Once upon a time, I was severely ignorant towards people who called themselves depressed, and I was harsh and angry at them because I thought of it as if it were the simplest excuse they could possibly find. Now, I can honestly say that this isn’t something you should learn from your own experience.
By nature, I’m a cynic and a pessimist, which only made it easy for depression to get to me – if you have a mindset similar to mine, you should know that you’re an easy target as well. All it takes is a little push, really, and you might not even notice how deep in you actually are until you break down into tiny puzzle pieces that are extraordinarily difficult to put together.
Like other illnesses of the mind, the cause for depression can be quite difficult to determine. Although there are familiar reasons like trauma or grief, a person who has a loving family, an interesting social life, and a successful career can also fall to their knees beneath depression, and that’s exactly what makes it so dangerous.
Keep Your Friends Close
…and your enemies even closer―you need to study depression because it’s foul and it can sneak up on you. First, you need to understand a properly functioning brain and know about the chemistry balance behind it. When a person is depressed, that balance is being violated.
It all starts with a small part of your brain called the hypothalamus, which is responsible for regulating your emotions, libido, sleep, appetite, body temperature, etc.― all the basic functions of your body. It also controls the pituitary gland, which is in charge of the primary hormones (including the happy ones) and so, your overall happiness depends on this pea-sized part of your brain.
Therefore, when you’re depressed, all of your emotions are located in the color spectrum that shows shades of blue, your libido is practically nonexistent, and your sleep habits and appetite go to either one of the two extremes. So basically, the amount of dissatisfaction you have with your life dictates the chemistry in your brain.
It’s A Bottomless Abyss
I see depression like a big dark cave that lures you in, because it provides you with comfort in isolation. I’m sure you have watched Alice in Wonderland at least once in your life, and I’d like to remind you of the moment when she starts falling down the rabbit hole. The very same things happens to people who start falling into the depths of depression – you don’t know where you’re headed, you don’t want to get there, and it seems like a bottomless abyss.
After that fear wears off, you decide to willingly trim the sails and ride the wave and decide to just go with it. That sort of limbo is low-maintenance, and you can exist in it without having anyone’s expectations to meet.
Here, we arrive to the questioning everything phase and not in a curios, healthy way, but regarding the meaning and the point of existence and how random and banal everything around you is. That is when I decided that there’s no need to leave my bed.
It’s Difficult to Recognize It
At least before it’s too late, and especially if you have never been in a similar situation before. We all have bad days every now and then, and when you’re depressed, bad days turn into bad weeks and bad weeks turn into bad months.
Unless you conduct healthy routines like spending some quality alone time introspecting every day and being fully familiar with the demons of your subconsciousness (which is – let’s face it – a really, really small percentage of people worldwide and most of them are professionally involved with psychology), you won’t see depression coming.
Darkness from Within
That’s reason enough to get very close with all symptoms that are its vanguard. Most vocabularies describe depression as a feeling of sadness, but that’s only a mere beginning, because very soon, you move on to hopelessness and severe guilt. Once you get acquainted with these dark shadows and they start following you around and messing with your mood, you should be able to notice a loss of focus and a significant decrease in your overall productivity.
Accordingly, your confidence levels will sink to the bottoms of the deepest sees, and you’ll start doubting everything – your skills, intelligence, and the ability to make decisions. It will seem like your whole life is a delusion and that you can’t rely on your friends or your family, so those connections will begin dissolving slowly.
This heaviness will become a physical burden and tiredness will become your constant state. In order to silence your mind, your most probable consolation will be in the form of substance abuse and chances are that you’ll get pretty creative with that matter. At this stage, people who suffer from depression are brainstorming about different ways to bring harm to themselves, as well.
Somewhere along this ride, the responsibilities you have towards your work will stop having any weight and “worker of the month” will be the very opposite of what you are. For me, this happened in all life aspects, not just the professional one.
The Best Defense is A Good Offense
War is a common state in nature – exchange of power is in constant flow. War shouldn’t only have a negative connotation, because you can fight for a better life, a better job, or for the ones you love. Although the history of war is filled with ruthless dictators who wanted to conquer the world and redesign it in their own cruel image, those very monsters are an excellent background in a composition of a painting that shows heroes and demonstrates their bravery. If there wasn’t any darkness, we won’t be able to recognize the light, right?
Break the Chains
You are faced with two options here – you’ll either let depression destroy you or you can break these chains which are nothing more than a figment of your imagination, and a strong one for that matter. So, if you are capable of creating something that powerful, imagine what you can do when you’re free of these heavy blue shackles.
Strength comes from within. I’m positive that people who you love and who care for you deeply will throw you a rope and try to get you out of this abyss, but until you’re ready to grab it and open your mind to the world once more, their efforts will be in vain.
If you’re a control freak, such as I’m, and you think you can do everything by yourself without anyone’s assistance, this may be a problem for you too. I was fully aware of how unhappy I am, but I needed a lot of time to realize that this isn’t a battle I can win without an army of supporters behind me.
It’s pretty selfish of you to think that you’re alone in this or in the whole world, because you’re not – and neither was I. By refusing help, you’re not only hurting yourself, but everyone around you, and if you don’t care enough about yourself, you can find enough strength in you to fight this battle for the people who love you.
No matter if this blue period lasts for months or years, it will wreck you – the longer you allow it to linger on, the more of a ruin you’ll become, until there’s nothing left but foundations of a person you once were.
It’s never too late to fight it off, and this is one battle you cannot always win, because not a cause in the world is hopeless. The bottom line is that you deserve to be happy, and you should do everything in your power to get rid of those negative thoughts and make things happen for you.
Because of this fact, you can either admire the ruin you once were, or, you can begin believing it was meant for them to get wrecked so you can go back to the healthy part of the temple and move on from there. This image worked for me just fine and more than that, actually, because I know exactly how to reconstruct myself and by which means I should do it.
But, start with baby steps, because too much of everything may just get you back in bed. As a matter of fact, don’t get up yet – surround yourself with everything you love; books that make you see the world differently, watch movies that strengthen your hope, play music that awakens the most innocent feelings in you. Art is the most extraordinary creation of humankind and it will make you see why your life’s worth living.
It’s a hell of a journey, and it won’t be easy. There will be times when you’ll think that the abyss is a comfort zone you should return to. You will be exhausted, disappointments won’t stop coming your way, and it may feel like the world is one cruel place that’s governed by fear. The scariest part of a roller-coaster ride is the free fall, isn’t it? And, it wouldn’t be any fun without the scary part, so have faith in yourself.
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