I have struggled with both depression and anxiety for the past five years. As difficult as the struggle has been, I would not change it for the world. I became the person I am today because of my hardships, and I have learned more about myself and life along the way. Here are some lessons I hope every person who has undergone similar struggles can learn and share with others.
1. It is okay to let it out.
Bottling up emotions is without a doubt the worst thing you can do. Not only is it unhealthy but it will ultimately lead to greater pain and suffering. Letting out your emotions in a healthy way is key to relieving anxiety and letting go of negative emotions. This can be anything from exercising, listening to music, talking to someone you trust, or having a good cry.
2. You are stronger than you realize.
It may be hard to grasp at times, but what you have gone through has likely made you stronger than you ever thought possible. Depression and anxiety are some of the most difficult hardships anyone can go through in life. Beating them and coming out on top means you can deal with anything life throws at you. Own your newfound strength.
3. Others go through it too.
You are not alone. Countless other people go through depression and anxiety every day. It is likely that many people you know have struggled as well. Of course, no one experiences depression or anxiety in the exact same ways. However, you can take comfort in the fact that you are not alone. There are others to support you and you can support others as well.
4. Your past doesn’t define you.
Just because you have struggled in the past does not mean there is something wrong with you. You are not broken, nor are you the struggles you faced. You are still you, a beautiful person that has overcome the most difficult of obstacles. Don’t let depression and anxiety define you.
5. Don’t sweat the small stuff.
When you’ve undergone depression and anxiety, little things that may have bothered you before become seemingly insignificant. Let go of the stress they may cause.
6. Relaxation is key.
Close your eyes. Take deep breaths. Count to ten. You’ll be fine, I promise.
7. Medication is not always the answer.
Our society is more and more focused on treating every little thing with medication. Many medications for depression and anxiety give unpleasant side effects that may make your condition worse. If you don’t think medication is the answer for you, don’t feel like you need to take it. There are other options.
8. That being said, it’s okay to take medication if you need it.
Don’t feel stigmatized just because you need medication to stay balanced. Depression and anxiety, after all, can be caused by chemical imbalances. Therefore, some people really do need medication to fight their symptoms. Don’t be embarrassed or ashamed; there are plenty of other people who need it too, including me.
9. Who your real friends are.
Genuine friends will stick by you through anything. Their support is necessary for your recovery. You will quickly learn who is there for you and who isn’t. Don’t let those who aren’t supporting you negatively impact you. Let them go.
10. Family is everything.
As much as the support of friends helps, it is nothing compared to family. Family, as they say, is forever. You will learn what family genuinely means. They will give you endless support and unconditional love. Show them how grateful you are.
11. What you want (or don’t want) out of life.
Depression and anxiety are almost like a near-death experience; in fact, they can actually be near-death experiences. When faced with them, you will realize what is truly important to you. And what isn’t. Let go of what you don’t want in favor of what you do.
12. To appreciate life.
Once you have truly experienced pain, you will learn to appreciate joy. As much as the bad days will suck, they will make you realize just how amazing your good days are. Don’t ever forget the value of happiness. It is something to strive for every day!
13. There will always be someone out there to help you.
Whether it is a family member, friend, teacher, coach, or higher power, there will always be at least one person that is willing to help and support you unconditionally. Seek them out.
14. There is no cure.
Unfortunately, depression and anxiety are not illnesses that can be treated or fixed. Recovery is continuous. You will have good days and you will have bad days. Keep fighting.
15. Life goes on.
No matter how painful life is for you right now, it goes on. As hard as it is, this is only the present. You have to remind yourself that what you are feeling is temporary. You can move beyond it. As cliché as it sounds, time really does heal all wounds. All you can do is deal with the present as best you can and move forward.