Depression is a life-threatening disease that should be talked about, especially in May, the mental health awareness month. I wanted to share my story with Thrive Global to spread the message of hope and to never give up. I know many of you are suffering from this debilitating disease and you are looking for a way to come out of it, desperately. I used to get so desperate for recovery that I felt like banging my head against the wall.
Depression is very much treatable, and we are not alone even though we may feel like that at times. We have people that are willing to support us. It is only that sometimes we do not understand their presence. Most of us undergoing depression are silent, but that doesn’t mean we don’t want to speak. I know how a person wants to speak up and how every time he falls short of words and hope. I have made it this far and so can you. Your silence speaks to me and to others who are willing to walk alongside us. The dark cloud of depression may appear to be monstrous and everlasting, but there is a way out of it. We can maneuver our way through the deadly trenches if we keep on fighting.
Prescription Drugs: A huge help!
One of the symptoms of depression is getting angry or demonstrating aggression. Mine wasn’t any different, and as I was reading in one of the articles, it is one of the common signs of depression in males. Even as a teenager I unleashed myself on cellphones and smashed glasses against the walls. It was sporadic and episodic. If it was the end of the first episode, I was expecting another on the same day or the next. I was deeply shameful on my behavior. Afterward, I used to regret every moment of it, crying from within the depths of sadness. The failures in my teenage and college life made the depression chronic and permanent for later part of my life. However, I found relief in the medicines.
Friendly advice is to seek professional help at the earliest after finding in yourself the initials signs of depression. As soon as one is diagnosed, we are on our way towards recovery. A diagnosis is the first step of the healing ladder. My immediate support took me to a therapist in my teens and later to a psychiatrist when things got out of control.
My doctors were very kind and helpful all along my journey until now. I used to get complimented in school as a student with the best behavior. This attitude helped me religiously follow my prescription charts. I never skipped or missed my doses. Staying honest with your medicine routine goes a long way into getting well.
My Work Life
It gives entirely new meaning when one has to work as well. Most depressed people cannot get out of bed or take a shower, let alone go to work. Therefore, the task was challenging for me, but after I got out of rehab, I felt the need to rush to work. I couldn’t have done it without assistance from my doctors and people at the rehab. They became my support and taught me ways to cope with depression. My medicines were mostly working for me except in the mornings. In the morning, I used to wake up with terrible anxiety. It was so intense that my heart was pounding like a time bomb waiting to explode. It was a time when I thought my life would end at any second as I could barely breathe. It is the perfect example of the physical manifestation of an emotional disease.
My first ever job (in my 30s) was as a receptionist at the same rehabilitation center. I never thought I’d be healthy enough to work, but here I was the face of a mental health institution with a smile on my face. My life had taken a turn in the right direction after a long night. From that day onwards, I found the courage to face my fears. My invisible enemy took massive hits with my bold steps, and it was retreating. I successfully landed multiple jobs after a positive start at the clinic. Even to this day, there are times when I feel powerless and sad. But I come out of it and don’t let those low moments lurk over me for long.
If the government kept more allowances just for promoting mental health awareness and treatment, it would mean so much to the people who are struggling with it. Even the medical billing services and insurance companies should give special waivers to mental health professionals because before we face any physical health challenges, most of us are at risk of mental illnesses.
Everyone should know this
I wish everyone knew I never intended to be mentally ill. It was never my choice to be depressed. I am just like everyone else except for the fact nature was a little more generous on me. It turned me into a miserable failure when at the same time it gave my peers happiness and success.
We, as humans, should be more understanding of a person’s current situation. I know it is hard not to judge at times. But saying negative things to people who are suffering can permanently hurt them. Before anyone of us passes a final remark, we must remember two things: one, miracles do happen and two, prayers are still answered.
Strategies that helped me protect my mental well-being.
1. Exercising regularly
My psychiatrist recommended 30 minutes of brisk walk on a daily basis. I can’t skip or miss it even if I don’t feel like going. I can’t give in to my fatigues anymore. It is my last resort and my final destination. If I want to get better and stay at it, I have to become a religious walker. I have been regularly doing this for many years now, and my body is much more movement-friendly and flexible. When I first started, I felt as if I am dragging 100 tons with my body. It was mentally and physically draining, but in the end, I am the one who is happy. The happy hormones kick in as a result of the rigorous physical activity. It charges me up and uplifts my mood.
2. Following a routine
We have to follow a strict routine, and a regular job helps me maintain my routine. But when I was hunting for a job, I had time to myself, so I put it to best use. I used to clean the house and do chores. I indulged in anything that made me feel a little less miserable. I got out and made some friends and spent time with them to feel better.
3. Avoiding Smoking
Cigarettes and coffee have caffeine in them. I had to cut them short. There was a time when I smoked like a chimney, but now I have restricted myself to only five a day. I plan on kicking the habit eventually. My doctor tells me it doesn’t help depression but instead makes it worse. Smoking disrupts our sleeping cycles and turns them upside down.
4. Counting my blessings every day
Thinking about what we have at the moment is crucial for survival. Paying gratitude for those little things in life makes us appreciate life in general. I am thankful for everything I have in my life. The things I have in my possession matter more as compared to the stuff I don’t have. I try to live in my present moment learning from the mistakes I made in the past and hopeful for a positive future.
My advice to all
Don’t ever let this debilitating, mind-boggling control you. You and I are warriors, and we will be the winners in the end. I know it is not easy to fight mental health. But please do hang tight to the string of hope even if the rope seems to be breaking with each passing second. Just don’t let go!