What I’ve learned from living with depression

Saint Anna Lake Romania

This past Saturday I had the opportunity to attend the Strong Inside Out Tour fitness class hosted by my friend Amy Clover. She’s been going to various cities around the country over the course of the past few months to spread awareness for depression and suicide for the suicide prevention charity To Write Love On Her Arms.

If you don’t know about Amy, you should check out her story as it is a very inspiring one. Amy uses fitness as a way to help people heal from depression by becoming strong from the inside out. Her fitness class is filled with so much passion and energy that it’s impossible to walk away from it not feeling mentally stronger than you thought you were.

She pushes you through an intense HIIT workout to make you realize that you can go beyond the limits you thought you had. In doing so, you realize that if you can do this then you can overcome any feelings of depression and hopelessness you might have.

It’s almost always the case that we are stronger than we realize. I didn’t realize how strong I was until I had to overcome being bullied. It’s during trying times that we come to discover what we are really made of.

I've had my struggle with depression since the bullying and it’s been during those dark times that I've come to know my strength. Depression has also taught me some lessons that I want to share with you in this post.

Maybe you’ve come to realize some of these on your own, but I find they are always good reminders to have. So here are some of the biggest lessons that living with depression has taught me.

It Won’t Last Forever

It might seem like it will always be this way, but it won’t. I can’t tell you how long it will last, but I know that if you keep fighting, you can make it through. Even if you feel helpless and hopeless and the challenge seems insurmountable, there is always hope.

You have to take things one day at a time, or one hour at a time, or maybe even one moment at a time. However you have to break it down doesn’t matter. The way to accomplish any big goal is to break it down into smaller goals along the way. Eventually you’ll reach the end goal.

Of course if you just try to tackle the whole thing at once it will seem impossible. You have to make it so that you can manage the challenge rather than the challenge managing you.

There Will Be Setbacks

There just will be setbacks for most of us. The key is to take more steps forward than we take back and to realize that a setback isn’t the end of the world. I’ve had more setbacks than I can count, but I’ve learned to not let them get the best of me.

At first I would get mad at myself for having a setback. It was as if I had failed. I used to think that in order to overcome depression I had to be perfectly happy for the rest of my life. We’re all going to have bad days. Things will happen that will be out of our control and we will react negatively.

The important thing is to not let a setback undo any progress you’ve made. And to realize that a bad day doesn't have to mean a bad month or a bad year.

When you have a setback, go easy on yourself. Accept it for what it is and use what you've already learned to move past it.

It’s Okay To Talk About It

As much as we’ve progressed as a society in regard to mental illness there’s still a stigma surrounding it, especially depression. This makes someone with depression feel like they have to hide it and deal with it on their own. This is so wrong because, when you’re depressed, you need all of the support you can get.

Not only is it okay to talk about it, but it’s even necessary to do so. Keeping it bottled up inside isn’t going to make it go away. Sometimes talking to a friend or family member is enough and other times you’ll need to talk to a professional about it.

If the person you choose to talk to about it cares enough about you then they will be willing to help. If they are not willing to help then go to someone else. You will find someone who can offer support. It’s okay to talk about it because those who care will want you to.

We have to give people a chance to help. Consider if the roles were reversed. I’m sure you’d want the opportunity to help someone you care about if you knew they were struggling so much.

We Have The Ability To Help Ourselves

The first time I dealt with depression I didn’t know what I could do for myself. It felt as if something broke down inside of me and there was no instruction manual I could turn to for the solution. Eventually I realized that this wasn’t a self-help job; I needed a professional.

Whether it’s a chemical imbalance in our brain or an event that has triggered it, sometimes you need medication to get it under control.

Once you get any professional help you may need, you’ll start to learn about things you can do to help yourself. It becomes empowering to know that there are steps you can take the next time you feel this way so that you don’t have to only rely on another person or a drug. Of course I’m not saying that these things are bad, I’m just saying that it’s nice to know you have the ability to help yourself.

Don’t underestimate the ability of the little things to make a big difference. Figure out what makes you feel better and remind yourself of these things whenever you’re feeling down. This can be easier said than done because it can be difficult to find the motivation to do anything when you’re depressed.

Doing one small thing, though, can set off a chain reaction. All you have to do is find the strength to do one thing and then it’ll be easier to do the next, and then you’ll realize that you are starting to feel better.

We Are Not Alone

It was reported in 2012 that an estimated 16 million adults aged 18 or older in the U.S. had at least one major depressive episode in the year prior. No matter how alone you may feel in your darkest hours, there is always someone else out there going through the same thing. More than that, there is always someone out there who is willing to help.

You don’t even have to wait until you are feeling desperate in order to reach out. The best thing is to tell someone as soon as you are feeling down. Then they will do what they can to help you from getting really depressed.

Reaching out to others can be one of the hardest things to do when you're feeling depressed. This is when you have to push yourself a little to do it anyway. If you can just do that then you will realize that help is a lot closer than you think.

Final Thoughts

Depression is a terrible thing because it leaves us paralyzed in a way. It can make us hopeless and helpless and numb to our feelings. It can make us want to lock ourselves in our homes and hide under the covers. It can become practically impossible to do anything. The smallest task can drain you of all your energy. It can feel like a one ton weight has fallen on you and you can't get out from under it.

We all experience feeling down and sad at different times in our lives, but it's when you get this way and can't seem to overcome it that can cause serious problems. Depression is a battle and, unfortunately, some people lose the battle. It doesn't have to be this way though.

We don’t have to lose our lives to depression. We are stronger than we realize. This post is for all those who have lost the battle as well as those fighting it right now. Hang in there because you can win it if you keep fighting.

Have you dealt with depression? What's something that it has taught you? Feel free to share in the comments below.  
Also, if you know someone who is struggling with depression then share this with them using the links below.
A note about comments: Given the nature of this site, anyone being disrespectful to anyone else will have their comment removed.

photo credit: 'Ajnagraphy' via photopin cc

 

Comments

  1. Hi, I love your post. It is very uplifting. I totally agree, we don’t have to lose ourselves to depression, we can handle it and manage to move forward. This is really great. Thanks for sharing.

  2. Great post once again Melissa. How awesome that you got to meet Amy Clover and attend her Strong Inside Out Tour, that’s great! Amy was at Chris Guillebeau’s WDS a few years ago and her message on stage was excellent and one I haven’t forgotten. So great to see everything she’s doing and that you’re doing to help make a difference. You mentioned “the way to accomplish any big goal is to break it down into smaller goals along the way”, so very true.

    • Thanks Mike. I always appreciate the support. That’s great that you know about Amy. We actually got introduced to each other last year online by a mutual friend and then got to meet at the New Media Expo back in January. I definitely support the message she is trying to spread. You know, I’ve always tried to tackle big goals without breaking them down but now I realize that there is a much better way to go about it. 🙂

  3. Hello Melissa.

    Great write up and website. I came across your blog in the fb group Live Your Legend with Scott Dinsmore.

    You’ll love my business website: http://anewlifeoasis.com/category/biblical-life-coach/mindset [a list of posts about mindset. bullying being included]

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