How To See Past Your Depression
Depression, low-mood, whatever you want to call it, is something that affects more people than you’d think. Whether you’ve been ‘officially diagnosed’ or not, you’re still going to be feeling pretty awful and will undoubtedly find yourself wondering how you’re going to make it through the day. On the phone to my Dad after four hellish weeks at university, all I could say in response to his promise to bring me home was a despairing, “But that’s a whole week away!” When you’re suffering from depression, minutes drag on for hours and it’s almost impossible to imagine that you’ll ever see the light of day again. But, as someone who has recently broken the back of a fairly unpleasant bout of depression, I think I am entitled to say that you will.
Here are a few things to remember if you’re in the midst of a battle with the ‘black dog’:
- You haven’t always felt this way; there was almost certainly a time during which you felt better, if not actually happy. Therefore, it is very unlikely that this state of mind will go on forever.
- As tempting as it is to wallow in self-pity and succumb to all your apparent ‘failings’, doing this will only prolong your suffering. The vicious cycle that is depression will thrive off of your self-depreciating thoughts, making it even harder to fight your way through to the other side.
- You may be tired of people telling you this (I certainly was), but what you’re going through now will probably shape your life for the better. Whether it serves as a hint that you should change job/ leave university/get out of a relationship, you’ll probably find that you come out of this having learnt a few things about yourself. If I hadn’t developed depression as I started university, I would never have seen the personal growth that I’ve experienced over the last six months and I’d probably never have realised (or I’d have realised too late) that I don’t actually want to study the course that I originally chose.
- It’s important to distinguish between yourself and the illness. It’s easy to ‘become’ your depression, often to the extent that you forget who you were before all this started. But, if you manage to separate the ‘real you’ from the ‘depressed you’, then you may start to understand your triggers, as well as remember that you are not defined by the way you are feeling at this moment in time.
- If you, like I was, are feeling depressed because you’re spending your life doing things you feel you have to do, rather than things you actually want to do then take a break. Just step back and re-evaluate the situation. Of course, not everyone has the luxury of dropping everything and taking some time off, but there is always a way out of doing whatever it is that’s getting you down. If you can, just give yourself time and space to figure out what you really want to do in life; there’s no point struggling on with something that makes you unhappy. Whether this involves a complete career change, or simply just replacing one hobby with another, you might be surprised by the effect it has on your mood and sense of fulfilment.
I really hope that at least one of these points has help you (or a friend) in even the smallest way. In the depths of depression, the idea of feeling better will probably seem like a distant and very unlikely possibility and you probably have a very clear view of where I should shove my article and my stupid advice. But please, just trust me on this one.