Life After Depression
Life after depression is basically life with depression. It never really goes away. I have suffered many times in the past from depression. The very first time I got to the point where I was literally bashing myself on my head with a hairdryer. I wanted to distract myself from the pain that I felt inside. It was overwhelming. It took me months, a whole heap of prescription medication, and weekly visits to my counsellor to get through that time. I thought that I had fixed myself. Actually, not so much fixed myself, but I thought that the drugs and counselling worked. I never realized that depression could come back, and I never realized that it could come back even harder.
The worst time was when I returned back from an amazing trip overseas. It was a trip of a lifetime, one I had been dreaming of for years and one I should have felt so lucky to have completed. But I wasn’t happy. I wasn’t happy at all. I was sinking fast into a deep, dark place where I thought that my only way out was to end my life. Without any hesitation, or previous planning, I wrote my suicide note and started taking a concoction of whatever pills I could find.
I am so incredibly grateful to have been saved, in every sense of the word. I may not have been happy at the time to wake up alive, but now I am more than happy to be here living the most amazing life. And by amazing I don’t mean high flying, glamourous, or whatever the media portrays to be “amazing”. I mean, a life that is mine, where I can make every day count, and where I am be grateful for what I have, even if it is not a lot.
Everyday I commit to my happiness and everyday I have to make an effort to keep my depression at bay. It’s not easy, depression can sneak back in at any time. It can rear its ugly head when you least expect it. I had many trips to my doctor, and even to the emergency department with crazy anxiety, where I would be shaking uncontrollably, or be having trouble breathing. It all coincided with the unhealthy lifestyle I was living. Partying and drinking, working insane hours, and rarely eating a full meal. I was trying my best to mask the pain that I felt on a daily bases. I felt unlovable, completely useless and I felt that I was just a burden to people. All of these, simply thoughts that I had created in my mind and convinced myself to be true.
I had a pretty traumatic upbringing and was abandoned by my own mother for good when I was just 14. That was in fact the second time she shipped us off to my father. The first time I was only 11. My mother suffered from severe depression, this was normal to us. Depression. That is how it ended up making an appearance in my life. I got it from my mother.
My darling brother suffered too. He gave up his fight with depression earlier last year and took his own life. After it happened I kind of sank back into my normal state of sadness. I had just given birth to my first baby two days before he said goodbye for good. It was easy for me to go back to my depression roots. I knew them so well. I even felt that I needed to let myself sink back there in order to somehow honor my brother. In my head I figured it would hurt less if I let myself get into the terrible state that he was in. I wanted to somehow feel his pain, and thought that would somehow heal mine. I was wrong, it didn’t help my pain. In fact, it made life so much harder. Luckily I know my warnings signs and I reached out for help straight away, I had to, I had a baby who needed me. Every day is hard, coming to terms with my brother’s death and also having a baby to take care of.
Living with depression is shit. Like I said, it never really goes away, no matter what you do, it will always be holding onto you. What I have learnt though over my years of dealing with it is this:
- You are not your depression. Do not let it take ownership over you. While you may feel that you don’t have the energy to fight it, I am here to tell you that you do! You can fight it, you can beat it, you can learn to manage it, handle it, and even learn to love it. WHY? Because it is helping you shape your life, it is helping you to learn and to grow. If I never suffered from depression, I wouldn’t be here writing this right now.
- Know your warning signs. If you have suffered in the past you will know when depression is starting to creep back into your life. It is really important that when these signs start to show that you do something about it. I know when to ask for help and I know when I can help myself. It has been years of practice, so I am an expert on myself at this stage. You are too. You are the expert of yourself and you have the power to make change.
- Eat well and for goodness sake, take vitamins. This is one of the things that I do right away when I see my warnings signs. I get straight onto vitamins, probiotics and start eating 3 healthy meals a day. It actually makes a huge difference. What you put into your body, you effectively get back. So if you aren’t nourishing yourself with the good stuff, then you wont be feeling any good.
- When your feeling shitty, don’t drink alcohol. I know its easy to reach for the vino when you feel sad, but the truth is you should do the exact opposite. Alcohol never helps, it may help to dull the pain momentarily, but in the long run it will make you feel even worse. And on top of that no one, EVER, makes good decisions when drinking alcohol.
- Bad stuff happens to everyone and its ok to be sad. Life can be tough, not just depression. Sad stuff happens to us all. Sometimes you will be sad and that’s perfectly OK. When you do feel sad, be sure to watch for your warning signs so that you don’t let your sadness turn nasty and end up in the black hole of depression.
- Its good to talk. Find someone who also has suffered from depression in the past. They are the ones who can relate, and that is what you need. Someone who can relate. Anyone who hasn’t suffered finds it very difficult to understand.
- Exercise. It is a really powerful depression burner. Getting off your bum and busting out some squats, boxing some bag, and/or yoga, help keep your mind focused.
- Breathe. I think meditation saved me after my suicide attempt. It is a very simple, yet very effective way to help yourself. It invites calm and peace into your life. Exactly what is needed when depression is trying its best to sneak into your life.
- Challenge any negative thoughts that go through your mind. This was also a game changer for me. For years I went around think that I wasn’t good enough, I wasn’t loved and that I was just a burden to everyone around me. These were simply thoughts that I had created and somehow believed to be true. The fact is, none of them were true. When you can learn to master your mind, you can learn to master the world.
- Know that you are loved. There is someone, if not more than one person out there that would be distraught if you were not here. This person loves you so much and would do anything to to help you feel better. I know that this can be hard to believe at times, but it is true. I had my phone screen saver with this quote “you are loved” and I would look at it everyday, a hundred times a day and tell myself that is was true.
- You are NOT alone. There are so many people that suffer from depression. You are not alone. You don’t have to suffer in silence. Sharing stories help heal pain, that is why I am writing right now. It helps me heal. And it helps me because I hope that I am helping you. Depression can happen to anyone, anywhere, anytime.
- When you feel like it is too much for you to handle alone, reach out to someone, anyone and share your pain. Believe when I say that whoever you reach out to, they will be so happy that you did. They don’t have to understand your depression; they just have to know that you need help.
I am on a mission to help the world be a happier place. But over the past 2 years I have come to realize that people do not like to admit they are unhappy. People don’t like to talk about mental illness, and it is because of this we loose so many divine souls that could have been saved. If you think someone is suffering, please do not ignore them, please don’t just tell them that everything will be ok. That is the worst thing you can say to someone who is suffering. If you see someone reaching out for help, please do what you can to help. Even if you cannot help them yourself, reach out to an organization that can. (BeyondBlue, The Black Dog Institute, Lifeline, RUOK. Just google mental health in your area)
We all have the power to help ourselves and to help others. Please do not abuse this power.
I am here to help in whatever way I can.