Hi everyone, I hope these blogs have been somewhat relatable and possibly even helpful. Feel free to send us a comment on your thoughts!
Today’s blog is from a friend who wanted to talk a bit about how they deal with depression:
I have been suffering through varying degrees of depression for about half of my life. Admittedly, I am still hesitant both to use the word ‘suffer’, and to even discuss this notion at all. I am a healthy young man, living and working in London, having already had opportunities that many people will never have. In ways, I have felt as though I have no right to feel anything less than stellar, when there are so many people in this world who are able to maintain a positive outlook, in the face of comparatively unbearable adversity. Tribulations that I myself will probably never experience or even understand.
When you reach a certain age, and a slightly better understanding of the problem and it’s prevalence, you realise that not only is it not uncommon, and that you are not alone, but that it’s not your fault, it’s often not the fault of the people or things or circumstances around you either.
A few years ago I concluded my time at university, and whilst I did scrape a rather disappointing degree, it came with alcohol dependency, disordered eating, a number of self-inflicted scars and an outlook of nihilism and despair. Even now, I remain unsure of exactly what triggered this, but I sought help (much later than I should have) and was prescribed numerous antidepressants. Sadly, these had no noticeable effect, and whilst I won’t say that I then ‘took matters into my own hands’ (which would have suggested a level of proactivity that I was largely incapable of at the time), I did eventually discover a few things that really helped.
– Exercise. This began as an alternative for my propensity to convert emotional pain into physical pain (which I considered to be more measurable and tolerable). The result was the development of a love for something that was truly healthy; physically and mentally.
– Nutrition. Taking control of my own eating habits, and breaking a long-running binge/starvation cycle, has given me a much better sense of control over other aspects of life as well. The positive body composition changes were an added bonus.
– Talking. Though I remain somewhat apprehensive and uncomfortable in discussing all of this (as I mentioned above); I know who I am, and that there are many like me, and that I shouldn’t be ashamed anymore. Trying to ‘save face’ and continue to hide all of this could have been disastrous.
– Friends. I’ve felt rather lonely for most of my life, which never helped. Now having a few close and wonderful friends (including a partner who has changed my life), all of whom I can trust with anything, has enhanced my life in ways I can’t begin to describe.
– Work. I’m usually the first to admit that I don’t currently enjoy my job. But I am good at it, and at worst, it is a proactive (and hopefully meaningful) distraction from the negative state of mind encountered were I to otherwise spend the time at home in bed. Though I’ll add that having a job you enjoy would be a step up!
Like me, you’ll probably note that much of the above has been said before in many online ‘how to deal with depression’ literature, and may even look gimmicky and disappointing. I’ve written them not only because I feel they do/can work, but more importantly to highlight the notion that there aren’t really any magic bullets. There are ways in which this will always remain a struggle, and slipping into old thinking patterns (and even behaviours) may always be a looming risk. Personally, I work, work out, eat right, sleep well, spend time with friends, family and girlfriend, plan and look forward to things, distract myself, talk, write, read and learn. Moreover, I have accepted that the only two things I will ever be in control of in my life are my thoughts and my actions, and I take responsibility for both and aim to care for them. I am in a better place now than I have ever been, but I am still learning how to do this, and will be for the rest of my life (and I’m not alone in this).