One: I Accept Myself.
This is something I have to work on every single day. I have a chemical imbalance in my brain, which means I very well might struggle with depression for the rest of my life, which has been something that has been difficult to accept for me.
I’ve already been dealing with it for eight years. And if I’m being honest, I used to hate myself for it. Sometimes I still do. Because, well, I have a good life. I have two good parents. I have an amazing husband that I consider to be my best friend. I have amazing friends. I’m beyond privileged. And because I’m still depressed even with all of that, I feel so fucking guilty sometimes.
But after a lot of therapy, working to practice self love daily, and choosing to only surround myself with the kind of people who show support for me, I’ve learned to accept myself, and even my depression.
You can’t run from your problems and you definitely can’t run from your mental health. It might not be all that you are but it is a part of who you are, and after learning that my depression doesn’t make me weak, but maybe even stronger than I ever thought I could be, I’ve been able to accept it. I’ve been able to accept myself.
Two: I Fight Back.
Trust me, I know. This is easier said than done, which is why I feel like a bitch for even including it in this list at all, but to a certain extent, it’s the most important way I manage my depression.
I might accept myself and my mental health, but I’ve also learned I can’t be complicit with it. Not ever. It isn’t fair, but nobodies life is completely fair.
There are days where I feel like I cannot get out of bed. There are days I don’t feel strong enough to bathe, or eat, or do anything that involves moving or speaking to anyone in my life. I turn off my phone, pull the covers over my head, and quit life. But now, more often than not, I fight back.
I force myself into the shower. I wash my hair. I wash my body. I do my hair. And I stare at my reflection in the mirror and remind myself that I accept the person staring back at me. Then, I live my life as best that I can that day.
And at the end of the day, I thank myself for being so fucking strong.
Three: I Speak Openly About It.
Shame often accompanies depression. It always has for me anyway.
I’ve felt guilty for it. I’ve been embarrassed over it. I’ve even felt whiny for having it. And at my absolute lowest points, I’ve felt like a burden that everyone in my life would be better off without.
So, I made the choice to be honest about it. I talk about it and I write about it, whenever I can, and as much as I can. Some people have accused me of wanting attention for it, because like duh what woman doesn’t want attention?, but that isn’t the case at all. Being honest and open with how I feel genuinely helps me. It makes me feel free, and strong, and even empowered.
I used to try so hard to be the cool girl who claimed to hate talking about her emotions and her feelings. I thought that would make me more likable, or edgier, or even—wait for it—sexier to men.
But then I realized that hiding who you are doesn’t make you any more interesting or mysterious. It just makes you feel even more alone.
Four: I Forgive Myself.
This might be the hardest lesson I’m still trying to learn.
I’m not perfect. Not even close. I am a human, which means I am flawed. I am going to mess up. I am going to fail. More than once. More than twice, and so on. And I’ve accepted that. But something I have struggled with my entire life, is forgiving myself for it, and even more than that, I’ve found it nearly impossible to forgive myself for my depression.
Remember when I mentioned feeling like a burden? Well if you can relate to that, then you know it really fucking sucks. So that’s where I start.
I remind myself that I am no ones burden but my own. The people in my life are choosing to be in my life. My husband for example, has seen my depression at its absolute worst, and he still stays. I used to be SO grateful for that. Too grateful. Maybe you think that sounds odd, but let me explain. I am beyond grateful for my husband. He is absolutely amazing, and I’m lucky he exists. But I’ve also learned that I’ve never, under any circumstance, needed be grateful that he ‘puts up’ with my depression, because it has always been his choice to do so. Just as it’s always been my choice to put up with his own bad moods, and his flaws, because even my husband, as amazing as he is, is not perfect.
And that was when I was able to forgive myself, when I realized that even the most amazing people in my life aren’t perfect either.
Five: I Take Zoloft.
After years of being told I have depression, I finally let a psychiatrist prescribe me medicine for it.
I’d been encouraged to get on a medication for years but I’d always been too afraid. I was scared medication would change me or numb me to feeling anything at all. I was even scared it would make my depression worse. But after I had hit an all time low, I finally took the leap and decided I had allowed myself to be in a poor mental state for too long just because I was scared to try and do anything about it. And what’s crazy is, it worked. The medication I have been prescribed was actually working. I couldn’t believe it.
It lifted my mood and increased my energy. It made it easier to wake up in the morning. It made it easier to shower. It made it easier to take care of myself. Of course I’m not just entirely better now but it has helped and I no longer feel like I’m drowning. I was so afraid I wouldn’t feel like myself once I started taking medication but it actually makes me feel even more like myself. And for the record, I know this isn’t everyone’s experience. There are people who go on medication and everything I feared for myself comes true for them, and I hate that for them. It isn’t fair.
But it also isn’t an excuse for other people not to try. For the people out there who are too scared to try and get help because of those experiences, please don’t be. Don’t be like me. Don’t wait until you hit an all time low. You might not survive it. Seek help. Please. Whether it’s medication, or therapy, or anything that makes you feel better, just do it. I would never tell someone they need medication. I know first hand how terrifying and disheartening those words can be. But what I will tell you, is that medication helped me.
I thought that I would be weak for needing it, but really, it was the bravest thing I’d ever done, and looking back, the best decision I ever made.