There is such a stigma associated with depression or any type of mental health issue. I’m always wary about talking about my depression because I almost feel ashamed of myself. For some reason I feel like it’s my fault I feel this way. But I know better.
In an effort to learn to love myself and be okay with the person I’ve become, I’m going to be honest with myself and embrace everything that makes me me. Yes, I have major depressive disorder. I’m pretty sure I’ve had it since I was 15, but I wasn’t clinically diagnosed until I was 23. I had always made excuses for it, thinking it was me being a teenager or me just being too weak and lazy to deal with life. But it got to be too much and I finally got help for it.
I’ve had therapy, take medication, and just learned how to live with it. I hope one day to become strong enough to overcome it. I know a big part of this will be to develop the courage to live the life I want.
I also believe that what I choose to put into my body has an effect on my mental health, which is one of the reasons why I’m working on becoming healthier person. I believe a good healthy diet can be a great antidepressant.
I don’t know if my depression is something that will ever completely go away. The brain is still such a mystery and there’s still so much we don’t know.
Over the years, I’ve learned how to manage my depression using various tips. There are still tough days where I just want to stay in bed and can’t muster up any energy to do anything productive. But I’ve realized there are things I can do to make the impact of it not so intense.
- Feel through your emotions. I realize that sometimes I try to suppress my emotions because I never learned how to deal with pain in a normal way. But I eventually learned that it’s okay to feel pain and it’s a totally normal part of life. It’s also okay to not be happy all the time. You can feel whatever way you want. We all need to learn how to manage our feelings in a normal, non-destructive way.
- Change your perspective. Sometimes a shocking eye opener can really kick me out of my funk. Things could always be so much worse. That isn’t to minimize your depression, but sometimes the distraction can help. It may also give you the push you need to do something productive.
- Watch an inspiring documentary. Watching other people overcome hardships is always a mood lifter for me. One of my favorite documentaries is Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead. There was an extremely overweight trucker with an autoimmune condition who overcame all odds; the lifestyle changes he made caused his disease to go into remission. Inspiring stuff.
- Run or lift. I know that when you’re in an especially depressed state, exercise is the absolute last thing you want to do. But if you are able to get over the hump and get some blood pumping, the short distraction can be helpful. And if you go at it hard enough to get the endorphins to kick in, then more power to you! I always feel better after a work out, if I can just get myself to go!
- Take a mental health day. Depression is an actual medical condition. Sick days are abused, but if you can barely crawl out of bed, it might be a good idea to take a day for your mental state. Go back to work when you can be productive.
- Write it out. Journaling (or blogging) is a great outlet if that’s your thing. It can be very therapeutic.
- Embrace your creative side. One of my hobbies is painting. If I’m in a mood, it feels good to touch a brush to paper and just let go. I also like to enjoy a glass of wine while I’m at it.
- Use visualization techniques. I first learned about this after reading The Secret. It actually does help. If you visualize what you want to happen, it can have a very positive effect on your mental state.
- Don’t be hard on yourself. It seems that whenever I’m depressed, I seem to be the meanest to myself. But its crucial to be kindest to yourself at this point. Comfort yourself as if you were comforting your best friend.
- Be grateful. Even if you feel shitty, just tell yourself what you are thankful for in your life. Just repeat it over and over.
- Get outside. Sometimes just seeing the beauty of nature can help soften the rough edges of life. It’s also good for you to get some vitamin D. I like to take a walk in a quiet neighborhood and look at houses to see what I like and don’t like. It’s actually very calming and kind of fun.
- Eat healthy. I do notice that when I’m eating refined carbs and processed food, I am more likely to have episodes. As opposed to when I eat healthy, my mood tends to be more stable.
- Get out of your comfort zone. One of my issues is that it’s really hard for me to want to do anything. My interest level is just nonexistent. But if I make myself do it anyway, often times I’m glad I did it. Plus it’s always great to experience new things and make new memories.
- Laugh your ass off. You ever feel so depressed that you think the feeling will never go away? That is until you see a really funny or cute video on FB or YouTube, and you just burst out laughing? I dare you not to laugh! Those are the best laughs, when you least expect to.
- Just remember, no matter how you feel, it will pass. I try to remember that whenever I’m feeling particularly horrible – it’s never a permanent thing and if I just wait it out, it will get better.
I have been clinically diagnosed with major depressive disorder and manage it everyday using the above tips. I am not a licensed mental health professional. I am only sharing the things that have helped me, and maybe will help others. But I realize what works for me does not work for everyone.