I’ve experienced depression throughout my life starting as early as age 15. At times it was low level depression, similar to what someone with dysthymia might experience. At other times, depression felt debilitating. I felt like I was paralyzed. It was if I was walking around with weights on my body but no one could see them or even me. Dealing with depression can feel absolutely exhausting. I remember how tired I was, but it wasn’t that I was really tired, but rather my brain was tired. It’s difficult for people to understand who haven’t experienced depression.
In addition to depression, I’ve also dealt with panic attacks, OCD and anxiety throughout my life. In some ways anxiety saved me from the oppressive weight of depression, however it wasn’t pleasant either. Anxiety gives you no warning. It shows up like a giant anvil hitting your brain hard. You have to freeze or move or do both. There’s no right answer, because you have no answer to anything. Sometimes anxiety motivates me to do amazing things. It helps me complete projects in a highly creative way.
However, anxiety isn’t the only mental health issue that I manage. I get depressed sometimes. And during those dark periods, it’s hard to motivate myself to do anything. The counterintuitive thing is that in order to get relief from depression, one must begin taking actions. You don’t want to get out of bed, you have to get out of bed. It’s hard, stressful and demanding to manage depression. But I’ve done it and I’ve actually accomplished a lot while being significantly depressed.
For example, during an extremely depressed period of time I wrote an entire book. It was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. But, it gave me a focus to hang on to while I tried to manage feeling hopeless. There was hope in this book. Hope that I wanted to share with the world. Through my cloud of depression, days of not showering or taking care of myself, I was able to write this book. And in writing the book, it helped me to seek help and get well. Taking the action of writing was a step towards helping myself.
It is possible to accomplish things when you’re depressed and, in fact, it’s what’s recommended in order to move through periods of depression. It can be extremely difficult to take any action at all while you’re depressed, but it’s the very thing that will help you to climb out of the darkness. For example, when I moved to Portland recently, I was extremely depressed. I was on the wrong medications and I knew it intuitively. Through the depths of my despair, I forced myself to contact a psychologist and get help. Through contacting that therapist and starting treatment, she connected me with a psychiatric nurse who helped me get the right diagnosis and get on the right medications. And now I feel so much better!
I accomplished all of those things while I was depressed and hopeless. But underneath that bleak fog, I knew that there was something better on the other side. I got in touch with the part of me that wanted to get better and I did it. I got better from depression and you can too.