For over 15 years, I allowed depression to slowly eat away at my life. I focused on the negative things that happened to me. Those hurts were my excuse to be a victim and my reason for not trying. After all of those years of pain, I found that finding the other side of depression is actually possible.
Even after years of therapy, I didn’t know that I actually had the ability to choose joy in spite of the painful things that had been done to me. This discovery changed the way I looked at my life and the role I have in how I battle depression.
Finding the Other Side of Depression is Up to You!
I realize that this statement is not going to be a popular one. I know this because there was a time when those words would have made me angry. Please just hold your judgement until you read the entirety of this article.
That person or persons who hurt you, they took away your choices. They denied you the ability to choose how you react to things. But you can take those choices back. It is hard work and you will work at it for the rest of your life but it can be done. There is hope! Here are some changes in your thought patterns you can make to start taking back control:
1. Choose to Heal from the Past
If your depression stems from abandonment or abusive situations in childhood, like mine does, it is not your fault. You are not to blame and it is time to give yourself permission to heal from those hurts. There is nothing positive about holding on the self anger that these things have caused.
This is much easier to write than to actually do but it is so worth it. It will start small with a decision you make everyday to choose not to allow those events to define you. For years I had to physically say this to myself every morning and on really bad days it was repeated often. I still have days when it is all on my mind and I still have to tell myself this reminder.
2. Choose to Find Joy
This one will seem like an empty statement to someone that has never battled depression. But if your entire life is wrapped up in feeling like there is a dark cloud is following you around, finding a reason to be joyful can be one of the hardest things you can do. But how do you choose to find joy?
First thing is to find something that makes you happy and do it! Volunteer at an animal shelter, help your elderly neighbors, have a weekly spa night with candles and music, basically anything that makes you feel joy will work. If you try one thing and it doesn’t stick, don’t worry about it just try something else. Keep trying until something lights a passion inside you. That passion will be a driving force on bad days for years to come!
These 2 steps, done over time, will help you find the other side of depression. I am over 13 years into my healing journey and I still use these steps every single day. That is the part that comes next. Giving yourself permission to have bad days and having a plan for when they happen.
There is No Magic Pill
I realize that may seem like a negative statement after so much positivity but it is the truth. Our society thinks that if something is wrong that you take a pill and it cures the problem. Unfortunately, like many physical illnesses, depression doesn’t work this way.
I am in no way saying not to take medication for your depression because I take mine everyday. Absolutely take your medication because once you find the right one, it will clear your mind and help you make the choices listed above.
But please be realistic and know that taking that pill everyday isn’t going to heal your heart or change how you think about things. Those are the things that you have to work on and you have to make a choice to do that. You have to decide that you are worth the effort and on some days that just isn’t going to be an easy choice.
Depression is an Illness
Now it is time to change how you think about depression. The beast that is depression is an illness. A person with Diabetes doesn’t take one shot and all of the health implications of the illness goes away. They take shots daily and even that doesn’t fix the problem. They have to take action by changing their diet and by exercising.
It is time to change our mindset and treat our depression in the same way. Finding the other side of depression requires this change in the way we think about it. Take your medication and take action to make things better. Allow yourself the find the other side of depression because it is a real place.
Make a Plan for a Bad Day
Now that you are finding the other side of depression, you should know that the work doesn’t stop. There are days when the cloud returns for no reason and knowing this will help you when it does. This is in no way stating that there is no hope because it “just comes back anyway”. This is just stating that sometime life is going to be hard and that it is ok.
I have a plan that I use during these times and it has worked for me for over 13 years. It helps my on my worst days and helps me move back into the sunshine. This is how I know that the other side of depressing isn’t a fantasy! Here are the things I do on my bad days:
1. Give Yourself Permission to Feel Bad
I realize that may not make any sense at all but I am not telling you to bury yourself in your pain again. I am saying that when a bad day comes, I admit that it is bad and I don’t force myself to hide it. I give myself a limit of how long I am allowed to just feel bad before I take action.
Typically, I will give myself 1 day to just feel bad. On that day, I can wallow in it, think about it and just feel how I feel and it is all ok. The world isn’t coming to an end because of a bad day.
2. Pick Yourself Up
Once your set time to feel bad has expired, it is time to take some positive action. For me those first steps usually include taking a shower and a little makeup. Just do something that makes you feel good like cooking your favorite food or taking a walk.
The initial steps should be easy things that just require you to do them without much thought. This is the foundation that you will stand on to keep going.
3. Keep Moving
After your first actions, keep moving! This is the most important step because taking a shower is a great step but I stopped there all it really accomplished is keeping odor from taking over. My second steps is usually turning on some loud music and singing at the top of my lungs followed by some quiet prayer time.
The point of this step is not to fake it til you make it even though it might feel that way. Guess what? That is okay if it does! Just put one step in front of the other. Invite a friend over for coffee or talk to a friend on the phone. It is very important not isolate yourself during in this step. Follow Dory’s direction and “just keep swimming”. (sorry, Finding Nemo is my favorite! LOL)
4. Get Additional Help if Needed
You may have done years of therapy, like I have done. But if that bad period stays around longer than a week, you should seek additional help. This doesn’t have to mean delving deep into weekly therapy sessions. This can mean talking to a friend who is a really good listener or talking to a pastor. Anyone you trust can be this “person” for you. I actually know who my go to person is in advance so I don’t have to put too much effort into this step.
These steps seem so easy when you read them but I know they are not. I know because I live them and I actively work on this every day. I have taken back my ability to choose how I feel and I have learned to take control over my depression. It is an active choice that has given me back my life.
My desire is that someone will find hope in these words and that you will find that real place that is the other side of depression.
My Mental Health Story:
- How my Mind Became my Enemy – Part 1
- How my Mind Became my Enemy – Part 2
- How my Mind Became my Enemy – Part 3
- How my Mind Became my Enemy – Part 4