Today, I want to download everything that have been rumbling within me in the last few years. I want to relieve myself of all the pain and heaviness that have engulfed me. I want to consolidate all the negative emotions that have stealthily yet steadily encroached my heart and eradicate them without any trace. I want to get rid of all the hate and hostility I have with myself. I want to become a new person by getting back to being the old me that was cheerful, confident and forward looking.
It took a very long time for me to direct my thoughts, words and feelings to my fingertips and bring them together in the form of this post. It was a huge struggle for my swinging mind to articulate and ratify the content and its crux. I have started, stopped and restarted this post several times and have somehow managed to drag myself to the finish line and push the ‘Publish’ button. It is a pretty lengthy post dear reader, but it is certainly worth your time. I have painstakingly gathered and meticulously packaged experiences from the lives of many women including myself, that have been fighting this hard to explain, yet frequently occurring sickness called ‘Depression’.
This depression has been nothing less than a cruel monster to me. It has drained my energy, emptied my enthusiasm and invaded my happiness. I’ve never imagined even in my wildest dreams that my original traits would drift far away from me, altering my overall outlook and basic composition. Within me, there is a general lack of interest towards everything and life feels overly unpleasant. I’m tired of feeling lonely in a world full of people, sick of being melancholic amidst a happy family and frustrated of being uncomfortable with my own self.
What I am these days is so not me and I’m scared if I’d completely forget the real person I used to be. This friendly, outgoing and fun loving person is seen as grumpy and quiet in the recent years. A plethora of very unpleasant feelings that are troubling me from the inside, seem to have given me a “grumpy” avatar on the outside. Sometimes I feel lonely and depressed, sometimes angry and aggravated, and sometimes timid and anxious. Many times, all these miserable feelings would decide to team up and knock me down completely. A big volcano of negative emotions keeps bubbling within me perennially and it often explodes into extreme silence, serious gripes, terrible tantrums or a flood of tears.
I try to constantly remind myself about the strong person I used to be. I have crossed many mountains of problems to get to where I am in my life today. Amidst fighting my own battles, I have extended my shoulders for others to cry on and have been their pillar of support. I have been a mentor for many in their personal and professional lives and there are still a few people that look up to me as their inspiration. It was my mental strength that made me look ahead every time I got stuck, propelled me forward and helped me cross my hurdles. Nothing wore me out. This depression however, has taken a toll on me, shaken my core and challenged me in every possible way.
The more I talk to women of my age (early to mid-forties) the more I come to realize that it is such a prevalent issue. The irony though is that, in this modern and educated world, the awareness level of people to help and provide support to the depressed is very low; I say this from my own experience. Depression is not a new topic, we keep hearing about it all the time, but how many of us have taken the effort to learn about it? How many of us know that people around us could be in depression? Even if we knew, do we know how to help them or at least not make it worse for them?
Depression is a nasty process that changes you almost entirely and we need constant support to resurrect ourselves and be the human we want to be. I’m still struggling to come out of depression but I have learned many things while suffering. I have been working on helping myself get to a better place and I thought writing about it could help others also that are sailing on the same boat. In my opinion, just some awareness and basic knowledge about this disorder can go a long way in helping yourself and others combat this sickness. I’m not a medical professional or a psychologist even remotely; this post is just a layman’s view of the ailment as a victim. Please take time to read.
It is unfortunate that you are going through this miserable phase, but hang in there my friend; there is light at the end of the tunnel. This is the hope I keep giving myself every single day. Knowing that you are depressed is the first big step. It took a long time for me to realize what was going on with me. Now that you are there, here’s some guidance on how you can make life better for yourself and others.
You are not alone and this too shall pass
Do you keep questioning the purpose of life? Do you think no one understands or cares for you? Does it feel like you are drowning in an ocean of never ending sadness? Does happiness seem like a treasure you’ve lost for good? Trust me dear friend, you are not alone and it is certainly not the end of the world.
You may find it hard to believe, but there are more people out there fighting some form of depression than you can possibly imagine. Although it feels very sad to learn this fact, it does give you some comfort to realize that you are not a lone fighter. For all you know, their experience could be much more complicated and intense than yours.
Life will get better, be assured. Bring out that beautiful smile on your face and pat yourself on the back, for you’ve been brave and have endured a treacherous journey thus far. Grab this big ray of hope I’m giving you (and myself), cling on to it and develop the faith that this will all be over. Yes, without a doubt, this too shall pass. It is just a matter of time.
