I am a bipolar disorder survivor and have faced around three episodes of depression. In this post, I have explained in detail the measures that I had taken to deal with depression and the steps I take now to help me maintain the balance.
As you would be aware, there is no one size fits all mechanism, and each person will have different ways that would have worked for them. However, there are some steps mentioned below, that I believe will help everyone, irrespective of the reasons and the type of depression.
Riding the Wave
I heard the term “riding the wave” for the first time, when my therapist used it. He said, at times, it is important that one does not question why the depression is setting in, and not panic. At the same time, it is also important to be aware of the change that is happening, and take steps to feel better. These steps should be paced out and done at one’s own terms. Further, it is important to realise that recovery from depression is not an instant process, and will take time.
Exercise is very important for a healthy body and mind. For someone suffering from depression, engaging in intense exercise won’t be an easy and achievable option. However, from my experience, walking for as less as 15 minutes outdoors, refreshes the mind immensely. Exercise generates and balances ‘feel good’ hormones like endorphins and serotonin that helps you elevate mood levels. It is easier said than done to get out, wear your walking shoes and step outdoors. However, I believe that it is human instinct to get better, and we must let that desire motivate us to take steps towards path of recovery.
Outdoor Activities and Food
Staying indoors and lying in your bed to deal with the condition is very common. However, our instinct to get better should push us to step out and go for a drive, catch a movie or go shopping. While I am recommending these options, personally, there have been more than once that I wanted to do these and have failed.
Being a foodie, food has always been my go to option when I feel low. Eating my favourite food was a quick fix to help me elevate my mood. However, it is only a quick fix and not a long lasting fix. I believe that to address depression, we should have a mixed bag of options, both short term and long term.
Open Up and Reach Out
I am blessed to have a supportive family and friends who have helped me overcome my mental
health hurdles. However, there have been a lot of times, where I have shut all of them out and stayed in my shell. That has never done me any good, and I used to sink deeper. So if your family and friends are trying to help you, let them in and take the helping hand.
Also, reach out, if you feel that your near and dear ones do not know what you are going through. Depression, unless it becomes extreme, is an invisible illness. So before you slip into the hole, send that WhatsApp message to your friend or give a call to your parents and tell them that you are not feeling well. You must believe that they will not judge you or make any assumptions. You must have your interest in mind, and seek help.
What I have learned from therapy is that it equips you with various tools to deal with a mental issue. In case of depression, it made me aware that I need to continue doing something in order to stay afloat. It is not the magnitude, but the completion of the task that matters. While doing this, we should not push ourselves too much, or blame ourselves for not doing or completing a task. Set small achievable targets.
Writing is one of the most powerful tools to reflect one’s emotions, and it is therapeutic. Journaling need not be just when one is feeling low, it can also be done when a person is happy and stable. Writing gives me more clarity and structure to my thoughts. When I feel depressed my thoughts get very cloudy, and writing gives me direction.
I was workaholic and had very less time for self-care and hobbies. Post my diagnosis, work only started becoming a part of my life, and not my life. Consequently, I started investing time in my hobbies and am discovering new hobbies. Spending time on my hobbies is providing me the balance.
I have always been a spiritual person. However, after my manic episode in 2017, I resorted to the spiritual route more than earlier. During severe depression, spirituality was a huge anchor for me. Beyond dealing with depression, spirituality has also brought a lot of discipline in my life.
Meditation is another tool that has helped me maintain my stability. I feel a sense of calm and serenity after spending that 5 minutes meditating. It invigorates your mind and body.
Be Nice to yourself
“Be nice to yourself”, this is the most important lesson that I am learning in the last one year. I always believed in pushing myself. I used to feel extremely disappointed when I did not perform to my expectations. I started learning through therapy and from my family that it is important to cut yourself slack.
This mantra is even more important when you are in depression because you might not be performing to your expectations. It is important that we realise that ‘it is ok to be not ok’ and be nice to yourself.
Depression is not the end of the road, it is a small bump in the road. My therapist constantly reminds me to be confident that it will get better. I think that belief is very important. Please remember that there is always light at the end of the tunnel. However, we cannot just be lying there in the dark hoping that there will be light. We will need to slowly pick ourselves up and walk towards the light.
I hope through this post, I was able to shed some light and guide you towards the end of the tunnel.
About the Author~
Advocate Meera Sreekumar
She Blogs at: The Wholesome Living
We are proud to have Meera as part of our Peer Support Community!