First of all, I am not minimizing anyone’s depressive state. I would never do that, as I myself suffer from depression and have my entire life. I mean as an attempted suicide survivor, that kind of speaks for itself. No one chooses to be depressed. But it’s what we do to deal with depression that can make a difference.
One of the most helpful things I did was be honest with myself. I mean the deep type of honesty where you become objectively aware of your vulnerabilities so you can understand the triggers that can lead to a depressive bout. As an example, I struggle with self-worth so I tend to give too much credence to someone else’s opinion. So if someone who is “supposed” to care about me says something I view negatively it used to send me down a depressive rabbit hole. But I have realized opinions are just that, opinions. They are entitled to have them and I am entitled to disregard them if they are unjust. If their opinion has merit, instead of letting it drive me down, I use it as fuel to improve myself.
There’s something very important to remember here if you are the type of person who struggles with self worth and look for it externally. Not everyone you want to care about you will and not everyone who claims to care about you does. That is a very important sentence, so please read it again.
Another of my triggers are when I feel powerless in a situation. This one took a lot of work but I have come to realize that I am capable of handling more than I ever gave myself credit for when I confront an issue, rather than just accepting I don’t have a choice. I always have a choice now. It may not be an ideal choice but I still had the power to choose instead of allowing a situation to choose me. I was in an unhealthy relationship. No matter what I did, it didn’t get better. I felt powerless all the time because I couldn’t change it and make it better. So I chose! I left and started over from scratch. It wasn’t the ideal choice but it was a choice and now, after struggling to rebuild emotionally, physically and financially, I know it was the right choice, albeit not an easy choice.
So my point is this, understand your triggers so when something happens and you feel yourself reacting in the way that used to take you into the abyss, you’ll be more aware and tell yourself to take a breath, step back and say, “This is a trigger and I’m going to choose differently this time”. If you know you’re headed towards a depressive bout, take action before it engulfs you. Call your therapist immediately. Go back and read your journal when you wrote about how you felt the last time you came out of a deep depression. Write what you’re feeling in your journal now so you get those feelings out. Personally, something I do when I feel like I’m heading into a state of depression is I clean or organize. It helps ease some of the angst and gives me a sense of control that calms my inner self. Then I try to look at things again when I am more calm.
You must learn to be a friend to yourself in times of darkness. So sit down and write a letter to your friend (yourself), that is struggling.
I know you’re struggling right now so please know I care about you and I’m here for you. You can lean on me for strength and turn to me for guidance. So let’s take a deep breath and figure out what we can do to begin the journey back out of the darkness.