How I Stopped Feeling Depressed
For the past one month, I was feeling depressed.
I hadn’t felt that depressed ever since I left my audit job six years ago.
It was as though I was meant to experience depression again so that I could write this post and help those who are feeling depressed too.
How Does Depression Feel Like?
Most people think that feeling depressed is the same as feeling sad. But they are not the same.
Depression is not sadness.
One can feel sad when they end a relationship. One can feel sad when they lose a job. And one can feel sad when they have a critical illness.
Depression is different. When a person is feeling depressed, he believes that no matter what he does:
- he will never find someone he loves again.
- no one will hire him ever again.
- there is no cure for his illness.
He believes that there’s no hope in life.
Telling a person who is feeling depressed to have positive thoughts doesn’t work. Firstly, humans can’t control what thoughts entered their mind. Secondly, even if they do have positive thoughts, they don’t believe them to be true. The keyword here is “BELIEVE”.
Feeling depressed is like someone hits you at the back of your head and one of your muscles called“HOPE” has snapped.
Depressed people just can’t see hope.
And is not just one aspect of their life. It’s all aspects of their life. No matter what they do or how hard they try to be positive, they feel that there’s no hope. They feel tremendous fear and insecurity about living. They feel powerless and trapped.
And that’s why they want to die.
9 Ways to Stop Feeling Depressed
Before I begin, I want to say I’m not a doctor. I’m just talking from my personal experience and sharing with you the steps I took to get out of depression. If you have a chronic depression and you can’t resolve it, please consult a professional instead.
1. Aware that you are feeling depressed
The most important step to stop feeling depressed is being aware of it. When you know something isn’t feeling right, you can do something about it.
Those times that I was feeling depressed, I didn’t even know that I was feeling depressed at first. I only realized I was feeling depressed when:
- I couldn’t control my feelings.
- I was feeling anxious at nights.
- I couldn’t sleep well at night.
- I started crying uncontrollably.
- I had no motivation to do anything.
- I didn’t want to get up in the morning.
Seeing yourself suffered from a third person perspective is powerful. It stops you from going on a downward spiral.
2. Acknowledge what you are feeling
Depression is not a state you want to stay for long because it is dangerous and it could take your life away.
However, don’t suppress depression. Let all your feelings out. Cry if you need to. Crying doesn’t mean you are emotionally weak.
Feeling comes and goes. It will go away if you allow yourself to feel it. The more you deny your feeling, the longer the depression is going to stay with you.
And remember it’s not your fault.
You have no control over your feelings. You are not to blame. Successful and intelligent people like Robin Williams get severely depressed too.
3. Take time out for yourself
That was one night last month when I just couldn’t sleep. I was overwhelmed with emotions and negative thoughts just kept coming into my head.
So the next day, I decided to give myself a one day break and not do anything. My well-being is more important than finding a new job or feeling financially secure. I was feeling broken at that time, so I need timeout to care for myself.
4. Ask yourself questions with empathy
During that one day break, I talked to myself with empathy like I was talking to a friend. Instead of making judgmental statements about myself and my depression, I asked myself questions and dug a little deeper. I asked myself:
- How are you doing?
- What’s wrong?
- What happen?
- Why do you feel this way?
And I would just sit there and listen.
Having self-compassion is something so simple that all of us can do.
But yet sometimes we are so busy with our life that we took ourselves for granted.
5. Go to new places
People attach emotions to their environment. If you are feeling stuck or depressed, change your environment and change your routine. Go to somewhere new. It will help you see things in a new perspective.
I went to the airport and places I don’t usually go in Singapore. And that make me feel better.
6. Avoid people who don’t understand
Some people just don’t get depression. Sometimes, they give you advise that are good for people that are feeling sad. But they might not be necessary useful for people that are feeling depressed.
Talking to them about your depression might make you feel worse because it makes you feel like there’s no one understands you.
Also, avoid meeting new people when you are vulnerable. You don’t know who you will meet and what they will say to you.
I met one entrepreneur who commented that I was being vengeful for finding another job and not waiting for the animation studio founder. He also said that HR manager won’t hire someone like me because I don’t stay in jobs for long. He thought that he was being helpful. But I actually thought that was really rude and hurtful, considering I just met him.
7. Share your feelings with someone supportive
When you are feeling depressed, don’t just hang out with happy people. Seek support from people who are willing to listen and help you see hope.
When I was feeling depressed last week, I shared my feelings to my elder brother. Although it was embarrassing to cry in front of another person, it felt good to open up. He told me all the amazing things that I had done previously and that gave me hope.
8. Be really, really angry
Most would tell you not to focus on the negative. But being angry is actually my best method to get out of depression.
Being empathetic, I’m always able to see the other party’s point of view. I know where they are coming from. So it’s hard for me to get angry at another person. Plus, I don’t like to express anger at another person because I feel bad for the person on the receiving end.
Unfortunately, that also made me an expert at suppressing my anger. I wasn’t able to let myself feel all the emotions that I was feeling at the moment.
Feeling angry is the most efficient way to get out of depression!
Last week, when no one was at home, I started hitting the bed to let all my anger out. I was angry at myself, the founder, the situation I was in. Most importantly, I was sick and tired of feeling depressed. I was angry that the depression kept coming back when I told it to go away!
In the end, my depression dissipated.
When I felt much better, I decided to volunteer at my friend’s company and not stayed at home to look for jobs all day. Staying at home waiting for recruiters to reply me is unhealthy. It makes me feel anxious. So I chose to give instead.
Giving is a good way to increase your self-worth.
When you are able to contribute to somebody else’s life and business, you feel useful and that keeps you away from feeling depressed again.
Invest Time on Your Own Personal Growth
I’m grateful that I had invested time to learn about personal growth and myself for the past six years. When depression hit me this time round, I was more aware of it and was able to stop it before it gets any more serious.
So invest more time to grow yourself. You won’t know when you will need it.
Yong Kang Chan, best known as Nerdy Creator, is a self-help author, teacher and introvert. He helps people see different perspectives towards life, so that they feel loved, understood and inspired.
Originally published at Nerdy Creator.
For the full story, read his memoir, The Emotional Gift: Memoir of a Highly Sensitive Person Who Overcame Depression.