Depression can feel like hell. It is an internal prison with no key and a lock made of your own thoughts. It’s a prison that you carry your prison with you wherever you go.
For most of last year, I was held down by a depression that twisted it’s way through my mind. My first inclination was to write that it wrecked my mind, but no, it did not wreck my mind. Depression has changed me. Anything powerful will change you.
If you are interested, you can read more about my experience here, Inside Male Depression.
Today I am quieter, more reflective. In a way, my mind feels quicker and more agile. But not all of it is good. My mind is quick to assume, quicker to cycle into negative areas. But I am also better at reframing, reminding and bringing myself back. I also feel more anxious as I consider my decisions and interpret the words and behavior of other people.
No matter how bad your depression, there will come a time when you can see the sunlight again, but your experience will change you.
Science confirms that it is our experience that changes us. Trying to think yourself out of a problem will only lead to frustration. But when you combine thinking and action, that leads to change.
To say it more simply: Depression changes you.
Said this way, it is stark and real. But it’s not all bad. Depression will reveal more about who you are, your mind and your emotions. You become more sensitive and you learn better ways to cope.
Lessons learned from a year of depression
There is meaning behind your moods. It may be to make you more aware of something, have you feel deeply or just make you feel something.
Some days there is no meaning behind your moods. Some days there is absolutely no purpose behind your moods. You just feel you feel deeply, and badly. On those days, you just feel and live to the best of your ability.
Depression makes you pay attention. Our moods get our attention. Hopefully, that will lead us to get the help that we need, get more support, and get out and get more daylight.
Sometimes you just think too much. You can’t stop thinking too much, but you can give your brain more to do. Being more active, exercise, reading fiction, practicing meditation, and being with people you love seem to help to slow me down. Thinking more about the life I want to have rather than my regret has helped. Remember that depression can make your thoughts into a judge and jury.
Don’t allow the depression to win over your routines. Maintaining control over your routines will keep control over your mind. Getting daily exercise, getting to bed at the same time have been very important to my recovery. They have also kept me on the same rhythm as my family, which helped me to maintain a connection with them.
Isolation will add gasoline to your depression. I am an introvert, and introverts are more likely to experience depression. Introverts value alone time and normally that will recharge, but depression can wreak havoc with this. I learned to open up and accept the support of people who care about me.
Make peace with people who want to help you. Medications are not the enemy. Your family is not the enemy. Depression is. Sometimes you need medications. No matter what, you need the people in your life. Healthy relationships are life-giving and will change your mind in a good way.
Telling your story is how you heal. You may think it is not working, but talking to other people makes your burdens a little easier to bear. It just will. It is true that you should not over-burden the people you love. For me, I did not talk enough. I learned that it really takes a lot to burden the people you love.
Some of this content is from my article Depression Will Make You a Better Human Being, but most of it is just from living through the longest depression I have ever faced.
Keep it Real
Photo by smswaby, Ogden Point Breakwater (Victoria, BC)