December 25, 2020

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Guest Author

Invaluable Lessons From My Depression

Depression makes you feel dark and gloomy inside, but when you are willing to face the truth about how it affects your life, there is a bright side, and the advantages may help you focus on moving forward. Dealing with depression is more than just dealing with persistent sadness and mood swings. It involves understanding how to replace negative thoughts with positive behaviors. For example, before I sought help for my depression, I would label myself as a failure for not reaching a goal, and exaggerate the outcome. Instead of dwelling on the result and letting negative thoughts take over, I learned to challenge my thoughts.

Depression makes you feel dark and gloomy inside, but when you are willing to face the truth about how it affects your life, there is a bright side, and the advantages may help you focus on moving forward.

Dealing with depression is more than just dealing with persistent sadness and mood swings. It involves understanding how to replace negative thoughts with positive behaviors. For example, before I sought help for my depression, I would label myself as a failure for not reaching a goal, and exaggerate the outcome. Instead of dwelling on the result and letting negative thoughts take over, I learned to challenge my thoughts.

Getting better is about reestablishing a better perspective on living — not just through positive thinking, but also by practicing behaviors to live better. I can't change what happened in the past, but I can move forward by focusing on the present and the decisions I make today.

Getting help for depression helps you gain knowledge. What you learn may be different from what someone else will learn. In my case, the knowledge I gained helped me realize I have the courage to confront my emotional hurt. I realized I wasn't the only one dealing with emotional struggles, and others like me have found ways to cope.

I also avoided certain things that kept me from progress, such as changing my way of thinking. I had to get into the habit of talking about my feelings and utilizing tools and resources designed to improve my mental health.

Throughout treatment, reflecting on what you've learned about yourself is crucial. It helps set the tone for the road to recovery and the direction to take in life. When you have a bad day or your symptoms relapse, what you've learned should give you strength and the motivation to keep making progress.  

Awareness of Your Mental Health is Crucial

For many, myself included, it takes time to realize you don’t feel well. Many with depression say they didn't know they were depressed until something unusual happened. For me, my moment was snapping at a coworker over a small issue because I was stressed about work and personal matters at home. My coworkers had noticed I was not myself — I’d been experiencing mood swings for a while. That’s when I decided to talk to my doctor.  

People may not know how significant the connection between their thoughts, actions, and behavior is, and how others perceive them. Emotions related to depression are hard to ignore. Sometimes I felt unworthy of being happy because I was so hard on myself about past failures. I didn't know there was a name for the persistent feelings of sadness, emptiness, and the overwhelm of those feelings at the same time.

Your mental health matters, and as you progress through your journey on the road to recovery, you will learn more about how your thoughts influence your actions. Your mental health includes learning how you take care of yourself (or don’t) and how you engage with others. During treatment, I gained insight into how events from my past continued to hurt me, and I learned to let go of the pain. As part of dealing with unresolved issues, I also learned about self-forgiveness.

Learning how to cope with depression includes identifying triggers or situations that bring unwanted thoughts and feelings, and learning how to respond to them. Even when dealing with unwanted feelings that have no apparent cause, it’s important to know how to manage them because your mental health depends on it.

You Reach a Vital Turning Point When You Want to Change

Deciding to get help isn't easy, but when you want to achieve a better life for yourself or others who depend on you, you realize your mental health is a valued asset, and that you're not going to see change unless you're willing to help yourself. Depression makes you feel like you're at war with yourself, which can make it that much more difficult to ask for help, and to stay on track during treatment.

I decided to get help because I was tired of feeling emotionally drained. I was at war with my thoughts because a part of me wanted to change, and the rest of me, seemingly, didn’t. My mental health is essential to staying productive, managing my emotions, and understanding my life purpose.

Deciding to get help shows courage and strength. Following through with your treatment plan by keeping your appointments, taking your meds on schedule, and engaging in a proactive lifestyle are reinforcements behind your decision to get help.

Getting help means change, but you're not changing who you are. You recognize your mental health needs improvement, and taking steps to get better shows self-awareness, resulting in renewed interest in learning about yourself.  For a long time, it was challenging for me to share my feelings with others because I had become so accustomed to keeping things inside. When I became comfortable talking about my feelings, an emotional weight was released, and I felt better.

Getting to this point and discovering more about yourself helps keep you motivated, so things move in the right direction. When you feel discouraged or struggle with unwanted feelings, it’s important to think about why you decided to get help in the first place. Reminding yourself regularly why you chose to get help can get you through rough patches.

There is Power in Telling and Sharing the Truth

Dealing with depression is challenging because you have to face feelings and emotions that hurt. You have to talk about things you don't want to be bothered by or reminded of when you’re working to focus on the positive side. You may have to deal with unresolved issues from the past. You have to learn self-acceptance, and learn how to stop blaming yourself for things that were out of your control. You have to explore your feelings even further, even when it hurts. There is significance in being transparent, and in truth-telling and truth-sharing because they help reignite resiliency. Understanding the importance of treatment and the recovery process by recognizing what you’ll gain is vital to your recovery.

Whether you deal with one episode of depression or experience a relapse, remember what you've gained during your recovery journey. The right treatment plan and practicing self-care through lifestyle changes contribute to the strength you need to overcome depression.

How You See Your Mental Health Challenges Makes a Difference

As you're learning how to cope with depression, your mental health will still be challenged by obligations and things you can’t control. When a good friend of mine passed away suddenly, instead of allowing myself to shut down in sadness, I knew talking to someone would be a productive way of dealing with the loss. Talking with others who shared the same feelings helps.

You’ll encounter situations where you may feel pressure or want to cave, especially during times of uncertainty. You may risk triggering depression symptoms. As much as you try to avoid certain circumstances, you know you’ll have to deal with them sooner or later.

It’s important to learn how to address your struggles instead of suppressing them. How you view life changes, and your approach to life challenges, leads to better self-awareness of your feelings and emotions. Some people welcome life challenges because they know they will gain something that may well help them in the future.

Feeling overwhelmed is part of depression. When challenges come up, it can help to focus on how to use your abilities to get through them. For example, I might feel bad if I didn't get everything done on my list for the day. Then, I realize that sometimes, for any number of reasons, I won’t necessarily get everything done, and what I do get done in a day is good enough.  Getting to this point takes time and practice.

You Are an Advocate for Your Mental Health When Confronting Your Depression

When I decided to get help, it was a personal decision. I didn't have support from others because I didn't tell anyone. I decided to get an opinion from my doctor after researching what happens during treatment for depression.

The right resources and tools will help you take a stand and regain control of your mental health. Getting help shows you want to live better, and that you're open to receiving help from others. It shows you're willing to give change a try.

Everyone’s Journey to Recovery is Different, and That’s Okay

Seeking treatment for depression has helped me feel better about myself. It has helped me be more aware of my thoughts and my ability to control them. I’ve met individuals through online and in-person support groups who’ve shared their experiences with depression. Some feel their depression was a life-changing experience, while others see it as a burden. Some have made drastic changes to make progress, such as changing their jobs and social circles. The wide variety of perspectives on recovery show that people can get help — no matter how challenging they think their situation is.

Depression affects people differently. Your needs may vary from someone else’s needs. While it’s  encouraging to hear how others who have been through treatment have overcome their depression, it is essential that you focus on your needs to be proactive in meeting your goals. And when you’re focused on meeting your needs, that may include encouraging others to get help, too.

As you get better, continue to find ways to keep growing and evolving as an individual, reprogramming your thoughts and ways of thinking. Remember, you are not the only one dealing with emotional struggles. Refuse to allow yourself to be defeated.

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