My personal journey to dealing with depression was not an easy one. But I hope that some of what I went through may help others who are also on the road to recovery. In this article I share my experience and offer my 5 tips that helped with my recovery.
Depression: is it just an intense sadness?
One thing I realised whilst suffering from depression is that most people don’t understand what it is and how it affects sufferers. It would be easier perhaps to explain depression if it was like ‘Sadness’ from the film ‘Inside Out’ – a glum little blue figure in our brains that just incessantly sighed.
In my experience, however, depression is vastly more complex than this. Many may simply want to define it as ‘an intense sadness’. But it’s not that. Depression is not just a mental affliction- it affects you physically, and once it gets its claws into you it’s very difficult to loosen them.
Feeling boxed in
For me, it was like having a house built on top of and around me. It’s a strange metaphor, I know, but just go with me for a minute…
My depression was fuelled by the usual suspects: school, work, money, and eating problems; and as my problems got worse, the smaller and more worthless I felt.
It was a as though one day someone had placed a brick on my head, which was slowly but surely squashing me down. And everyday, another brick was being added, until it felt impossible to get out of bed in the morning. Not only did my own mind tell me there was no point in moving, but my body also seemed to resist.
I was so heavy, and even the smallest task was draining. I was distracted, exhausted, and felt like I was never truly present. As if the bricks were emerging around me. I felt separated from everyone and everything I used to love. Talking felt like shouting over a wall, and even then, the bricks were squeezing me tighter and tighter until anything I had to say died, trapped in my throat.
Depression is not terminal and it is not permanent. This is a key thing to remember for anyone who is suffering or is close to a sufferer.
It may not seem like it, but there is a way out. So, here’s what helped me:
Just like in AA, the first step is to admit you have a problem.
I opened up to a teacher and that was what set me on the path to recovery. At the time, I couldn’t sleep. All day my brain was blank and hazy, and yet, the moment my head hit the pillow, it was a seething pot of self-loathing, pity, and unadulterated sadness.
My teacher suggested I start writing a diary, which seemed like a stupid solution at the time, but it helped me immensely. I was able to rationalise my feelings in private, and work through my issues until I could see their roots. I could then explain my feelings to others, who helped me work out how to ease my stress and solve my problems. Isolation is a breeding ground for depression, and the more I talked, the more I was able to dismantle those walls.
2. Eating well and exercising
This one may seem obvious, but I’m going to put it out there anyway because it needs to be reiterated.
Depression made it difficult for me to complete even the bare basics, like preparing food, which often meant a lot of unhealthy snacks or I just didn’t eat- both of which are poor choices.
Eating three, well-portioned meals is key to recovery and also regaining control. Much like exercising, this probably seems impossible. But it’s about easing yourself in with a bowl of cereal or a ten minute walk.
4. Consult a medical professional
A doctor may suggest therapy or medication, both of which helped me.
Depression is caused by a chemical imbalance, and often, the above tips alone cannot control your symptoms. Sometimes, medication is necessary and that is nothing to be ashamed of. The tiny pill you take with your breakfast does not label you as weak, all it does is prove that you are trying to get better, and that is something to be proud of.
5. Be optimistic, but not hard on yourself
Recovery is hard, and it’s only human to want results fast.
During my recovery, I found myself over-analysing every emotion, wondering if I’d ever feel truly ‘normal’ again. The only solution is to try your best – but remember – recovery is not linear, it’s an uphill climb across a mountain range. There will be dips and twists in your path and you will slip and fall. But one day, after a while, you’ll suddenly realise how much sweeter the air is and finally see the beauty of the view.
If you or someone you know is suffering from depression and want to find help, we recommend reaching out to organisations such as Mind or Young Minds for further support. Here are some links below if you’d like to read more about these charities:
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