Have you ever experienced a time in life when nothing seems worthy of your energy, that you’re just contemplating on your existence as immense yourself in complete darkness?
Certainly I hope you have never been in such an ominous state of mind. However, it is safe to say that we’ve all experienced different degrees of sadness and for some of us, depression even.
I was diagnosed with depression when I was 13. (F.Y.I. there are many types of depression actually, which if you’re interested, here’s a link for some fairly educational information on the related terminologies : https://www.adaa.org/understanding-anxiety/depression ) Surely I’d agree that it is quite unfortunate that such a thing could happen to a person of that age, however, in hindsight it meant that I was able to adjust my perspective on life in general and also be able to let the experience change me in the way I want it to for the better. Quoting my psychologist Lee – “Your feelings should be valid simply because you are human.” (If you’re not, you’re a cyborg and that is the coolest – just saying) It shouldn’t be about age or gender or anything for that matter.
So why am I writing this personal cheesy opinion piece?
Well recently, a close friend of mine has been deliberately asking me questions about feeling depressed and how I got help / helped myself. It worried me so I texted her a list of strategies I used to fight the monstrous thing within myself so I thought I should share it here as well, in order to help any of you out there who it may benefit.
Depression is a prolonged situation in which one feels utterly unmotivated, unenergised and helpless. It was like slowly drowning in a huge ultramarine-coloured pool, in which you are consciously aware of your lungs gradually filling up with water… yet you’re not trying to get out at all, you’re not flapping your arms to get out of the water. You’re just extremely calm and still, with your eyes wide open, staring at the glistening surface of the water that’s swallowing you up piece by piece. Being the delusional child with “romantic readiness” that I once was, I started doing research, as well as going to see a psychologist. I stopped feeling like that as soon as I had decided to help myself, and also because my beloved literature teacher showed us one of Sylvia Plath’s poems (Crossing the Water) and so I was frightened but also determined – out of narcissism perhaps, that I did not want to live like she did for the rest of my potentially glorious teenage years.
The following is a list of things that I did, steps that I took under the instructions of a paid psychologist and a paid therapist, which now you get for free! These acted as armour and equipped me to be able to win the battle after somehow breathing under water for 18 months. Coming out of it my mom commented that I ‘appear’ to be more compassionate, understanding and much stronger… (and I do agree that I wasn’t the nicest kid that you’d meet before that, so thank you Depression!)
Side-note : One does not have to be depressed to do these things, they can make anyone more positive (and happy) really.
Some of these are physical actions, and some are exercises for the mind. Let’s start with the easy bits that don’t require an ounce of determination! Meaning that there’s actually no reason for you to have to go through the process of convincing yourself that you want to get better; there is no excuse for you to not get out of your ‘comfortable’ resting place because all you need to do is just get up go.
- Grab a pen and write about something that you’re grateful for today. The trick here is to find things that are just there, instead of digging around thinking if you have received any enormous act of kindness today. It could be as simple as having the internet, receiving a snap from a new friend, or finding a picture that you’d consider as “tumblr”. This is a form of “mindfulness”. The best way I can explain what that is and how it helps with depression is that it is being mindful, deliberately noticing things around you and acknowledging as well as addressing your feelings. By practising mindfulness, you’ll slowly get into this positive mindset in which you can easily find things that make you happy without noticing that you’re trying!
P.S. This site can probably explain it in a more informative way…
P.P.S. Did you really think that you have to write it? You can say it out loud, type it up, pray about it…you do you.
- Following up on “mindfulness”, the second, more physical exercise you can do is to get up and go outside for a breath of fresh air. Depression is something that I would describe as a monster within yourself that is making you self deprecate and everything seem disastrous. It is hard to get those thoughts out of your head when you’re just lying there (in the pool as it were) and imagining things and situations going much worse than they can possibly go. Just simply dragging myself out of the door and looking around me, deliberately noticing random, simple things like colours and shapes of things helped a great deal on my worst days.
- Treat yourself!
There are days when I look around me and see all these beautiful people working so hard that makes me wonder how they manage their time and their social life and their well-being…
Basically, just take care of yourself and treat yourself right. You’re worth that coffee and that 2 hours to watch a movie (or bake-off on Wednesdays, as most of my new friends would suggest.) Take time to do things that you like!
Moving on to the more cognitive things you can do…
There’s cognitive behavioural therapy.
Here’s my attempt at summarising its function : CBT involves one acknowledging one’s worries and thoughts and analysing it, followed by examining the degree of threat and danger of the situation in your head, and perhaps ending by attacking your negative thoughts by logical reasoning. So let’s say you’re worried about an upcoming test. Why are you worried? Perhaps you’re unprepared? Knowledge wise or…? Basically you identify the problems and ask yourself what can you do to ease your worries? Maybe you can go open your book and do what you can for now instead of spending time imagining the worst case scenario? Maybe you could find help? What are the steps you can take to make yourself feel a little more prepared? Also, most importantly, who said that you are going to fail anyway? Is there any evidentiary support?
Obviously there are so much more that you can do if you’re determined…or even if you’re not and that you’re just ruminating whether you should start trying, there are things that you can do by yourself and for yourself against the monster within yourself.
Sorry for the mouth-full / page-full of information.
Have a great one!
P.S. There are also some (safe) apps that you can use to express your worries and feelings as well as to gain energy and positivity!
Here are only some suggestions :
7 Cups of Tea
This is an online platform/app on which anonymous users can chat with people from all professions, age groups and genders. It allows users to choose from a wide range of mental issues that someone may be dealing with. The “counsellors” are rated by their counselling quality. Personally, I have never gotten around to use it, but I’ve heard great things about it (particularly how you are just able to talk to someone without being judged) from friends.
Try this app in which you can pick up to 5 feelings to describe your present state of mind. A suggested list of meditations you can do (with their recorded instructor) and their benefits. You also get stickers…if you refuse to grow up like me and you care about stickers.