Another side of depression

Hi everyone, today’s post is from a friend on their personal experience of depression and anxiety;

I have been dealing with my issues for as long as I can remember.

Depression and anxiety seem so integral to who I am as a person now that I cannot think of a time when they were not there. Even when I was a child I remember every day being such a struggle to get through that I just wanted the days to end. For my life to end. They’re a black shadow that seems to be connected to me at all times. No matter how content I am in life they’re lurking in the back somewhere I just can’t quite see but I know is there. I imagine that for many of you this might be a familiar feeling and like me you are beyond tired of feeling this way. There is a life out there to be enjoyed and you want to be able to truly appreciate it all. You wish to feel better about yourself and by reading this blog you are taking the right steps in the right direction for yourself.

As odd as it may sound you should congratulate yourself on taking these steps. Not only because it helps you keep a positive frame of mind but because just like recovering from a physical issue it is important to keep motivated, something this helps with. It is something my therapist recommended to me to help me cope with my issues. That, regardless of how small or silly it may seem, if I do something positive in my life that is something I should be proud of. It helps to keep me in a positive frame of mind and it is a technique I would recommend. The short version of this: make the most of the little things. Tell yourself every day that you are worth it.

One of the hardest things I found was actually getting around to thinking that I should work on my issues. This is something that others I have spoken to have found difficult. Their issues are so developed and they are so consumed by them that they think they are hopeless and worthless. That there is no point. They have no motivation to get better because they do not believe that they deserve anything better. I know I feel this way and it was so hard to even conceive the idea to get help. I remember for me the turning point was being drunk again and sleeping outside at 5 in the morning again in the middle of London. I had places to stay but I deliberately made myself sleep outside. Why? Because I wasn’t worth a home or any form of comfort. Why was I drunk? Because it made me feel good. It was at this stage that I had my revelation. That I finally turned around and said that this was enough. I was punishing myself and making myself suffer so much that I was tired of it. This coupled with friends telling me it had to stop meant that I had finally hit breaking point.

You may look at what I have written here and think that you’re lower or that you’re worse than I am. You may have had similar experiences to my own of feeling like you have hit the bottom but are still doing the same thing and so feel bad reading this. Like you have failed. I know because it’s something I did when trying to get better. I would read things like this and think “oh well they’re doing better, why aren’t I?” If that is the case then all I can say is that you have not failed. That you are still trying even now in ways you do not realise. Each day you go through is an achievement and testament to your perseverance. I know taking that first step is so hard that to many it seems impossible. But you owe it to yourself to try and to keep going at it no matter how many times it hurts or how taxing it is. You deserve a good life and living your days in contentment.

My advice to you based on my experience is two things. One is to have a support network. It has been invaluable to me to have positive influences in my life and people who can support me when I regress. If you’re sitting there thinking that you do not have one, chances are you do. It’s just working up the courage to tell those who love you. They won’t judge and if they do, they are not worth your precious time. If you’re still convinced you don’t then I would encourage you to seek professional help. Go to mental health classes or go to a therapist. These have both proved essential to my mental health. I cannot truly stress how useful and vital they are. I honestly feel everyone should have their own therapist.

The second piece of advice is that it’s never too late to start working on yourself and for things to change. You do not have to hit the bottom to start moving up. You can do it at anytime and for those who feel like they are at the bottom, as hard as it may sound, you can still work on yourself. It doesn’t have to be today, it doesn’t have to be immediate and rapid. As long as you try each day to help yourself, to feel better about yourself then you will find one day you are more content. However if you slip, then that is fine too. We are not perfect and it is not helpful to yourself to beat yourself up so much over things. We all have down days and times when we are not at our best. So it is perfectly reasonable to say to yourself that you are feeling this way because funnily enough having that kind of acceptance makes it easier to then get back to self-improvement.

I remember one technique my therapist used to do with me was just to question every negative thought I had. To basically keep asking why; sort of like that annoying child who is trying to outsmart you. The thing was, much like with the child, you eventually run out of things to say and realise the negative thoughts are not coming out of anywhere useful or realistic. Another useful thing that they said to me was that whatever happened in the past happened the way it did. I am aware this sounds like Rafiki from the Lion King but for me it has been a huge help in accepting my life and working on it. There are things I massively regret doing and feel guilty about. Yet if I const go over them I will never get better. I do have control over my present and what I choose to do in it and so I can use that to better myself.

I’ll leave you now with some final thoughts. One of the biggest lies I have been told is what the norm is and how alone I am in my issues. I have never yet met someone who does not have some kind of problem, issue or some form of mental health issue. I would like to meet the person who invented what “normal” is in society and show them what they have done to so many people. You are not alone in your struggles and there are always people willing to help. You just have to look for them.

The journey towards feeling better about yourself is a long one but it’s still one worth doing. I have been doing mine for over 20 years and whilst I am not exactly where I would like to be I am living a better life than I could have conceived having even 5 years ago. It does get better. I promise you that but it takes effort from you. Words like this can only do so much, so use this as motivation to help yourself and do it for yourself. Find out works for you. The advice I give here is based off my own life and experiences. Just because it works for me doesn’t mean that it’s gospel for you. Take whatever solution works for you and use it. No matter how silly it may seem to others. If dancing in the street helps you feel good then go for it. Do whatever makes you feel better and feels like an improvement to your day and life in general. Just do not do what I used to and look for the solutions at 5 in the morning in the gutter face down in a dodgy kebab. The kebab alone will make you feel bad enough.