It comes like a thief in the night, quietly making its way through your most intimate parts in search of what it can rob from you. That is depression. Depression doesn’t care how much work and effort you’ve put into something. Its only mission is to dismantle you at your very core. Only then will it be satisfied. It has no empathy. It has no sympathy. It has no conscience. It robs you of your joy. The more reasons you have to be joyful for, the harder depression fights to make its way into your life. Fortunately, we have ways to cope with it.
I learned long ago that self-care is of utmost importance. A major component of self-care is to educate yourself AND OTHERS about how your depression affects you, and ways you can overcome some of the damage it causes. I say some because depression is a chronic illness that doesn’t just simply go away. It can be mitigated, but hardly ever eradicated. Depression can go into hibernation but it will always find a way to make an appearance, usually during your most joyful moments.
Self-care can look different for each and every one of us. It can be in the form of medication, exercise, healthy diet, spirituality, meditation, etc. The question we must ask ourselves is, “What works best for me?” Oh, and let me not forget to add a very important factor to this list: stay away from negative voices! The world is full of complainers–people that tend to lament over their life but don’t want to find solutions. There also those who will make ignorant comments such as “Get over it.”, or “I’ve been through much worse and I’m not depressed.” Drop those people like a hot piece of coal and move on! Can you just get over having illnesses such as asthma, diabetes, or high blood pressure? No, but you can keep symptoms and flare-ups under control. The same principle applies to depression. Depression is a mental infirmity, and just because you can’t hear it or take a blood test to prove you have it does not mean it doesn’t exist.
In my case self-care consists of coping methods such as prayer, writing, listening to music, watching comedies, taking leisurely walks, and not rushing through life. I refuse to allow myself or anyone else put too many things on my plate. I choose to do only one thing at a time. I choose to say no if I know I can’t handle a task. I also say no if I don’t feel like doing something or going somewhere. I choose to not attempt to please everybody at every moment. And I do so without feeling guilty.
For any of you out there who struggle with depression I would like to remind you that you are not alone. It may feel like that much of the time, but that is partly because we tend to isolate ourselves when we feel down. However, statistical data demonstrates that “depression is a common mental disorder…Globally an estimated 350 million people of all ages suffer from depression” (http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs369/en/).
So, what are we to do? We need to do what is best for us! We must not listen to the negative voices. We shall cry if we have to cry. We need to reach out to someone we trust. We must pray even when it’s difficult to utter the words. Most important of all, we must not give up! We must continue on even if we have to drag ourselves to the other side. We must not forget all of the walls we have climbed over and own the fact that we are strong!