Battling depression

So I beat depression a few years back. Sure, I have my downs now and then for a few days to a few weeks at a time but overall I am now happy and very positive. I became at around 16, after having the best year of my life until my 20s. It creeps up on you, that’s the scary thing. If you could just see it coming you could prepare better, you could see where you were before to get a better idea of where you want to be now.

This post is being written for a few reasons, for one it’s a topic I know personally which helps me in my beginnings of writing. It will also help me when those ‘downs’ come back and more importantly with that, it will hopefully help people going through what I went through for 6 long years.

Firstly, for those suffering what I suffered, know that you are not alone. When our brain is in this state it does crazy things. Your brain, when the depression is deep enough, craves the path of least resistance. It will tell you this is a disease with no cure but ‘time’. Your very own brain will convince you that your problem is unique, there is no answer, there is no help. Your brain, in this state, lacks hope. Hope is important, hopes keeps us alive, hope drives us to further ourselves in any endeavor, so please do not give up hope. Never. Do not give up. Knowing what I know now I could have saved some of the years that were taken by this awful disease. Don’t get me wrong though, hope won’t cure you. Hoping tomorrow will be better than today won’t cure you by itself.

Hope makes happiness possible. That is the goal, right? That is everyone’s reason for being, to be happy most days. As I mentioned, depression is sneaky. Depression is like an opportunistic virus, it waits, it festers in anticipation for the moment your guard is down. It’s there waiting in the shadows, gathering more and more influence on your thoughts when things get you down, when stress is building. It is strange to think this is your own body’s reaction, bringing you down for an indefinite amount of time in such  cunning and ruthless manners.

Just like a cure is not truly known, neither is the root cause. However, depression is given the bulk of its strength through a variety of influences. Diet, prolonged stress, sleeping habits, diminished self-confidence and self-image and more. Depression would not appear with just one of these, it requires a collaboration of these influences.
Now before I go any further I need to confess that I did not use any anti-depressants or any other form of medication and so I cannot comment on the pros and cons of them. I only hope the advice and suggestions I make can help all people battling this in some way no matter what the severity.

Your brain will tell you that the cure is ‘time’. Just wallow in it for now, eventually things will get better. This isn’t entirely a lie. Ultimately time is the answer to depression, making your duty to minimize the time required to become happy again. There are many things that influence the condition, it’s not possible to find an accurate how-to guide to improve everything required to reduce the time taken for you to get better. The biggest step is to start gauging yourself whether every day, every few days or week by week. It is important when determining what directly influences your depression. For me, fitness was a major issue. I was a very energetic child and teenager until a bad chest infection left me bed ridden for about a month. That was around the start of my depression.

Of course, the nature of this condition diminishes motivation to be active and it deteriorated my fitness to the point that at around 18-19 years old my calves began to swell after a few minutes walking up the smallest of inclines. It is easy to see now how obvious lack of fitness can promote a baseline mood of apathy, but like I said, depression is sneaky and cunning. My depression’s effort to remain unnoticed was aided as I was turning 17 when I was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes. Suddenly my poor mood, energy levels and overall melancholy could be explained away if not for the utter disinterest I felt when having my life permanently altered. I was kicked out of college over this break, having missed too much class in the previous month. Finally, I had no need to go out every day. I only needed to concentrating on adjusting to my new life as a diabetic.

The other major component to my depression was my withdrawal from my social circles. This also happened when I had that bad chest infection, it was during a 6-week summer break. I spent the last 5 weeks in my room. I got into playing games, my lifelong sleeping troubles developed into a minor insomnia where I was sleeping in the early morning and awake all night. The conditions for an awaiting depression was complete. I was isolated, feeling content living in my own world during the night, I was losing stamina and energy, I was coming off a great time year and wondering what was happening to me. I was alone, I was being overcome.

My fight to be content and happy was a long one and began with my local GP. I was seeing her most weeks about this issue and that. “You sound a lot like you are depressed” began what lead to this post. She referred my to a psychologist who gave me the advice I needed. After my doctor, without direction from me, gave me another “you sound like you might be diabetic” I stopped my frequent visits. I saw my psychologist just a few times but she made an impact.
‘Step by step improvements’
‘Do the things you would normally do if you were happy, you will remember how to enjoy them again’

These are words I will remember forever and I wish that you apply them yourself as I cannot overstate that I would not be who I am right now without them. I never thanked my doctor or psychologist for everything they did, which they did with the utmost compassion and desire to actually help me but I will be grateful until the end of my days.
Now I am here for anyone in the same boat. I will be glad to answer any questions and help in any way I can, but right now my advice is:

  1.  Keep track of how you feel at regular intervals, this will help see what is helping or hurting. More importantly, seeing a trend of improving mood is an unbelievable motivator and one I wish I used years earlier.
  2. Keep at improving, baby steps add up to a hell of a lot over the weeks and months. Never stop moving forward regardless of whether you feel it’s a big enough improvement or not.
  3.  Read. Read every day. Read “The Power of Now”, this gave me the relaxed attitude I have now. I related to the author and took his advice and I live the reward every day. Read self-help to improve and motivate you every day, read fiction to improve your mood. Read.
  4. Never be ashamed. Never. You are who you are because of the sum of all your experiences and all the influences from your particular biology. Be proud of yourself, ask for help, Tell people you’re low so they can help pick you up. You’re not bothering anyone and if you are, they’re not worth suffering in silence for.
  5. Remind yourself every day that you will get better. There is light at the end of the tunnel, no doubt. Then go about making that light shine sooner rather than later.

 

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