Depression and Her Demons.
For the past six years I’ve struggled with depression, and I can tell you that it isn’t always the same. You go through periods of time when life isn’t exciting or filled with much joy, but you’re doing just well enough that you can get up, live your life, take care of your responsibilities and most importantly, cope. However, every now and then the depression will really settle in and you’ll fall into what I call a ‘slump’.
I’ve been through plenty of slumps, where all day you feel like you’re suffocating, like nothing is worthwhile anymore and you’re struggling to cope. Everything is miserable and you no longer have the strength to pretend everything’s okay. Because the truth is, most days where I’m just ‘coping’, I’m really just trying to keep everything together, trying to ignore it all and pretend I’m fine. But after a while of this, it starts to get overwhelming and just one little thing can tip me over the edge. Sometimes it’s even just something someone’s said that I’ve taken the wrong way, and it’s not me over-reacting to that, but rather it’s me no longer being able to keep everything I’ve been holding together for months.
Last year, in my final year of schooling I went through one of the biggest slumps I’ve ever had. And you’ll know if you’ve ever experienced one, that getting out of bed and doing anything is one hell of a challenge. Throughout the year I took countless days off school and many other days I had to leave school early because I couldn’t cope. All I wanted to do was go home, lay in bed, cry and let it all out. I couldn’t focus on anything. Often I’d sit in class and just stare into space, feeling empty and numb. Everyday was a count down for me, just waiting until I never had to go back. I kept telling myself that I could make it, “just two more months… just one more week”, and eventually I got through it. But as the year went on I got worse and worse, and my care factor went down. By the time exams were coming around I couldn’t study, and frankly I didn’t have the energy to even care. I tried to study but when you’re suffocating, all you care about is trying to get through the day. I would sit at my desk at home trying to focus, trying to do something. But I’d keep finding myself going back to bed, waiting for the day to be over. Still, I showed up to my exams, I did what I could and I survived the slump. That, in my books, is a win. I may not have been able to give it my all, but I’m still here, breathing, living another day. Luckily for me without studying I was able to get decent results, enough to get me into my university course… of which I later dropped out of, but that’s another story.
Post school-life is no different, though I was hoping it would be. Slumps continue to come and go. In fact, I’m coming out of my latest slump. What you have to realise, and something I have to continuously remind myself of, is that it won’t last forever; ‘this too shall pass’. Even though you feel like you’re falling apart and this feeling is never-ending, nothing lasts forever. And if you’ve already had slumps in the past, then you should know that too... because those slumps ended, and so will this one. So take a day or two to yourself, or even a week, lay in bed, eat good food, watch whatever Netflix series you’re currently on and be with it. Sometimes you just need to let yourself feel it all. But eventually you have to get back up and dust yourself off again. It’s never easy, but it’s do-able.
It’s always going to be hard, but remember: you’re strong enough to rise from this.
No matter how much you just want to stay in bed, get up and do things you know are good for you, bed will always be there, it’s not going anywhere. Get up, go to that appointment you have, see that friend, complete that workout. Don’t let your life stop.
I go to the gym a lot because all I have to do during that time is focus on my workout, nothing else. It gives me time to breathe, take some time to myself and not worry about a thing in the world. During my slumps, going to the gym is the last thing I have any energy for, but I get up and I go. I never let myself take more than a few days off, because I know how much it benefits me mentally, even when I don’t feel like it. You have to try and mother yourself, push yourself to get things done. It takes a lot of discipline and it’s a learning process but if you can make yourself do just one thing everyday then you’re slowly getting there.
Here are some of the things that I think are important to do for yourself during these difficult times:
- Let it out. Talk to someone about how you’re feeling or write it down. Do whatever you can to let it all out.
- Look after your body. Yes, junk food makes you feel better for a moment, but fuelling your body with healthy food will be much more beneficial. Do some form of exercise as well and let those endorphin's rush.
- Surround yourself with positive people. During these times it’s really crucial to not be around anyone that will halt your progress or make you feel worse.
- Shake up your routine. Sometimes it’s good to mix things up a bit. Get some fresh air and some sun rays, read a book, go to sleep early.
- Help someone else. This can actually be a good way to get your mind off your own issues and lift your mood.
I understand that everyone is different and what works for me probably won’t work for you. Just try to remember that slumps come and go. You are strong even to rise from this. You’ve risen from so many things and you’ve kept going, don’t let this knock you down either. I promise you it won’t last forever. I know how tiring it is, but try to be strong. Learn what helps lift your spirits and consume yourself with whatever that may be.