression and so many ways it can be triggered. Some forms are incredibly harder to deal with than others. As a Massage Therapist, I've had the opportunity to listen to people's life experiences as I work on them and it's made me realize that unless you really walk in another's shoes, that there is so much to know about a person that you can never know simply passing them on the street. The great thing about the times we live in though, is that with so many people on the planet, there are countless forms of help for depression in all its forms. Some organizations struggle to keep up with demand while other organizations are seeking out more people to help with. There are many factors that can make getting help challenging such as insurance, out of pocket costs, distance, lack of community support or funding, or even worse...physical, emotional or mental oppression from people around you. Regardless, there's avenues to take. Even if it's only as far as reading guidance online.