Recovering from depression is one of the most challenging mental conditions and trying experiences for a person to overcome. It can often be challenging to tell where negative emotions are coming from, and many people find themselves unable to be mindful when they are at their lowest. Each day can feel like a real slog when you are in this position, making it feel just about impossible to make a positive change. While it will always take baby steps, though, I’m hopeful that anyone has the power to overcome depression; you need to take positive, forward-motion steps. I would be remiss to say, too, that I’m not talking about diagnosed clinical depression, which is chronic and often requires ongoing professional support.
Of course, it would be wrong to say that the same methods will apply to everyone as well, but it is worth keeping these ideas in mind when you embark on your own journey to recovery. I personally have had bouts of depression myself. After having my second child, post-partum depression came out of nowhere and took me by surprise. After my third child, it was even worse, which resulted in me seeking help. Which only resulted in being prescribed a medication that I ultimately quit on my own. And, there were zero follow-ups from the doctor when I didn’t refill the prescription either. I understand that there’s only one of them and doctors have many patients. Though, I think that the “pill-dispensary” mentality, without any other support, isn’t doing society any favors. I do think looking at the whole person, not just their mental state of mind but also their emotional is just as, if not more, important. Because rarely do doctors ask: “What has happened to you in your life?” The cure-all, end-all, be-all is not always medication, and yet, that’s the anecdote for millions of people who, with mild depression, could take steps on their own to improve their mental frame of mind.
The question I would ask myself if I were to experience another bout of depression again would be: “What is happening in my life that is causing me to feel this way?”
Recovering from Depression
It’s never easy to figure out the source of something like depression. It is unlikely that a single aspect in your life is triggering negative emotions; negative emotions tend to compound. For example, you may get up feeling great in the morning, but missing your bus to work will send you into an unhappy spiral. If the next person you talk to is rude to you, this will amplify your negative emotions, sending you deeper into a depressive state. Once in this position, mindfulness is just about the only tool that can get you out of it.
Being mindful means that you are aware of your emotions and the things that trigger them. For example, if you miss the bus, you will feel bad because you will be late for work and be worried about the consequences. In reality, though, this sort of issue never lasts more than a few hours, and it’s not worthy of making you feel bad. You can read more about mindfulness online, and it’s well worth learning some methods that will help you ground yourself when you feel bad.
Making Small Positive Changes
It can be all too easy to blame certain aspects of your life for something like depression. It’s not helpful to push people to make big changes in their lives, hoping that they will escape the way they feel. In reality, this can make it harder to tackle the root of the issue, and it can be much better to make smaller changes that will improve your existing lifestyle. No two people are the same, which makes it crucial that you take steps that apply to your situation rather than follow other people’s lead.
For example, if you feel bad about a relationship you are in, talking to your partner and improving the situation will be much better than simply breaking up with them. This doesn’t have to directly relate to the way you feel, either, with many people finding that adding things like exercise into their routine makes them feel better throughout the day. Your emotions are always influenced by the things you do, making it wise to spend time adapting your day to do things that bring about joy.
Talk To Others
Talking has always been one of the best tools for those who are struggling with depression. It can be hard to rationalize your thoughts when you are trapped in your own head. Sometimes, saying what is on your mind to someone else can bring the clarity you didn’t know existed. Alongside this, it can also help you to get the support you need, with new ideas and assessments of your emotions giving you the chance to build a good understanding of your own mind.
Family, friends, and even your colleagues can be the perfect candidates for this. However, not always. While not everyone will want to talk about something like depression directly, most people will be more than happy to lend their ear when they know that something is bothering you. You should always lead the way with this, never waiting for people to ask if you want to talk. While your emotions feel very prominent to you, other people may not see the dark cloud that looms over you until you let them. You want to be sure you’re discerning who can be a heart with ears for you without criticizing, analyzing, or judging what you’re sharing. Going through grief recovery, grievers (and trained specialists) learn how to be a heart with ears for others and what that looks like. Empathy is my number one strength, so being a heart with ears comes easily and naturally. It’s why I love podcasting so much, too. For many of my guests, it’s the first time they’re sharing their story in such a public way, and I’m a stranger. It’s because I listen and allow grievers to share their story uninterrupted.
The people you know and love aren’t the only people who can help when you feel depressed. There are loads of professionals out there that can offer support and advice while you go through something like this, and it’s always worth looking for this help when you are struggling. A therapist will always be happy to give you the time you need, with no judgment being applied when you talk about the things that you find hard. They’re a great heart with ears because they’re a neutral party with no skin in your life game; they’ve got nothing to lose or anything to gain. This can be an amazing way to deal with depression, with many people learning things about themselves that they never knew. But, I am partial to grief recovery, as it’s often the root of what’s emotionally going on in our lives. Grief stacks up over time. This is why it often takes many years and many losses for people to connect the dots of what’s they’re experiencing in their life as grief.
Finally, as the last area to consider, it’s time to think about an idea that is controversial to some. Depression is a mental health issue that stems from much more than simply being unhappy, but many people find value in working hard to remain positive in their day to day lives when they are living with something like this. Being positive about the things you find hard can be a challenge, but when you remember that tomorrow will be a new day, it can become a lot easier to smile at things used to make you feel bad.
Of course, this doesn’t work for everyone, and pretending to be happy is no substitute for real happiness. In fact, how many times have you said “I’m fine” in response to the question “How are you?” Likely, like most people, that’s often the go-to answer, even when it’s far from the truth. When we’re uncomfortable about how we’re feeling, the last thing we want to do is “get into it” when the other person is likely expecting a flat answer rather than the truth. Imagine if everyone you asked would be honest about how they felt? You’d likely stop asking people how they felt if you yourself are uncomfortable with your own life and what’s going on, right? Also, we often ask questions like this in passing, for small chit-chat conversation. Do we really have the time (or make the time, rather) to hear how each other is feeling truly? Feelings aren’t sexy, thereby, we downplay our emotions, and when we’re ecstatic about life, it’s no different because heaven forbid you love your life too much. People are uncomfortable with other people’s happiness, too.
Depression is a big challenge for humanity. No matter how much technology develops, people will always have to live with conditions like this, and the solutions can often be impossible to see. Following the advice in this post is a great start, but it will also be worth reaching out to others who have dealt with depression if you want to keep your learning going. You never know; someone may share a solution that becomes the one thing that unlocks everything for you and sets you off on a positive path forward.
One final thought: never stop seeking answers that resonate with you and never lose hope.