Although I’m sure my friends and family don’t consider me someone who’s “depressed,” “anxious,” or “afraid,” the truth is that it’s something I’ve dealt with for my entire life. Living the life you want, going after your dreams, achieving your goals, and sometimes just getting up in the morning to live another day can feel like an uphill battle. In the past, I tried to bottle up my emotions and not deal with them at all. That backfired something fierce in the form of stress, health issues, and emotional outbursts that felt like they were out of my control. It’s not something I really like to talk about, to be honest, as I prefer to spread happiness and joy, but I thought that if I could share some of my experiences with this, then maybe it could help one of you guys out. At the very least, I hope this helps you guys to know that you’re not alone in this. Sometimes, if I’m feeling particularly crappy and I can’t get myself out of the funk, that thought alone is like a comfort in the darkness.
My Experience with Depression
Depression is something that felt a lot like it crept up on me in a terrifying way. Although I’m sure I didn’t just wake up one day with depression, it certainly felt like that. Contrary to all the crying girls on YouTube who claim to deal with depression, it’s a lot less tearful than you might think. In fact, based on my own experience and the experience of others I’ve talked to about this, depression feels a lot more like a dead sort of hopelessness. You feel unhappy, hopeless, and anxious and you may not even know why. I sometimes felt like I had no idea why I was so sad. I would cry, at times, and not know why I was so upset. I felt anxiety like a physical pain and I didn’t know why. The truth is that it takes a long time to really look at yourself, your life, and figure out where the hurt and sadness is stemming from. Sometimes, it’s a death that hits you particularly hard. Other times, it’s a major life change, or a literal chemical imbalance in your brain that’s causing it. For me, it’s been purely mental and after taking a good hard look at myself and examining what made me happy and unhappy, I’ve been able to figure out what things cause my depression to deal with it. It stemmed from my, largely, absent father, a chaotic and traumatic childhood, and various other issues that came up. With a lot of hard work and focus, I’ve come out of the dark place I was in for several years and I have found a number of things to be instrumental in helping me recover whenever I feel my mind slipping back there.
Tips to Fight Back:
- Write down the things that make you happy. I take time to make lists of things I’m grateful for every single day. Sometimes, it’s just my dog and the cup of coffee I had. Other times, it’s the fact that I’m alive, ate healthy that day, or that the day is almost over (almost time for Netflix!). Maybe something really good happened and you forgot about it. You can also make lists of the big things that make you happy. For me, those things are acting, singing, inspiring movies, writing, good food, my friends, laughter, my dog, and sleep! It can be as simple or as complicated as you like and you may find that, as you go along, you discover things about yourself that you didn’t notice before.
- Eat healthy and get in some physical activity. Did you know that unhealthy foods, sugary drinks and other processed foods can aggravate the symptoms of depression? Eating certain foods can help boost your mood and getting in physical activity is a great way to boost your mood even if it’s as simple as taking a brisk walk with a friend.
- Try inspirational quotes and vision boards. If I’m having a crap day, inspirational quotes can really change the tone of my thoughts and turn things around. I like to keep a cache of really good ones on my phone and on pinterest. Something I also really enjoy doing is creating vision boards. All you need is a cork board and a color printer. You can also purchase magazines and cut images out of them that inspire you, make you happy or move you. You can post images that represent your goals as well. I keep my vision board right across from my bed so it’s the first thing I look at every morning, but you can put it wherever you go often: the bathroom, kitchen or living room would be good too!
- Talk to someone you trust about it. Whenever I was in a depressive mood, I found myself isolating myself in my thoughts. I was the only one who had ever been depressed, nobody knew how I felt, and so on. The truth is that I couldn’t have been more wrong. I spoke to my boyfriend about my depression and other issues and I was surprised to find I wasn’t the only one. I think we all deal with depression to some degree at some point or another in our lives. Find someone you’re close to that you trust enough to confide in and spill! Let them know how you feel and ask for support. If you need extra support, talk to your doctor or schedule a consultation with a therapist. In this modern era, they even have online consultations with therapists where you can live chat with them! They will help you right then and there and give you professional advice.
- Get outside! Get by some trees, go for a walk with your dog or a friend (or both!), and just breathe in the fresh air. We get so stuck to our computers, TV’s and phones that we forget there’s a big wide world out there. And it’s a beautiful place if you know how to open your eyes and appreciate the little things. The beautiful leaves changing colors, the nice cool breeze, or the colors blending into a sunset. The sun is brilliant for giving your body some vitamin D which is the best natural treatment for depression out there! Getting some fresh air is also a great way to fight anxiety, stress and just make yourself feel better.
- Don’t give up, okay? At the end of the day, I know it’s hard. It can feel like you’re digging yourself out of a hole that just keeps caving in over and over again, but I want you to know there is light at the end of the tunnel for you. Because YOU ARE BEAUTIFUL. You are worthy and deserving of love, happiness, laughter, and a wonderful life that’s better than you can imagine. Stick it out and you will be glad you did.