‘Stop being so sensitive.’
‘You overthink way too much.’
‘You’re so fortunate, why are you so sad?’
I get it. I shouldn’t be depressed. But guess what? *NEWS FLASH* We don’t get to choose not to be depressed. We didn’t choose to be depressed, in the first place.
When I was 16, I started college and decided to move out of home. Brought up the (liberal) Asian way and coming from a country where most sixteen year olds were still in the equivalent of 10th Grade, I was a small puppy lost in a dog eat dog world. Okay, maybe not as harsh as I put it to be, but you get the idea. However, it wasn’t the pressure of coping with that life and the new environment that affected me. In fact, I loved that life: having too much freedom and a trendy little studio apartment in a block of serviced suites right at the heart of the city. Whenever I missed my family, they were just a 20-minute drive away. Life was good. Or so I thought. I began experimenting and doing a hell lot of things that I knew were wrong (another story for another day). I was never the most innocent, well-behaved one, but my parents always trusted in me to do what was right. Given the amount of freedom, financial and emotional support they provided, I was overwhelmed with guilt. And it was that guilt that triggered my depression.
After much self-diagnosis (highly not recommended) through online tests and quizzes, I decided to get a straight answer from a psychologist. On a September afternoon, I walked into her office. An hour later, I walked out teary-eyed, having been diagnosed with mild depression and was told it would become more severe if I didn’t seek treatment immediately. After that, I never went back to a psychologist. Instead, I simply made these small changes to my life that helped me tremendously:
1. Get out
I won’t tell you to go outdoors, exercise, get some fresh air and all that good stuff (although you really should) because 7 other ‘Dealing with Depression’ articles have probably already told you that. But I’m going to tell you to get out of that bed especially when you feel like wallowing in self-pity all day, get out of that unhealthy habit, get out of that lifestyle you’re living. Only then will you be able to tell your depression to f*cking get out.
I just told you to get out of bed and now I’m telling you to sleep. What a great contradictory person, I am. But let me make it clear that if you are in bed but not asleep, you should get out. Depression causes some of us to have trouble falling asleep, so whenever you are able to, make the most of it. Put Facebook, Twitter and Instagram aside, and sleep. If you lie awake in bed for too long and start having depressive thoughts, drag yourself out of bed and do something. At times like this I usually write, as I am doing now, or I color. I have an adult coloring book that I find very therapeutic. It calms me down, clears my mind and preps me for a good night’s sleep.
3. Talk to someone, but not just anyone
By talking to many different people about your condition or feelings, they subconsciously become more sensitive and careful with what they say to you. You don’t want your whole group of friends to treat you like a fragile glass bauble. The only way to get your old self back is to have loved ones treat you like the person you were before depression. Therefore, it is good to have just one trusted person whom you can talk to about how you’re feeling.
4. Write in a journal
Keep your thoughts in a journal. So elementary school but so effective. Short notes throughout the day are the best. It’s also nice to include a daily list of what you’re thankful for to encourage positive thinking. I even have an app on my phone to track my mood. It’s an indescribable feeling of achievement when I see my mood chart steadily improving. YAAAS!
5. Keep yourself busy
Lately, I’ve been keeping myself super busy with baking and (early) spring-cleaning. When I am preoccupied, my mind doesn’t get the chance to wander towards depressive thoughts or repeatedly go over the little details of things that trouble me. It is important to divert your attention away from your mind and towards doing something you enjoy doing.
Sometimes, it’s best to just let ourselves feel. Try to stop questioning why we feel sad, when we became sad and what made us sad. Simply let yourself feel. I often find that after I let myself just cry, without questioning, I feel happier. When we stop thinking and start feeling, we become more in touch with our emotions and will eventually learn to control them instead of letting them control us.
Now, half a year has passed since I was diagnosed. Coping with depression is still a struggle, but an easier one each day. I do sometimes get tired of trying but I remember that I am strong enough not to give in to depression and so are you.