I don’t normally do this, but I’d like to ask everyone reading to please be kind in the comments section. Since the thought of writing this entered my head I’ve had so so many reservations surrounding whether I should even make this post. Would I be able to express myself properly? Should I really be writing about something so personal online? I think even after I post this I’ll wonder if it really was a good idea. Doubts aside, I hope by writing this I can give other people going through similar mental health issues a feeling of camaraderie as well as, hopefully, give some advice on what helped me through my most recent bout of depression.
Depression for me isn’t just a feeling of unhappiness or apathy. When I say I’m depressed I mean that I feel as if every bit of myself has been stripped from my body – like I’m a walking shell of a human. Sometimes it feels as if someone has such a tight grip on my heart that searing pain is being strangled out of my core and I can do nothing but curl into a ball and wait for it to pass. Other times it’s as if I’m being suffocated by a pervasive cloud of self doubt and hate. During those times I’ll lay on the floor thinking that everything I have done, am doing, and will do is for nothing and that I am a useless piece of trash single-handedly dragging society down. However even with all of these terrible feelings tearing through me the absolute worst part of my depression is constant and absolute hollowness. Like I’m not a part of myself anymore. Nothing makes me happy and all I can hope for is that my depression will pass quickly.
Two weeks ago on Monday I woke up and immediately knew some sort of chemical imbalance had gone off in my brain because I was drowning in my usual symptoms.
Rationally I knew what was happening and the ways to combat it – after all I got my bachelor’s in psychology. However, there is a difference between knowing the information you were taught sitting behind a desk in a classroom and the ability to execute those coping mechanisms when you can’t be bothered to get out of bed because all you can focus on is the empty feeling that has settled into every pore of your body.
I was finally able to muster enough energy to drag myself out of bed around one in the afternoon. I brewed myself a cup of tea and began my (current) routine of grad school applications. Which went terribly because I could not get myself to focus on anything. So I decided, okay clearly this isn’t helping me – time to try something else. Which was when I thought I could try starting up on an art commission my friend had asked me to work on for his new office space. Now I’m not going to say I was immediately put back in a regular state of mind, but oh my God was planning and working on that painting essential in getting me out of the pit I’d fallen into. There was something about being able to work on a project that gave tangible results each day that helped to bring back bits of my self-esteem each day. I’m not going to lie and say it was easy to get myself out of bed each day and paint. There were definitely days I had to force myself, but I was able to because I knew each time I added a bit more to that painting a bit of my melancholy would be released and some feeling of self would return.
I finished the painting last week and, although not completely myself again, I am in such a better place.
So my advice to anyone else who may be going through similar troubles is to take something that will challenge you and POUR yourself into conquering it. Perhaps you have your own painting idea or craft project or exercise routine or recipe you want to try out. Find an activity that has a clear ending and execute it. No matter how badly you want to curl up and do nothing, no matter how pointless you think it is at the time – finish your project. Seeing that you can accomplish something, even if it’s just in small fragments, will help to clear the fog of depression and bring you back to yourself.
For anyone else who suffers from depression or any other mental health condition I want to remind you that you are not defined by your illness. The person you are and the person your ailment momentarily forces you to be are two different people. You can overcome the negative feelings pushed upon you by your brain and become the best you, you can be. And please remember if you’re feeling too overwhelmed and alone there are mental health experts out there who are more than willing to stand by you and help ♥