Saturday, 2 August 2014

What I've Learnt From Experiencing Depression.

Kia ora friends,
You may or may not know that I am currently going through depression. I’ve been worried about my mental health for a few years, and I finally went to the doctor several months ago, and she said I had depression and anxiety. I started taking meds and went to regular counselling. I quit my job and went on the sickness benefit.
I wanted to express what I’ve been learning through this all, and to encourage anyone who is struggling.

You are free to feel.
This is the first point because it is one of the most important ones.
You are free to feel.
YOU are FREE to feel.
No matter what our society tells us about how unhelpful or untrue or girlie emotions are, we all have them. And they are there for our benefit!
Our feelings cannot be fully relied upon, but they are an indicator of what is going on for us.
If you are not feeling good, and it’s a constant thing, seek some help.
Allow yourself to be true to what is going on at an emotional level. From there, build logic and sound reasoning. Do not be ruled by your emotions, but listen to them.

Talk to someone.
We are creatures built for community – it’s important for our well-being to be social. Isolating yourself from others will only skew your perspective and further your mental illness.
If you are concerned that you are unwell, tell someone.
If you are concerned that someone else is unwell, tell someone.
We work better when we work together.
Talking to your doctor, friends, or family, can give you another opinion on what is truly happening for you. You don’t have to be struggling to talk honestly with others, it’s a sign of trust and it will bring you new depth in your relationships.
The sooner you get help, the sooner you get better.

You are not alone.
My doctor told me that one in two people struggle with mental illness. That’s 50% of our society!
So please, please, please know there are other people going through a similar thing to you. And there are loads of people who have overcome mental illness too!
There is something special about knowing others feel our pain.
You are not alone love.

Take a holistic approach to health.
Health isn’t just physical, it’s social, emotional, mental, and spiritual too.
So deal to health in these ways. Exercise. Go to the doctor. GET COUNSELLING. Hang out with your friends. Eat well. Laugh. Listen to music. Travel. Pray. Celebrate. Mourn. Educate yourself.
Be a whole person.

You can’t always control your feelings.
This is one of the biggies with depression. I am someone who wants to believe that my feelings don’t have to direct me or dictate my mood, that I can have ownership over them.
But with my depression, sometimes I can’t choose how I feel. I may still know that I am loved and known, and yet feel lonely as ever.
So do what you can, but give yourself a break. Your thoughts are still learning to be healthy too.

Try to maintain a normal life.
Depression doesn’t have to be your total identity. It is huge, and it is bloody hard, but it is not unbeatable.
Don’t lock yourself in your room, or give up your favourite things.
Still go out, and exercise, and connect. Depression doesn’t have to take away from the things a ‘normal’ person enjoys.

Know your limits.
As a bit of a rebuttal to the last point, don’t overdo it. If you know you’ll cry if someone asks you how you really are, or if you are probably going to get wasted if you go to that party, stay home.
Let yourself have the night off, and do something refreshing by yourself.
You don’t have to go to every event, and you are not going to miss out on life.
Be wise my dear.

Remember to rest.
Grief is a sneaky thing. If you don’t express your emotions verbally, your body will do it physically.
When I first stopped working I started sleeping over 10 hours a night and lost 6kgs. My body was expressing the grief I felt inside. I lost loads of energy and motivation.
As I’ve worked on things with my counsellor, I am slowing building my appetite and energy levels back up.
But if you need to take a month off, or go on holiday, do it.
At the least take one day a week out for yourself. And relax!

Always carry $3 with you.
This is the price of a double cheeseburger. You never know when you might need one.

Trust your friends.
Your friends are there to love and support you. They want to know what is going on for you.
They want to help.
Put your fear of rejection on the shelf and talk it out. Trust they desire the best for you. Always be grateful. And realise that you are giving them an opportunity to help, and you will absolutely return the favour when things are looking up.

Build a really good support system.
I chose 13 friends to be close to while I was really struggling. I told everyone else that I was taking some time out, and that involved stepping back from certain relationships. (Everyone was fine with this by the way. You are not indispensable).
I turned down my empathy, and focussed on a few people.
This allowed me some rest and reduced my relational responsibility.
Communicating my needs with those 13 friends helped them to know what to do, and helped us both understand how things were going to look for a while.

Stay connected to your communities.
This is a biggie!! Please stay part of your sports teams, churches, flats, clubs, friend groups, etc. You are in a place where others are helping you and you are receiving a lot.
You need something to contribute to.
So stick at it – these groups are amazing!

Everyone’s depression is different.
I don’t feel exactly what you do, and I would never try to claim that.
I can empathise to an extent, but never fully grasp your reality.
Don’t compare yourself (or your progress) to others.

There is hope.
My friends, THERE IS HOPE!
Depression is not incurable. I don’t know if I will overcome it fully, but I believe one day I will be able to manage it and live a full life.
Don’t give up, hope is coming for you.

Lastly, I would like to thank those who have been supporting me this year. I owe so much to you all, and there is so much love in my heart for you.
I’ll never forget it.

Belinda, Anna, Camo, Frin, Lyndon, Ira, Britty, Danae, Silvan, Amber, Dylan, Phil, Bazi.
Thank you all.

With grace and peace,
La. x

1 comment:

  1. Wonderfully written. I wish you the best on your journey.