I was diagnosed with depression by my primary care physician. One of the first things she said to me was along the lines of ‘we know a lot about depression and there are lots of medications that can help’. My immediate thought was, ‘there’s no cure. I’ll have this until I die.’ And this is true. Unfortunately.
I’ve been dealing with depression since before I was a teenager – that’s right, I was a depressed child. I just never told anyone. I even seriously contemplated suicide. I got all of my mother’s prescription pain meds, put them on her bed, sat there, and cried. In hindsight, I may have been better off by now if I’d told someone about that when it happened. But I was raised in a culture that doesn’t believe in mental illness, by a generation of parents who are never wrong and won’t believe something is wrong with you without irrefutable proof from leading professionals – professionals who know how you feel more than you do. They should: they went to school for 8 years. You’ve only been living with yourself every day of your life. I clearly see who’s more qualified.
But I digress. The point of this article isn’t for me to rant. It’s to tell you how you can make your depression more bearable. So let’s get to it.
- Recognize the cause. If you don’t know the cause, try to find it. I come from a family full of people predisposed to mental illness. In observing my mother’s siblings, I’ve discovered that they are all undiagnosed with who knows what. One of them has been diagnosed with schizophrenia and according to him, he doesn’t have it anymore.
I also have family members who have mental illness; some have committed suicide. Some people shouldn’t have children, and now that I know my family’s mental history, I realize I’m one of those people.
But maybe it isn’t genetic. Maybe you’ve had severe trauma in your life leading to PTSD; or maybe it’s situational. It’s very easy to do blame yourself for these feelings. If you have to, write down, ‘how I feel is not my fault’ and put it somewhere you’ll see it.
- Do something. I do mean anything. I struggle with having the motivation to do anything in a depressed state. My depression is crippling. Laying in bed is sometimes all I can do. I have skipped meals because fixing food – and eating it – was too much work. Even turning on Netflix is too much work.
Recently during an episode, I got up and played my digital keyboard for about 90 seconds. Then I got back in my bed. I said, “Yay, I did something!” It’s not much but it’s better than nothing. And doing small things can eventually build you up to do bigger things. This could be as simple as walking around the room and getting back in your bed. If you feel a little better, try cooking for yourself, cleaning, or going for a walk.
- Talk to someone. Talking to someone may be just what you need to feel a little bit better. When the people closest to you know what’s going on, it makes you feel less like you’re hiding how you are and how you feel. Talk to someone who will listen to you instead of blaming you or trying to tell you what to do to ‘fix’ it.
I talk about things other than my depression. The point is, talk to someone by whatever methods you’re comfortable with. For me, it’s texting. For some people, it’s the phone or in person. Maybe it’s social media. And talk about what you want. Maybe talking about your depression will make you feel better, or maybe like me you need to take your mind off of it and talk about something else.
If you can’t bring yourself to do talk to another person, talk to your pet, or yourself.
(Everyone does it.)