Saturday, August 16, 2014

My Experience With Depression

Depression is no joke. 
It's not weakness, it's not lack of appreciation of life. 
It's a real disorder that affects you in ways you can't imagine if you've never experienced it yourself. 
It's a unrelenting sadness that sucks your soul, crushes your spirit and makes you forget the greatness of who you are. 
I've been open about being treated for depression, most people would never imagine the pain I've hidden behind a smile. 
Luckily, I've found really helpful strategies that keep depression in remission. 
If you are struggling with depression, please keep seeking treatment until something works. 
And something WILL work- don't give up. 
There is hope.

First of all, if you are not functioning well- or if it takes an inordinate amount of energy to get even the smallest task accomplished- medication. 
Be evaluated by a psychiatrist- that's their specialty. 
If you don't like the first one you see, go see a different one. 
The first medication you try may not work, I had to try several before I got one that worked well. 
In my opinion, untreated depression is much worse than possible side affects from medication. 
Your body can't heal when you are depressed.
That should tell us how debilitating depression is physically. 
Later when you are stabilized, you can consider how long staying on medication is right for you. 
Sometimes it's for a few months, maybe a few years, possibly for the rest of your life. 
Second, therapy. 
Deal with the shit you have been repressing your entire life. 
Take it out, look at it, and feel your feelings. 
The fear of dealing with it is far worse than actually dealing with it, I promise you. 
You don't have to lay on a couch for 40 years contemplating your belly button- that's ridiculous. 
Try a large and regular dose of self compassion. 
When you are good and sick of your own story, possibly try coaching. Coaching works because it teaches you good mental health hygiene. Learn what your triggers are. 
For me, I don't watch the news- it's a distorted view of the world- focusing on the negative and magnifying it to astronomical proportions. 
Our nervous systems are not made to handle the details of every single heinous atrocity committed on every corner of the globe. 
I make sure I eat well, and sleep enough. 
I don't hang out with people that treat me badly, or make me doubt my sanity- even if they are family. 
I protect my energy like the queen guards the crown jewels. 
And I infuse my life with positivity. 
Put together a box where you put in a note of every single thing you remember that makes you happy. 
When you are depressed, you can't remember what makes you feel better- so have something readily available. 
Have a happy play list. 
Learn to detach from painful thought patterns that create suffering. Practice random acts of kindness, read good news, cuddle with pets, go for a walk, spend time in the sunshine for vitamin D, make yourself go to gatherings where you feel loved. 
Don't retreat, keep involving yourself in life. 
Do things that feed your spirit. 
Most of all, treat depression as the serious disorder that it is- medicate it if you need to and don't be ashamed of it. 
You are not weak or ungrateful. 
I'll never forget when I went on medication and I was doing some self shaming about "needing" it. 
I asked my sister what people did before anti-depressants, and she said, "They drank, Keisha. Take the meds."

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