1. This is not permanent. When you get upset, it’s so easy to let yourself spiral and think about the many ways in which your life is screwed. “I’m having a bad day” can easily turn into “I’m going to have a bad year” which can morph into “everything will always be terrible for me.” It’s crazy how you can trick yourself so quickly. It’s insane how the despair and hopelessness you feel can just take over and erase any logic and reason from your brain. In that moment, you are convinced you will never feel good again. You really do believe it.
Of course, it’s not true. This too shall pass, etc. etc. But really. IT WILL PASS. Time is a gift from the life gods. It can heal most things. Honest. A day or two later, you will be shocked by how different you feel. It’s actually a little frightening and just goes to show that you can’t really trust yourself when you’re feeling depressed.
2. Be in the present. When you’re unhappy, it’s tempting to think about the past and basically anything that’s not right in front of you. But the past is something you can’t do a damn thing about and obsessing over it will only further the unhappiness. You have to focus on putting your energy towards what’s happening this moment, even if this moment is the absolute worst.
3. Don’t be at war with yourself. Sometimes when I fall into a funk, I do this thing where I treat my unhappiness like it’s this force I have to fight against and it just makes me feel even crazier. This unhappiness is a part of you. It’s not a villain attacking your brain, although sometimes it might feel like it is. (Note: I’m not speaking about clinical depression and mental illness here. I’m talking about general “I’m upset because I pay attention” issues.) You can’t pit yourself against…yourself. Acknowledge that whatever is going on with you right now isn’t separate from who you are.
4. People love you. It sounds so silly and obvious but one of the hardest aspects of feeling depressed is the alienation that comes along with it. You really do feel alone and then that can cause you to question how strong your relationships are. Don’t go to that place! You are loved. Everybody is loved and people will be there for you if you let them. Recently, I experienced my first full-blown panic attack which then triggered this insane avalanche of depression and anxiety that buried me for a week. I didn’t really tell anyone about it for two days because I was worried that if I acknowledged it, it would actually become real. Then, one night, I went to dinner with one of my friends and broke down in tears, telling him what I had been going through. Although it was scary at first, it felt amazing to have that kind of emotional release. Then guess what happened? My friend confided in me about his own past struggles with anxiety and depression. It was nuts because I had never known that about him and hearing him vocalize his issues, which so closely mirrored mine, was such a relief. Going forward I promised myself that I wouldn’t keep quiet if I was going through a difficult time. It’s hard for me to tell someone, “I need you” but I learned that you gotta get over that fear if you ever want to feel better.
5. You have so many happy memories lying ahead, just waiting for you to claim them. Again, it’s corny as hell but that’s what you have to do to get out of a funk. You have to become embarrassingly optimistic and visualize happy days at the beach with your friends, running through sprinklers, or whatever image that evokes happiness for you. When I was going through my shit, the one thing that made me feel better was thinking about a vacation that I was going to go on soon with my friends. I’d call my mom and be like, “Uh, I feel like the world is swallowing me up and poking me with knives. Will I ever feel differently?” and my mom would say, “Ryan, just visualize your vacation and how much fun you’re going to have!” LOL, this is so mortifying. I feel like an emotionally defective five year old. Whatever. The point is that it worked. To be honest, I don’t know what the hell happened that triggered my panic attack and then the buffet of shitty emotions that came after it but focusing on the positives helped tremendously. Everyone deserves to live life the life they want but it’s not always easy to achieve and people often get int their own way. That’s the hardest and easiest thing to remember when you’re feeling down in the dumps. It is your choice to change it. It is up to you to get it together. No one else’s.