There were days where getting over depression seemed impossible. There were days when I felt good, like really good. So good I thought it was all behind me. The next day I would wonder what all went wrong and if I’d ever be able to break free from my brain.
Personally, I have broken free; for the most part. It was an interesting journey filled with dark rooms and far too many lonely nights watching Rocky.
Here are some of the lessons I’ve learned along the way.
1. It Does Get Better
It won’t feel like it will, but it will. Trust me. Yes, I know, easier said than done. Right, I get it. Everything is easier said than done. So do it. Work on it. You can get better.
2. The Crazy Mistakes You Make Now Are OKAY
Life is one ginormous experiment. Unfortunately, in the Western World, the political experiment is not going so well. If you ever find yourself taking politics too seriously, remember that this was all made up. Human beings made it up. Kind of like how we make up the way we live.
We are born into certain cultures, but that doesn’t mean we have to stay there. You can explore and experiment all you want. Depression can lock you into a world where nothing seems to be working and you feel stuck. That’s okay. Try and get out of it anyways. Sure, you’ll make mistakes along the way. I did. But the more you keep working on yourself and your issues, the more momentum you’ll build.
3. Barely Anybody Will Understand What You’re Going Through and That’s OKAY
Your journey through depression is probably a lot different than mine was. But I understand the emotions you’re feeling. I’ve received tons of emails from people who have related to my articles because they described how they feel.
If I had never suffered from depression, I never would have been able to truly understand what depression felt like. So, if somebody doesn’t understand what you’re going through don’t hold it against them. I know the stigma police out there get furious at anybody who doesn’t understand but, listen, it’s fine they don’t understand. It’s why I have a blog and my inbox is full. It’s a place where people can come and know they are not alone in their battles.
Treat your journey like you’re a lone wolf, but take help when it’s available to you.
4. Being Expectation-Free Isn’t Necessarily A Bad Thing
I used to approach certain books by saying, “This is the book that’s going to change my life.” Then I would be disappointed because they never did. Maybe they helped a bit, but they never left a lasting impact. Why? Because my expectations were drastically too high.
The same thing happened when I tried different strategies to help my depression and anxiety. I would feel good about them, they would work a little, and I would believe all my troubles were behind me. Of course, they weren’t. Then I would just shut down and give up hope on that strategy.
When I started going into situations or trying strategies with zero expectations, things started changing. I made progress because I wouldn’t get so frustrated if something didn’t work and I’d just keep working at it. My emotions would stay on an even keel and not fluctuate from severe lows to severe highs. I was able to put into practice small, consistent steps of progress and if I got knocked back, it wasn’t impossible to move back forward.
5. No Matter How You Feel About Life At The Moment, It Does Matter
I’m an introspective thinker. I like to analyze. I’ve been through phases where I question everything about life, thinking none of it is actually important. I mean, we are all going to die, so what does it matter how we live? But it all does matter. Life is important. It’s the ultimate gift that’s been handed to us, so we should enjoy it.
If life didn’t matter, then the taste of homemade chocolate chip cookies wouldn’t leave any impression on us. The hug from another human being wouldn’t raise our oxytocin levels naturally. We wouldn’t smile every time we watch a nephew laughing his butt off at the weirdest things. We wouldn’t have emotions if life didn’t matter. Life matters, maybe in ways none of us can understand, but it’s here, and it’s our right to live as fully as we can and enjoy the whole experience.
6. You Will Always Be Struggling With Something; Accept That
Every single one of us wakes up everyday with our own list of problems and insecurities. So why do we attack each other so much? Because of those problems and insecurities.
If someone doesn’t believe what you believe or doesn’t fully understand you, then leave it at that. Going after people is selfish and shows how small-minded you are.
7. When It Feels Like A Bad Situation, It Probably Is
There were plenty of nights, when I was out drinking with ‘friends’ and trying to forget about my problems. I knew it was a bad situation. I knew I had a test at 7am, and the fact that it was 1am and I still had a beer in my hand was not good.
I knew I was in bad relationships, but never changed them; kind of, just, hoped for the best. If it doesn’t feel likes it’s helping, or something or somebody is holding you back, it’s probably true. Trust your gut.
8. Don’t Try And Fit In
Fitting in may get you accepted, but it won’t get you respected by yourself. You won’t respect yourself for not being who you are. I understand you may not fully know who you are, and that’s okay. But don’t do anything or try and fit in with a group because you think it will make you happy. While it may initially, it won’t last.
I used to love watching football. Now I can barely make it through an entire game if I do watch — I usually catch maybe two games total a year. When a football conversation breaks out, I don’t try and act like I’m as enthusiastic about it as my guests. Who cares? If anybody actually cares enough to dislike you, then why are you still talking to each other? (I used to act like I enjoyed anything the person I was talking with liked, because I didn’t want them to hate me). This point, of course, goes with any subject.
Be yourself. It will free you into a world of love and laughter that’s not masked by false feelings.
9. Don’t Put Your Faith In Anything Other Than Yourself
This is the big one. I’ve learned this while going through every job I’ve ever hated and even (somewhat) loved.
If you want to make progress and get better, the only faith that matters is the one in yourself.
Do not put your faith in other people, or a company, or a boss, or a Higher power. You can have faith towards them, but don’t put that faith in them. Hopefully they don’t let you down, but if they do, it can be devastating if you believed they were the answer to your problems.
You are the only person who matters on this journey out of depression. Believe in yourself. That’s the only type of faith that matters.