This is going to be somewhat unorthodox and very long and personal. I have been compelled to reach out over this for some time now, but never felt eloquent, educated, or qualified to talk on the matter. I would like to talk about something which I feel is very important and relevant which is depression.
My life is good. I have a wonderful and engaging job, a supportive family and friends whom I love, a boyfriend who rocks my world daily, and a positive relationship with myself and a strong drive and motivation for self improvement. But I have not always been this way.
Exposing yourself and being truly vulnerable is a difficult thing to do, but my sense of urgency to reach out to those who may need help supersedes my reservations. Admitting that I used to struggle with depression is difficult to portray with authenticity over the anonymity of the internet. I will tell my story in the hopes that it encourages you to tell yours. Either to a friend, family member, or a qualified professional. If you feel that you are not comfortable reaching out in real life or that you have no one compassionate to reach out to, do consider reaching out to me. I can't guarantee that I can help you. I am neither qualified nor educated. But I can listen because everyone matters. You matter.
Depression manifests itself over time. Slowly consuming and disarming you. I recognized the severity of my depression in junior year of high school, and this was the first moment when I recognized that I had a problem. I felt isolated, lost, and that I wasn't mentally or emotionally prepared to deal with the staggering and overwhelming state that is depression. I had a supportive and loving family and group of friends. It would have broken their hearts that they did everything for me and my privileged first world life and that I felt this way. I needed a justification that simply was not there. But I was smart, so I reached out to a counselor I had been speaking to. The humility that such a strong and brave person, as I had considered myself even in the worst of times, could suffer through depression was devastating. But despite this, reaching out was a defining moment. Recognizing that action must be taken and following through may not feel rewarding immediately for everyone, but you need tho arm yourself in the battle against depression and reaching out is a significant step in regaining control,sense of self, and very critically: realistic perspective.
Unfortunately my depression was too severe and I could not defeat it. I graduated highschool, lost my best and most supportive friend (who moved to England for university), and left behind my family and that supportive counselor. I floated along until second year of university where one day I found myself sobbing alone in my room, terrified that if I did not defeat the depression that it would defeat me. I would never hurt myself. But I felt that I had drifted so far from who I felt I really should be that I had no realistic perspective. In fact, I could no longer remember who I was. Vague memories of bright days, riding my bike in the park, kayaking at the beach.... How long had it been since I had really been outside? I strapped on my jogging shoes and started to sprint down the street. I stopped after two minutes, exhausted. What was I running from anyway? How can I learn to run? It was simple: pace yourself. Start by running for just five minutes,then walk for a minute, then repeat. Baby steps. Cross one bridge last a time. But I also needed a goal... Running around the park seemed meaningless without a cause. I found a purpose, I would teach myself to run for just 30 minutes. My depression had left me weak and unmotivated; it seemed like a daunting goal in my condition.
I met my goal within weeks. Then one day I just kept running. 21k later, wait... Isn't that a half marathon? Fitness was critical in regaining a balance. So critical that everything else about working out was irrelevant. Kilometers no longer mattered. Distance became irrelevant; the significance was forcing my body to work, flooding myself with endorphins, and relearning to invest in my health in a time where I no longer conceptualized the relevance of staying healthy when I had tricked myself into believing that remaining stagnant felt both safe and comfortable.
The darkest days of my life where in that cramped basement. Discovering the significance that athletics played in my mood and state became invaluable tools. It can be difficult, but it is critically important to discover effective ways which work for you to arm yourself against depression.
I still suffered from depression on and off through these years. I learned again how depression manifests itself slowly and appears to disarm you. once you realize its back, you are already lost, demotivated, and apathetic. How can you help yourself when you longer have any interest or desire in helping yourself? What a bizarre question, which only someone who has suffered through depression could understand.
Then I learned what I considering the final and quite crucial step. Listen to your body. Depression is a symptom. It is the result of something wrong in your brain or body. Its nothing that you did to yourself, but eating healthy and avoiding foods which you are into errant towards will help you immensely. It is bizarre how complex our feelings towards food have become. We think about our weight and caloric and nutritional content, and associate strong feelings of guilt and reward with eating certain foods, but we seem to miss the very obvious: how does the food that you eat legitimately make you feel? Does greasy food make you queasy? Does excessive sugar make you crash? Does dairy upset your stomach? Do what is right for you with only the motivation of feeling good and I would be shocked if this did not strongly impact your life. The more honest you are, the more beneficial this will be.
Lastly, understand that you may never fully over come it. But you can learn to fight it, control it, and make it much less relevant and prominent in your life. Arm yourself by learning to recognize when you are depressed and then how to combat it. I recommend talking about it with someone that you trust, and developing and enjoying a healthy lifestyle. I can now proudly say that I now control my depression. Rarely, I still have a bad day. On these days I reach out tho a friend, eat a salad, hit the gym, and spend time doing something that I love just for myself because I matter to myself.
I will finish with another story of my college years; a hike that I went on with some friends up a local mountain. I have an illogical and gripping fear of heights and this hike was steep. This is going to be therapeutic, I told myself; unfortunately, half way up I froze, sunk to the ground and buried my face into my lap. My friends quickly grew frustrated with me and left me behind. Hours later, the darkness came and no one had come back for me, I was alone on a rock cliff. Someone screamed my name from the darkness and a guy I didn't know came running back for me. He was livid that they had left me there. He was a stranger. He picked me up and carried me up the mountain.
I realized what an appropriate analogy for depression it was in that my depression was like the irrational fear of heights. My friends, who were not afraid of heights, could not empathize. By the time the night fell, I recognized that I was safe where I was sitting. I needed to move to get help, but that I was too afraid to step in the wrong place and fall down the cliff. In the darkness I had no perspective and could not recognize the safety from the danger. I had learned to have some control of my depression and i was terrified of making the wrong move and emotionally find myself where i was crying on the floor of my old basement suite in second year university. Consider this journal that stranger calling your name. If you need help: this is a message for you.