We are unique. Healing finds us in different ways. This is what I learned as a sufferer. I am learning, still.
1. Don’t try to do it alone.
Depression’s grip is isolation. When we set ourselves apart from the people who love us, it is able to lock its clamps on us more strongly, keeping us prisoners in darkness. My husband encouraged me to sit in the family room even if in pajamas I had been wearing for the entire week. Life and routine unfolded around me, but the walls that cordoned started to crumble one little piece at a time.
Even if you have to start by leaving your bedroom door opened so you can hear their voices, do it. Every little bit of the “outside” puts cracks in the invisible bars that isolate us in our depression.
2. There are bad days and good days.
We have no control over the chemical imbalance in our bodies. Do not take on more by adding guilt, humiliation or any other negative feelings. Accept the good days and hang on tight during the bad ones.
If the first thought of consciousness when you open your eyes is frustration and fear at having to deal with another day of bleakness, take a deep breath. Hug yourself tightly! There were times when I simply closed my eyes and went back to sleep. There were other times when I could say to myself, “This too shall pass,” and put my feet on the floor. Do what you are able to do — no more, no less.
3. No, they don’t understand.
No one understands what you’re going through. Someone who has not walked in your shoes cannot tell you what it’s like. Someone who has suffered depression will only know what it was like for him or her. Those who are your greatest supporters still do not understand no matter how much they want to. Only when you accept this fact will you be able to let go of the pain that stem from their inability to understand.
That’s right: no, they do not understand. But that’s ok, too.
4. Yes, the meds help.
I hated the effects of the medication. Dry mouth made me feel like I couldn’t breathe or swallow. Fogginess in my head made me feel stupid. Being unable to do simple math or remember the simplest things was humiliating. Stomach cramps, indigestion, and swallowing all those pills made me feel more sick, not better. Not being able to make money to support my family was hard to accept, and throwing money away on medication didn’t help.
But, taking medication is the right thing to do because they help. Slowly but surely, the right dosage and combination will bring about a better tomorrow.
5. See a professional and keep your appointments.
A professional is someone who can keep an objective point of view about your treatment plan. Their perspective has a bearing on how we can get better. Keep your appointments. Be honest with them about how you’re doing. You can trust them — a bit at first and then more as they earn more of your trust.
6. The pain is not in your head.
The pain is real whether or not it’s visible. The pain can be numbness all over. It can be fatigue or mood swings. I went through a time when standing under a warm shower was the only comfort that made a difference in my day. Your pain exists. I believe you.
7. Talking helps; so does crying.
Talk when you feel like talking. Cry when you want to cry. Laugh when you have the giggles and scream when you are angry. Whatever you feel like doing, do it so long as you are not putting yourself in harm’s way.
8. Quitting is not an option.
Whatever you do and however you feel, quitting is not an option. When the only thing you’re focused on is quitting, call your doctor or your sponsor and let them know. If you cannot reach anyone, call 911. Write it on a sticky note and place it anywhere you can see it: Quitting is not an option. Otherwise, it’s game over.
9. Don’t believe everything you feel.
As discussed above, know that you are a good liar especially when you don’t feel good about yourself. It is easy for most of us to ignore the truth. When we’re depressed, the chemical imbalance lies to us. When you feel like throwing in the towel or harming yourself, get help. Call your doctor or your support person. If you can’t reach anyone or can’t be bothered, dial three numbers: 9-1-1.
10. You will get better.
You WILL get better. You will get out of the woods. Take a deep breath and turn on the lights. Sing. Cry. Call someone. Keep going. Don’t give up. Remember: Quitting is not an option. Hug yourself.