Society has a strange way of dressing down depression, because if it’s not a physical ailment, it can’t be real right? but mental health and depression is very much real. You wouldn’t tell someone with a broken leg to JUST make themselves get better, so why would you tell someone with a broken mind that? We often think that because we always see people dressing up that they can’t be down, but depression is not a trend and it certainly doesn’t look the same on everyone.
Whether you’re a private person or a sharer, mental health has a stigma of judgement, criticism, fear and disappointment. And that can mean the shame and struggle to ask for help, personally and professionally. It can also mean facing an abusive relationship and other personal struggles in silence until you’re mentally and emotionally broken. Further, it means struggling to share your thoughts and feelings out loud for fear of judgement. It means losing control and losing yourself!
THE D WORD
Depression isn’t that neighbour you hadn’t realised had suddenly moved in next door whilst you were watching Netflix. It’s more like that relative that constantly borrowed money from you and never paid it back. Then one day at a family Christmas party, you finally notice that every luxury item they’re wearing could pay months of your rent. It kind of just hits you after building up in the background for some time, albeit with a niggling pain here & there.
The reality of chronic depression is that it is life changing. Trying to ignore your unhappiness and cover it up with temporary fixes is exhausting. Where even the mere thought of simply getting out of bed fills you with dread. When you lose pleasure in things you normally enjoy. When your confidence & self-esteem is shattered and your motivation is lost because, after all “what is the point?”
A WAY OUT
Being open about depression isn’t about shocking people but about sharing with people. The first step is truly acknowledging where you are and understanding that you are not alone, no matter what the wrong people want you to believe. Talking about things to the right people is important because living inside your own head can get claustrophobic. You’ll probably never feel more alone than in this period wondering how & if it’ll ever end or who to turn to. In the depths of depression, it’s hard to believe people, professional or otherwise, who tell you “it’ll get better” and although it can take years, not giving up means it can and will get better.
In this moment, I think of Sam Sarpong who I briefly worked with, Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain and the many others who didn’t see any other way out of their depression, other than suicide. It is heart breaking but it’s just as painful to personally know how relatable their pain is.
Frustration can often play the biggest part in the D word because of the feeling that you’re not where you feel you should be or have given so much and haven’t reaped any rewards. But understanding that our paths and journeys are not all identical or equal might help alleviate some of the pressures.
Those many moments of feeling like a failure no matter your achievements are all too real. Additionally, feeling like your efforts and work are in vain and questioning what it’s all for, can be mind-numbing. You ask yourself “have I done everything I can to make this work?” or “what more can I do?” and sometimes the honest answer is everything and nothing!
FOCUS AND FEAR
It’s important to reflect and evaluate your situation but equally important to not dwell on the past. Focus on the parts of your life that work for you & work to change or eradicate your sources of frustration. Sometimes depression can stem from a loss or death, understand that grieving is a personal process and there is no time-limit on pain. Never be afraid to overhaul your whole life because it’s the only one you have to live.
Even if you have to change everything from people, places, practices, habits and diet, in the name of peace and happiness, it’s worth it. Dressing down depression has never served anyone well, so it important to face the facts. The problem is, as a people, we’re often afraid to just let go. That is, letting go of the people, places and things that steal our joy or no longer serve us positively. Whether it’s from fear of being alone, being an outcast, being judged etc. They say the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. So, clearly the cure for this insanity is change, plain and simple.
TAKE THE TIME TO TAKE YOUR TIME
Taking the time to take your time will help you understand why you are where you are and then how to get to where you want to go, because ultimately you are in control. Appreciate that your journey is your own and that you are not in a race, Once you accept that the only valid judgement of you is your own, which should be made out of love and high self-worth, you’ll no longer need the approval of people. You’ll no longer settle and no longer work for the acceptance of others. Your expectations of people will no longer be sky-high, and self-love and self-care will be a priority.
Smile as you work on your self-improvement but stay weary of focusing on flaws. Celebrate your gifts and achievements and accept that people will not always agree with you and that that’s ok.
THE SMALL THINGS: SLOWING DOWN & DRESSING UP
Words may not always heal but they can certainly help. Talking therapies, lifestyle changes and medicines just a few of the powerful tools you can use to take control of your mind again. Seek help, from a professional if necessary, take time out, distance yourself from toxicity and take each day at a time. With depression, try not to overwhelm your mind even more and focus on the simple things, slow down, take a bath, dress up, eat, breath, sleep (a lot), read and find things to laugh at, but most of all… DON’T GIVE UP!
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