When I was 15, I was diagnosed with depression.
The combination of parental divorce and puberty really did a number on my brain chemistry and self-esteem. You can read more about my story with depression here.
Now I’m 27, and I still have depression.
However, over the years I’ve learned more than a few tough lessons from depression that I’d like to share with you.
The road to recovery is hard, but I don’t have to tell you this. You know what it’s like.
All we can do is learn from our experiences and hope we take our own advice.
That’s why I’ve compiled this list!
Hopefully, you can learn from my experiences as well.
In the comments, let me know what you’ve learned from your experience with depression and mental illness.
Persevere, But Listen to Yourself
When you have depression, life can seem completely hopeless.
It can feel like you can’t do it, or like you can’t handle life or exist in the world like a normal damn human being.
It can be frustrating, I know, but trust me when I say that you can. Just try for one more minute, one more hour, one more day. Sometimes you have to push yourself past where you think you can go, but once you get there, you’ve gone a little further than before.
Congratulations, you got a new high score!
Pushing yourself just a little bit further every day is important, but everyone still has limits. You’ll know when you hit them.
Listen to yourself and give yourself a break, and then try again tomorrow.
Take Your Meds
If you and your doctor have thoroughly discussed medication and decided that it is right for you, then
MAKE. SURE. YOU. TAKE. IT.
Especially once your brain gets used to it.
Medication is designed to reconfigure and optimize the mood chemicals in your brain so stopping it can be like someone kicking your crutches out from underneath you: you’ll go tumbling down and hurt yourself even more.
Trust me, I know from experience.
So just take them, okay? Give them a couple of months to work.
If you’re opposed to medication then do your own research and find a doctor who listens to you. I promise the Doc and the meds only want to help, so let them.
You don’t realize how cathartic it can be to talk about things until you actually do.
I recently started seeing my therapist again and after I left that first session I felt a huge weight lifted off of me. Even if you just treat your journal as your therapist it can be extremely beneficial to get the thoughts out instead of having them rattling around all willy-nilly in your skull cavity.
Therapists act as an unbiased sounding board who you can talk to without fear of judgement.
Chances are they’ve talked to and helped lots of other people like you, so most of the time you can trust their professional opinion and get a little perspective on what’s going on in your life – and your brain.
Be Nice To Yourself
Look, your brain is doing the best it can with what it’s got, okay?
You’re not broken.
Your friends and family still love you.
You’re not worthless.
I know that the throes of a depressive episode is the last time you would think to be nice to yourself, but it’s the time you need it most.
Take a moment to think of at least one thing that you like about yourself. I have fun heart-shaped sticky notes that I write affirmations or good experiences on and stick them to the wall near my computer where I will see it every day.
I know it’s hard but just try.
It’s worth it.
You’re worth it.
Put your biggest lessons in the comments or tag #rainydayoptimist on Twitter and Instagram.