3 Things I Learned from Living with Depression
It was as if depression shrunk me so much that, in the end, I found myself in the cold dark recesses of a shell. From there, I listened to the murmurings of the world from the depths of my loneliness. I even heard the whispers of those who judged me for my “weakness”, who told me to cheer up because life passes in a flash. However, my depression lasted five years, enough time to learn everything I possibly could from it. Here is my personal testimony on the dos and don’ts of treating possession.
Often, those who overcome a mental or any other serious illness are called heroes, and people applaud their courage for facing such a difficult time. However, those who have gone through them knows that they are times when there is no other option, there is simply no other way than to be strong and to make every effort not to fall victim to everyone’s worst enemy: surrender.
“Pain is not to make you suffer. It is to make you more aware. And when you reach awareness then misery disappears. “
And yet reports from the World Health Organisation (WHO) repeatedly warn us that the amount of depressive disorders increases every year. However, these reports don’t usually tell us how many people manage to get out of the sad pit of depression.
This is mainly due to something that was highlighted at the WHO congress this year. 7 out of 10 people don’t receive the treatment they really need. That is why the shadow of depression comes and goes, and when it appears people tend to resort to the simplest treatment: drugs. The best approach would be a more holistic one, taking into account a wide range of factors.
But, due to the fact that depression is often not properly treated, it becomes an unwelcome guest which suffocates our lives and messes up our minds. It closes the windows and draws the curtains on our hope, in order to achieve what pleases it so much: to make us captives in our own home. It is not easy to bring order to such chaos. Nor is it easy to get it to leave or to reduce its power and its poison.
However, even the most severe depression can be overcome with the correct treatment. And when we do overcome it, it usually leaves us valuable lessons for our lives.
1. Removing the stigma of depression
Depression remains a stigma. It doesn’t make any difference that we live in the age of technology, that we have access to so much information. None of that matters because depression is something that people don’t usually talk about, it isn’t an easy or comfortable conversation topic and sometimes it can even be a real taboo. One such taboo is when a mother suffers post-natal depression and cannot cope, feeling totally unable to care for her newborn child.
How can the people around her understand this suffering, when the most “natural” thing in the world is that you should feel happier than ever before? Furthermore, if we conducted a survey to find out what the general public thinks about depression, then it is highly likely that they would talk about weakness and giving up.
These completely prejudiced and unfair views often lead people to be confined in the prison of their own silence, fearing the judgment of others and the looks without understanding. This is how isolation is born, due to people with depression feeling misunderstood outside of the bubble they have created to protect themselves.
We need to know that depression doesn’t discriminate. It can affect us all without distinctions of sex, social scale or lifestyle. And one thing we should realise is that it is the strongest people who tend to fall into this deep abyss.
2. Depression never comes alone
Depression often brings with it some even more unwelcome friends: anxiety, panic disorders or stress.Many people describe it almost like being inside a plane that is about to crash.
The heart accelerates, the constant fear transforms them into someone who is unable to maintain control over their life, into a person who either barely sleeps or who sleeps a lot, someone who either barely eats or who, on the contrary, experiences an insatiable hunger.
Each person will experience specific symptoms that will give shape bit by bit to a dark kaleidoscope of infinite nuances and bitter sufferings. And then, almost overnight, the person ends up taking antidepressants to treat anxiety, beta-blockers to slow down the accelerated heart, drugs to reduce nausea and sleeping pills at night.
3. Treating depression
Depression can not be cured in a month or two. Sometimes we need years. Each one lives out his recovery in his own way, each one emerges from the solitary recesses of their shell at their own pace. It is like finding the way back home after having been lost in a desert, walking blindly around, without a map, without a compass, without strength … and without the hope of ever being able to escape from it.
- We learn from depression, but we also need to forget. Sometimes we need to leave many things behind, change habits, reevaluate certain life goals and, above all, forget the old idea that “I can do everything”.
- Overcoming this illness helps us to develop a much more compassionate inner voice. The voice that has now learned to tell us “stop, take time for yourself”, “stop thinking those thoughts” “there’s no need to be so demanding with yourself” …
“I don’t want to be free from danger, I just want the courage to face it”
Likewise, and we’ll finish with this, this compassion also allows us to make more contact with what comes from within us, in order to understand our needs and our limitations. And, of course, to always have the necessary tools to “keep the black dog of depression away” , as Winston Churchill once said.
Each one will persevere in what works best for him: writing, sports, going for a walk, reading, a chat with friends. These are strategies to cultivate daily, emotionally positive and healing habits of life that keep us afloat, save us and bring us closer to that type of person we really to be: the person who can smile again.