Try to figure out why
Depression appears to stem from many causes. Hormonal changes, lack of vital nutrients, side effects of medicines, other health issues and trying times in life are some common causes – I have had every single one of these. When you realize that you are not yourself and your state of mind continues to bother you, reach out to your doctor for help without any hesitation. They are the best people to assess the nature and magnitude of your problem and point you to the road to recovery. Sometimes you may require just a very small fix like being on supplements to handle the nutrient deficiencies. My doctor prescribed me an antidepressant and recommended to consult behavioral health specialists. I’m very paranoid of antidepressants, for their side effects, and I decided to look for alternative healing routes (getting spiritual etc.). However, I am taking help from behavioral health specialists periodically.
Choose your shoulders to cry on, albeit carefully
Depression manifests itself differently in different people. Hence, the ways in which they find comfort could also vary. Nevertheless, having someone to open up and talk to appears to be a common solace that most of us tend to seek. Many a times all that you need is someone that is patient to listen to you. You need someone that is mature to not make any judgments from your vents, empathetic to understand your struggle and most importantly trustworthy to keep your conversations confidential. The nature of the disorder may make you pour your heart out to anyone that appears to offer comfort. Please choose your sponge carefully, the source of support you are relying on must not become a new dimension of stress for you.
Given your state of mind, it is hard to assess and cherry pick your shoulders to cry on, but unfortunately it is very critical. This is where good friends can come to your rescue. You can talk with them heart to heart and their intention typically is to see you be happy. They are almost always genuine, unbiased and unconditional. I’m blessed to have a bunch of such good friends in my life. If you are not sure or comfortable to reach out to friends for help, do not hesitate to contact behavioral therapists or counselors. They are trained professionals and great listeners. You can trust them for confidentiality as well. The disclaimer though is, you must do your homework to land in truly helpful hands. Have your loved ones do the research if the task appears too daunting for you. Your doctor can provide references as well.
Make people understand that you need help
Depression is a very complex problem and it is quite hard for others to relate to it unless they’ve experienced it themselves. We need no time or education to understand most physical health issues, but sadly, people find it hard to get mental health issues even after detailed explanations. You must help others help you; I’ve learned this the hard way. I know at times, it is hard, even for yourself, to figure out what could help you. But, when you do, make it clear and speak it out!
Make people aware of your triggers and request them to be sensitive of that. Don’t be shy and do not hesitate. If you don’t respect your own needs, who else will? If you don’t like to cook or clean, don’t want any visitors or want some quiet time – just say it out, loud and clear. The heart wrenching thing though is, some people are way too careless or ignorant to process any of these. Shame on them, but it is the reality. Expect it, accept it, ignore it and keep moving on.
Don’t be hard on yourself
Your house is a mess, you dropped a few balls here and there, your back burners are running out of space, and these make you feel terribly out of place. Isn’t this an everyday story? I get it, it is hard and I’ve been there. Well, I’m still there, actually. Learn to chill it out and give yourself a break. These are trivial things considering the trauma you are dealing with. So, take deep breaths often, don’t fret and beat yourself up. Realize that you are constrained, your capacity is limited and your space is crunched. Right now, you are your utmost priority, everything else can be picked up later or by someone else. It is easier said than done, but you must let go of certain things.
Make a list of things that absolutely needs your attention, prioritize and tackle them one at a time. Watch for patterns in your energy levels and mood. Some days can be better than others and the variations can be felt by the hour too. I wake up feeling agitated and anxious almost every day but it settles down gradually as the day progresses. There have been phases when I’ve felt miserable 24×7, let’s not even talk about it. The point is, when you feel capable, even if it is just for a few hours, choose an appropriate item from your list and do the best you can with it. Do not aim at perfection, just shoot for the minimum viable outcome. When you knock it off, give yourself credit for the accomplishment. Small achievements matter and they go a long way in building your confidence.
Depression is real, depression is rough and depression is ruthless. But, you can knock it down for sure, if you work on it. Please help yourself and please help others. If you think this post is helpful, please leave a comment, make your family read it and share it with as many people as you can. There’s probably someone looking for help, right now.
I’ve really spoken my heart out here guys, hope you found it valuable. My thoughts and recommendations are limited to my experiences and they may not be suitable for everyone. Please use them at your discretion. There’s a lot more for me to share on this topic, but I think I must set the rest aside for another post. I do have some strong guidance for friends and families to provide care and support to the depressed. I will make sure to bring that out as well pretty soon. It is a much needed and equally important topic.
Appreciate your taking time to read, thank you!