How to use depression to your advantage

“brown dried leaves on sand” by sydney Rae on Unsplash

No I don’t mean by seeking attention like ignorant people think we do.

“ When stones coming flying towards you, you can do three things. You can run away from them, you can get hurt by them, or you could build a fort out of it.”

Depression can be a myriad of emotions, sadness, emptiness, anger, confusion or simply something that cannot be described, but depression can also be something very unexpected. It can be a stepping stone towards a great future, it can teach you the art of being happy.

As long as you’re living, problems are freaking inevitable. As much as one would like to deny it, every situation has its pros and cons. We label something as a problem when all we see are it’s negative aspects. Sure those aspects require some fixing up, but with depression, a lot of perceived problems exist only in our minds or in our memories. There is little one can physically fix, and a lot one can fix mentally.

Demons of depression like low self-esteem, doubtfulness, negative voices all haunt us from within us.

“ The pain in those tears,
dampen the pillow covers,
drain you to sleep.
you fight the unknown opponent,
who lurks somewhere in your mortal being.
As the world shuts off before you,
you fall into a world where nothing exists,
neither you, nor you’re ache”

“girl leaning on glass fish tank raising her two hands” by Bekah Russom on Unsplash

As much as doctors love reducing your depression to chemical imbalance, you’re body is a genius piece of creation. Now I’m no doctor, but pretty much nothing happens in your body for no damned reason at all. Depression according to me, is a coping mechanism.

When you get fever, that’s you’re body trying to tell you that you’re infected. When a physical wound hurts, it’s you’re body warning you that you need to get away from the source of harm and help yourself.

Depression is one illness that takes away exactly what is needed the most in order for you to help yourself out- motivation. It forces you to remain stagnant, do as little physical work as possible, isolate yourself, remain stuck amongst your thoughts and ruminate till you drown in the pit of your imagination.

I would like to say it’s way beyond plain malfunctioning of your brain. Your brain is forcing you to leave everything, disabling you from being able to do most of the things so that the only thing you can do is ponder like crazy about yourself and your life.

“Without reflection, we go blindly on our way, creating more unintended consequences, and failing to achieve anything useful.”
— Margaret J. Wheatley
“woman praying” by Ben White on Unsplash

What your thoughts say

If you ever tried meditating, you know how hard it is to control your thoughts. Sure you can think about something else, but unless it is more appealing, you are going to have a hard time. It is important to focus on what we think, not only to note how it affects us, but also in order to realize what our brain is trying to convey to us.

Depression is a good opportunity to pause and look at what is going wrong.

Maybe we adopted a certain pattern of thoughts or behaviors in order to survive our pasts, but we no longer live in the past. The intrusive thoughts that depression promotes, helps us gain an insight about who we are, and what we want, but it is important that we learn what is needed, and move on.

I always felt the urge to self-harm because my thoughts revolved around the notion that I needed to punish myself. When I pursued the thought and tracked it to the origin, I realized where it came from, and how wrong an idea I had of myself. I realized how worthy of love I was.

As I tracked down all my thoughts one by one, I realized how none of them were me. I was just telling myself what I heard others tell me. I realized that I was none of those nasty things. It was a beautiful eye opener that I would have never witnessed if my depression hadn’t forced me to.

I would have never appreciated myself so much, fought for myself, and put myself first if not for that. I would have never realized how beautiful I was, how valuable I was- both to myself and others. Frankly speaking, my life would have been a waste of time if I hadn’t woken up.

“If only you could sense how important you are to the lives of those you meet; how important you can be to people you may never even dream of. There is something of yourself that you leave at every meeting with another person.”
— Fred Rogers

Resillence to pain

“person wearing gold ballerina shoes” by Sarah Cervantes on Unsplash

All pain necessarily is internal. If the emotional pain that tries to crumble us does not hold us back, nothing can.

Survivors of depression learn how to put on a social mask and appear to be alright 24X7. We learn how to carry out everyday activities in the midst of intense emotional pain without even letting out a hint.

Once depression took a back seat, I could not even believe how beautiful life is, how easy it is for one to be happy, and how dealing with ordinary everyday pain is nothing but a piece of cake.

People conclude that the you are weak based on the outwardly scars they see, or the few breakdowns that had come to their notice. They haven’t seen you walk through it all, with a brave smile on your face, concealing the battle ground in your scar traced skin.

“Your pain is the breaking of the shell that encloses your understanding.
Khalil Gibran

Learning the art of being happy

“girl sitting on daisy flowerbed in forest” by Melissa Askew on Unsplash
“You don’t realize what true happiness is until you have faced it’s evil sister- sorrow.”

Depression often strikes when we can’t find happiness anymore, despite that being the only thing we were striving for, indirectly. All this while we could afford looking for happiness in friends, compliments, money, outer beauty etc.

It’s only when depression takes it all away from us that we are forced of dig it out of every possible thing we encounter. It’s only then we notice that happiness can lie simply in the absence of pain, and sometimes we learn to find it in its presence too.

We realize that only our thoughts- nothing but a few words strung together, prevent us from being happy. One doesn’t have to wait for something to happen, the only thing one has to do is string together words that make us happy.

We also realize that happiness is overrated.Maybe sometimes just being okay is equally enjoyable.

“It’s so hard to forget pain, but it’s even harder to remember sweetness. We have no scar to show for happiness. We learn so little from peace.” 
 ― Chuck Palahniuk, Diary

“child holding sword” by Timothy Eberly on Unsplash

I’ll just leave you with a few lines to think about-

“my mind,
now a barren land,
left behind from the calamity-
that destroyed my destructive self,
now awaits my acknowledgment towards the sun- gold rays,
for my past now buried,
to nurture the next chapter,
of my unwritten life.
The ghosts may still walk the land ,
the winds might whirl the soil away,
the flowers may perish,
along with the birds and the bees,
but at last,
the land would be barren again,
to write another chapter,
that would be mine,
and mine alone.