If you’ve never been through a depression of any sort, it may be difficult to understand how beyond one’s control it actually is to make it dissipate and pull yourself out of it. It’s not like sadness or grief that is exceptionally painful and acute. Rather, it is a deep underlying malaise that saps one of their hope, their motivation and their energy. The only way to work through it is in small incremental steps that bring you closer to feeling better every day and to make positive decisions as you move through the process.
One must start by setting tiny goals and celebrating each milestone as they are crossed. Even if it is making a meal or taking a shower, give yourself credit for every small victory. Pretty soon those victories will begin to build and you’ll find yourself having a more positive internal dialogue, a kind one praising yourself for your accomplishments.
If you have access to therapy, use that as a primary tool for support. Frequently, friends and family is at a loss as to how they might support you. Their advice may make feel worse rather than better and you may sense their disapproval rather than their care, even though they do mean well. This creates the danger of isolating not only because you don’t want to hear what they have to say to you but also because you feel like you have nothing new to say to them. You may feel redundant and dull. You do, however, need to remain connected to someone so if you do have an outlet that makes you feel better, be grateful and use that outlet. Otherwise, you may lose perspective and your thoughts may grow dark in that lonely space.
Reaching out may be difficult but remind yourself that you are loved by these people and you are not a burden. You might also consider a support group for depression where others understand the experience and may be able to offer a unique viewpoint with no emotional attachment to your outcomes. Seek out good listeners and not those that want to fix this.
Socialize if possible and maintain activities even if they are on your own. Take a walk somewhere peaceful and stay present, enjoying your surroundings and company when it is available. Make a coffee date and get out of your house. Life going on around you can be very inspiring and you’ll be tempted to rejoin the activity more and more.
Your brain can be your own worst enemy when you are depressed. Negative thinking can spiral out of control and drag you deeper into darkness. When you catch yourself beating yourself up, counter it with a thought about something positive. Forgive yourself for this condition. You did not create it and you do not have to be perfect. Embrace your humanity and know that in the future, it will make you a more compassionate person.
Journal your feelings, even the negative ones, as this will all create a roadmap that helps you to understand which ones hurt you the most and work to mitigate those. Beware of these kinds of thinking – extreme moralistic belief that everything is either “good” or “bad”; the words “always” or “never” or “should”; not counting the positive; creating future scenarios of doom; name calling. These are all lies that we make up in our mind and are not the truth.
Even though your mind is not well at the moment, take good care of your body. Get regular sleep, eat good meals, stretch and exercise. When all else fails, just be a good animal. Once you get back to basics and stop the negative movie in your brain, you will be on the path to winning the battle.