Handling Depression and Living Your Life

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It brought some ugly sidekicks: eating disorders, body dysmorphia, anxiety, issues with alcohol.

These Depression Quotes May Change Your Life

Loneliness, worthlessness, despair. All were my miserable companions for more than a decade. The good news is, I didn't give up.

I wanted to. Lots of times. But I didn't. And these days, life is brighter than ever. In the wake of the tragic news about Robin Williams, it's crucial for those who struggle with depression to cling to hope and life and the knowledge that things will get better. By sharing our journeys, we can shine on a light on an affliction that affects so many of our fellow humans. So, here are 16 things I learned in 16 years with the dreaded "D" word note: this list is not exhaustive :.

There's always hope. If you'd suggested this to me in my darkest, all-I-want-to-do-is-die moments, you could have just as easily told me that Inception is a true story or pigs are taking pilot exams. Hopelessness is a major symptom of depression, which makes it kinda tough to see the light at the end of the proverbial tunnel.

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But the light is always there. I can't expect to feel good all the time. Once I found good feelings again after such a long battle with depression, it felt like failure to fall back into any unhappiness or "meh" moments. But being human comes with a thrilling and vomit-inducing roller coaster of emotions. Even the happiest people have bad days.

Alcohol was not my friend. The mind-numbing effects of six PBRs and a baby Guinness sure felt like the ultimate antidepressant But the next morning always rolled around sooner than expected and that whole alcohol-is-a-depressant thing became painfully obvious. How I managed so many years of temporary highs followed by desperately low lows is a miracle.

Living Your Life While Dealing With Depression

I don't miss drinking. People who haven't suffered from depression have a tough time understanding it. This isn't a criticism or a failing on their part, and it doesn't mean they don't love you. It's just difficult to understand something you haven't been through. I've had plenty of loved ones try very hard to get it -- and they deserve serious props for making the effort. But I couldn't rightfully expect that they'd know how I felt -- just like I can't expect to know exactly how a cancer patient feels, or how someone who lost their child feels. All I can offer is empathy and compassion, and that's all I can ever expect from anyone else.

Self-compassion is key. I was my own worst enemy, always attacking myself for perceived flaws or failings or God forbid imperfections. I could offer compassion to other people and animals and even the earth -- but to myself? At least, not until I actively worked to cultivate a sense of self-compassion.

Lots of other people are fighting similar battles. When I opened up to people about my struggles, I was constantly amazed at how many shared them -- particularly people who seemed elusively happy and well-adjusted. Robin Williams and many others who are sharing their stories in the wake of his death is a prime example. In a society where image is everything, people are experts at putting on a happy face, but there's lots of pain simmering beneath the surface for plenty of folks.

I've never regretted opening up to others, and in several notable cases, it earned me some of the best friends I've ever had. There's a reason meditation has been around for thousands of years. It works. My brain was such a chatterbox. I used to shut it up via booze or food or other temporary and thoroughly ineffective attempts at self-medication.

But meditation has helped me learn to calm or at least dull the roar of my unquiet mind. Guided meditations come in many guises, and doing them on a daily basis has brought a whole new level of peace into my life. Social media can exacerbate a sense of alienation. When I was feeling bereft of all hope and human connection, looking at pictures of other people partying and having fun and beaming wildly was maybe not the best idea. If you have low self-esteem as almost anyone with depression does , seeing other people's expertly crafted and deliriously happy-looking online personas tend to perpetuate these feelings.

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This isn't just my anecdotal perspective -- they've done lots of research that demonstrates Facebook makes us unhappy. It stunts our real-life social interaction, it makes us envious of others instead of grateful for what we've got , and so on. Spending too much time alone is a bad idea. Depression made me feel like the Phantom of the Opera -- but without the creepy stalker behavior and awesome musical score. I desperately wanted to remove myself from civilized society and frequently did.

Living with depression: my experience

Of course, hibernating alienated me from exactly what I needed most -- the company and support of friends and loved ones. There is no final destination. Even though I talk about my depression like a dreaded ex, I'm not speaking from some unattainable pedestal of perfection. These feelings are all normal. And if you neglect your own health, it can become overwhelming. You can help them to cope with depressions symptoms, overcome negative thoughts, and regain their energy, optimism, and enjoyment of life. Start by learning all you can about depression and how to best talk about it with your friend or family member.

Depression is a serious condition. Depression makes it difficult for a person to connect on a deep emotional level with anyone, even the people they love the most. Remember that this is the depression talking, not your loved one, so try not to take it personally. In fact, this may keep the depressed person from seeking treatment. Have patience as you encourage your loved one to take the first small steps to recovery.

While you can offer love and support, ultimately recovery is in the hands of the depressed person. Family and friends are often the first line of defense in the fight against depression. You may notice the problem in a depressed loved one before they do, and your influence and concern can motivate them to seek help.

Depression Quotes That Capture What You're Feeling | The Healthy

Has lost interest in work, sex, hobbies, and other pleasurable activities. Has withdrawn from friends, family, and other social activities. Expresses a bleak or negative outlook on life. Frequently complains of aches and pains such as headaches, stomach problems, and back pain.

Or complains of feeling tired and drained all the time. Sleeps less than usual or oversleeps. Drinks more or abuses drugs , including prescription sleeping pills and painkillers. Sometimes it is hard to know what to say when speaking to someone about depression. You might fear that if you bring up your worries the person will get angry, feel insulted, or ignore your concerns.

You may be unsure what questions to ask or how to be supportive. But remember that being a compassionate listener is much more important than giving advice. Encourage the depressed person to talk about their feelings, and be willing to listen without judgment. Depressed people tend to withdraw from others and isolate themselves.

You may need to express your concern and willingness to listen over and over again. Be gentle, yet persistent.

Put yourself first

Remember, being supportive involves offering encouragement and hope. Very often, this is a matter of talking to the person in language that they will understand and can respond to while in a depressed state of mind. In the U. It may be hard to believe that the person you know and love would ever consider something as drastic as suicide, but a depressed person may not see any other way out. Many people feel uncomfortable bringing up the topic but it is one of the best things you can do for someone who is thinking about suicide.

Getting a depressed person into treatment can be difficult. Depression saps energy and motivation, so even the act of making an appointment or finding a doctor can seem daunting to your loved one. Depression also involves negative ways of thinking. The depressed person may believe that the situation is hopeless and treatment pointless. Because of these obstacles, getting your loved one to admit to the problem—and helping them see that it can be solved—is an essential step in depression recovery.

Suggest a general check-up with a physician. Your loved one may be less anxious about seeing a family doctor than a mental health professional. If the doctor diagnoses depression, they can refer your loved one to a psychiatrist or psychologist. Offer to help the depressed person find a doctor or therapist and go with them on the first visit.

Living Through Depression: Julia's Story
Handling Depression and Living Your Life Handling Depression and Living Your Life
Handling Depression and Living Your Life Handling Depression and Living Your Life
Handling Depression and Living Your Life Handling Depression and Living Your Life
Handling Depression and Living Your Life Handling Depression and Living Your Life
Handling Depression and Living Your Life Handling Depression and Living Your Life
Handling Depression and Living Your Life Handling Depression and Living Your Life

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