When I was 18, I was diagnosed with depression. I had cried half of the whole day for two whole weeks before my family friend nudged my parents to take me to a psychiatrist.
Medicines started, therapy started, I was very slowly improving. But I would get triggered very easily and Facebook was partially a gateway to distract me.
I would continuous share sad quotes and read quotes about depression and that would make me feel a little bit better (See? Not hopeful at all that time) because it would feel like somebody got my feelings right.
But frankly, it wasn’t a very good idea.
DEPRESSION AND SOCIAL MEDIA IS A BAD COMBO!!
Because when you share all depressing stuff online, people will obviously want to know what’s going on. And that’s fine, because I craved sympathy. I craved love and someone who could make me feel valuable. I used to literally tell everybody about my issues, all in the hope of finding someone who could help me.
In that process, you also gain the (unwanted) attention of fake friends and back stabbers and ideally, the rumor-spreaders.
Which creates a vicious cycle.
BUT UNPLUGGING AND DIARY ENTRIES ARE BAE
As my therapy sessions increased in frequency, my mom was specifically instructed to take away my phone and literally distance me from all forms of connectivity. Nothing.
Full zero contact with outside world.
I, in turn, was asked to write down all my feelings in my diary.
I would also feel worthless because I would always be on the phone playing Angry Birds instead of doing anything productive at all. Again, the vicious cycle. Again, I was taught how to follow a routine and how to distance myself from being addicted to my phone. I was asked to maintain a separate diary to write down how much time I was spending in various activities. Even if it is just nibbling my cheek and staring blankly at a distance.
Which meant looking at the wall-clock consciously and diligently doing my homework for the next therapy session.
And that’s when I realized the beauty of writing down things with your own hands on paper.
WHY WRITING HELPS
Because when you write whatever is going through your mind, you can see the transition where your thoughts were based on assumptions which aren’t proved to be true. And when you see what you wrote with your own hands, with your own eyes (reading it aloud is a bonus), you consciously remind and reinforce your brain to change the thought process.
Why paper? Because if you type it out, you can always conveniently backspace it all back. But if its on paper, you just strike it out, but you still know what was written before. Again, consciousness and reinforcement.
And that’s how I have been consciously unplugging from connectivity, when it is harmful.
But it’s true – its human nature to want at least some amount of belongingness and sense of security. I still do share my feelings.
Fast-forward three years later and now that I am doing a job in a city far, far away from mom’s opportunist snatching hands, I have learnt how to modify my need for someone listening to me.
Instead of broadcasting it, I talk (literally send them floods of voice messages on WhatsApp, cause, you know, backspacing theory)to a very selected number of real friends and supporters and belt my heart out to them.
My best friend is literally online every time. He’s pretty good at multi-tasking and dissuading me from depressing, impulsive acts (like quitting my job by making baseless assumptions about my professional inadequacies without asking my boss straight away. Or how about the time I was going through a no spend challenge and he bet two dark chocolates on the brown lipsticks I was dying to buy?)
But I have still not mastered the way to control my impulses. Well, not totally.
I AM STILL LEARNING
Whenever I feel worthless, I find food comforting. That’s okay, not that bad. I don’t go on full-ahead binges.
What’s bad is that it means overspending and totally blowing my budget off. Which means literally nibbling away my savings.
And not just food. Cigarettes. They cost a fortune if you are a regular smoker.
I’m still learning on consciously changing my behavior, but I can say that I am proud of the long way I have come since then.
MY SUGGESTIONS TO YOU
- So, if you are struggling with depression, go to a doctor. That’s it. I’m not a doctor, I can’t help you much in this field.
- If you want to consciously change your behavior, write it and NOT type it.
- If you aren’t the writing-lover type, talk to yourself out loud in your room. Hear what you say, and converse with yourself like this:
Me: I don’t feel good I dunno why
Me 2: What makes you think you don’t feel good?
Me: Well, I had a bad day in office.
Me2: What happened in office?
You get the drill. Be a soft-spoken police inspector who has compassion for himself.
And just know, that this too, shall pass.