How to Get Out of Depression and Lessons I Learnt on This Dark Journey
It’s very important to speak out.
I was in the middle of my kickboxing class when it happened.
One moment I was perfectly fine, albeit tired, and the next I was drowning in misery so deep I could not breathe without feeling claustrophobic. I had to get out of there, at once.
Fortunately or unfortunately, when I asked my teacher if I could go and buy an energy drink to recharge myself (which was both a lie and a truth), he would not let me go. But I could see the concern on his face as he asked me to stay (my face has always been an open book), so maybe he knew it was a better idea to hold me hostage at that moment.
That day when I finally got back home and shut the door of my apartment, I couldn’t even reach my bed before I broke down in tears.
And for hours after that I just lay there on the cold floor, still in my sweaty gym clothes, crying as if the world was ending around me.
That was not the first time I had broken down like that. After all, when depression strikes us, it tends to stay with us for months on end.
It was just the first time I knew what was happening to me.
The Case of the Forgotten Brain
In our society, we gasp in sympathy and offer condolences when we hear someone is suffering from a grave illness of the body, whether it is a life-threatening condition, like cancer, or a simple case of stomach flu.
Why then are we so nonchalant and dismissive when it comes to the health of the brain?
We don’t want to talk about it. We don’t want to hear about it. And we definitely don’t want to find out our family tree has been cursed by it.
That’s why when I realized I was depressed, I was too afraid to seek help from a trained psychiatrist. After all, I was raised in a family (and society) where discussing mental health issues was the most taboo subject of them all, and I did not want to be labelled a “mental case”.
And I was not the only one suffering because of this taboo.
One of my closest friends was diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder a few years back. Her parents still think she is making it all up just to get attention.
Another acquaintance was diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder and Schizophrenia while he was in medical school. And after a hiatus of a few years and many electroconvulsive therapies, when I spoke to him again, I realized that he is still in denial.
The list goes on.
Our generation has become the first generation where mental health issues, especially depression, has reached an almost epidemic level. And studies show that this meteoric rise, specifically among teenagers, has got a lot to do with the real-world isolation caused by virtual media and gadgets, the rising socioeconomic gap between the rich and the poor, and our increasingly sedentary, malnourished (but obese), and sleep-deprived lifestyle.
What do we do then when the world around us is threatening our very well-being?
How I Healed Myself (Sorta) Without Medical Help
As I mentioned earlier, I was too much of a chicken at that time to go seek medical help. But neither was I going to throw myself off a roof and end my life like many chronically depressed individuals do when the illness makes life seem pathetically meaningless.
So I did what I always do when I hit rock bottom — I bought a book.
Written by Dr. David D. Burns, M.D., the book, Feeling Good, caught my eye in the Kindle Store because it was a bestseller (still is) and had a catchy tagline — the clinically proven drug-free treatment for depression.
And though the book did not cure my depression (unsupervised forays fueled by your willpower will only get you so far before you stop reading), it taught me enough to understand the problem and gave me a tool that helped me climb out of my “pit of despair”.
That tool was journaling.
And the prompt was: find the flaws in your logic.
Depression: A Place Between Reality and Fiction
It is said that depressed people see reality more clearly than other people. And they despair because of it.
But that’s not entirely true.
Because while depression does allow you to see all the nastiness in the world more acutely, it also strips you of the ability to see the good. And this pessimistic outlook imprisons your mind just as strongly as it imprisons the mind of a dreamy escapist.
And the book helped free me by allowing me to see the flaws in my own logic.
For example, whenever I felt like nobody loved me (a thought that had the highest rate of recurrence), I would list out all the reasons why that statement was false. After all, my mother, sister, and friends loved me a great deal (and still do).
But it would still be another year before I could say I was mentally healthy once again.
And one of the biggest reasons why I managed to get out of it was because I was brave enough to speak out.
Breaking Taboos: How Speaking Out Can Help You Heal Your Mind
A working woman was a taboo not too long ago. And so was homosexuality and gay marriage. But we have managed to normalize these issues to a great extent now by speaking up and taking a stand for them.
The same is required for mental health issues. And we are living in the best century to make that happen.
Because the world is now more connected than ever before. So when an inconsequential person shares their story online (like me), they have as much opportunity to make an impact on the world as a world leader.
Plus, in my case, speaking out about my struggles with depression helped me in the following ways:-
1. It made me realize that the taboo around this topic was incredibly foolish and illogical.
All sheep-brained arguments are.
2. It made people comfortable enough to reveal to me their own struggles with mental health issues.
A conversation that was cathartic for both parties and which made us realize just how common this problem is.
3. It brought people and opportunities my way that supported me through my tough times.
Emotional support is important, especially from people who love you enough to honestly tell you when you are wrong.
4. It made me realize that my worth was not dependent on what people thought of me.
Because once I knew my own worth, narrow-minded comments about my mental health stopped fazing me, and instead, gave me a glimpse into the minds of the people passing those judgments.
5. It showed me that I was afraid of psychiatrists and therapists.
And once that fear became apparent, it was easier for me to uproot it because it was pretty illogical to begin with and had more to do with my inability to trust people than with their “supposed” level of incompetence.
Now it’s Your Turn to Speak Out
If you are suffering from depression, I strongly recommend you do not do what I did when I was depressed, which is buy a book instead of getting medical help.
But what you must do is speak out.
And speak out even more once your ordeal is over so you can help people who are still stranded at the bottom of the pit of meaningless despair.
If you found this article useful, please hit the clap icon below so it can reach more people and help break the taboo around discussing mental health problems.
And if you want to pitch in some more and help make this conversation perfectly normal, please share your experience with mental health (whether personal or witnessed) in the comments below.
I promise you, it will be the most freeing experience of your life.