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How I Deal With Depression

Photo by Nicolas Fuentes
Turn my sorrow into treasured gold. ~Adele

Three years ago I was depressed. I couldn’t stop crying over the mistakes I had made, and I was trying to dig myself out of a dark hole. I couldn’t breathe, I couldn’t go back and the only way I saw out was through death. I wanted it to be over, and I couldn’t see how I was going to live with myself.

I went to a doctor for a checkup because my body was so tired. When I told her my symptoms, she immediately asked me if I had suicidal thoughts.

She saw right through me.

I didn’t want people to know I was so sad, but I also couldn’t hide it very well. It came out through my eyes, in the way I looked and dressed, and how I talked to people. I had a black aura around me that scared people away, and frankly, sometimes I frightened myself.

A year ago I felt the same sadness coming back, and I sunk into that hole again. I could get stuck in my thoughts for hours. I felt so numb.

Getting out of bed was the hardest thing to do, and I didn’t see any point in being awake. Thinking about my life paralyzed me, and planning my future felt too scary, so I procrastinated in making any decisions about my life.

Surrendering to the Pain

Somehow I realized I had control over my thoughts, and my mission became to stop them from blocking me from living my life. I decided to face all my fears even if they made me sad. Sure, it could make me uncomfortable, make my heart race faster and my body feel tense, but I knew I would always survive it.

Surrendering and letting yourself truly feel the pain while standing still is what ultimately frees you from the hurt. I was determined to learn from my illness and transform it into something good. I decided that the past can’t hurt me anymore.

For so long I was hoping that someone would come by and save me, but the sad truth is no one is coming.

I will be truly, deeply honest with you: Sometimes I feel like it is all bullshit. Just the other day I was ready to throw in the towel.

I was crying my eyes out in the dark at night, all alone and in a way it felt so good but my inner thoughts were so hurtful that I felt like ending it all.

Who Is In Charge?

Regrets of the past were causing my anxiety attack — all the mistakes were replaying in my mind. When I woke up the next day, I was still sad, but the sun was shining. When I observed how the world was lit up, I had this serene moment with the universe.

I was only outside for two minutes, but it left an impact on my soul; you know that place next to your heart that feels like it is glowing when you are happy.

Some days I feel like I am back at where I started. I feel so sorry for myself, but it doesn’t last for long. It is because I have become conscious of my thoughts and I know what happens if I don’t break the darkness before it takes control of me. I try to always remind myself: I am in charge of my life.

On a good day, I feel like someone is on my side, guiding me and pulling me away from the dark roads. I see signs that I am on the right path toward my goals, and I feel light and carefree. When you tip the scale from negative to positive, the whole world opens up for you. It sounds so simple, right? Here is how I healed myself:

Let Go of Perfect

I chose to let go of all the expectations I had on life and stopped thinking of what could be. I have to admit this is a tough one, and it takes a lot of practice to constantly remind yourself to step back from the control and let life happen to you, but I strongly believe that if you can master it, you will find true happiness.

I used to beat myself down because I didn’t have the perfect body or the right friends, and it made me unhappy to think of all the things I thought I was missing out on. Whenever I feel my mind racing toward doubts and negative thoughts nowadays, I try to slow down.

I take time to take care of my soul. Sometimes it is okay to just be you, whether you are happy, mad, crazy or sad. It is okay to just be a simple person — not so much a production of education, money, wealth and status. Depression is often caused by stress we put on ourselves because we want to get somewhere.

Realizing that you are an important somebody right now can be immensely liberating and releases a lot of energy for more joy in your life. Stop trying to get to the next stage; you are already where you should be here and now.

Find an Anchor

Go through all of your emotions, cry and be angry if you must. Let yourself free, get all the ugly out and set a date for the healing process to get to the next stage. Find something or someone to hold on to that keeps you motivated — it might be a sweet memory of the past, a fun plan for the future or a certain person in your life. For me something that really kept me going after things went wrong in my life was spending time with my nephew.

When I felt like nothing mattered I thought of the strength of the little guy and his lovely smile every time he came over to our house. Being with him is something that still makes me so happy and filled with love. I always look forward to the hours when we hang out. He is my angel and the one that makes it all worth it.

Whenever I have a bad day or life doesn’t seem to make any sense, I hold on to the memories of him. It can also help holding on to a special song, a book or a movie that keeps you feeling hopeful.

During those years that I was in the dark, I used to read everything I could find on Think Simple Now and other depression blogs, and it made me hold on.

I still log in every now and then just to refresh my memory of all the lessons that I have to learn. It is kind of like holding on to a promise from all the people who have been through tough times and trusting that this too shall pass.

Be Grateful

There are so many things to be thankful for. You can read, react, speak, understand and walk. Be amazed, and fall in love with yourself. Love everything about yourself.You are human. You are wonderful.

The way the body works is amazing. Your whole being is a magnificent mechanism that is more complex than any other species. If you feel like you can’t be thankful for anything, be thankful for your brain, your fingers, the way your body heals itself.

Thinking about how your right side of the brain is connected to the left side and vice versa makes me wonder. How everything functions in your body while you are only breathing is awesome.

Why stop there? Be thankful for how this world functions. One thing that really amazes me is our transportation systems — my favorite one is the subway.

I’m always amazed by how it works; there is a whole other world down there! Think about it for a second or two, and be thankful for all the brilliant minds that lived before us and created all these incredible constructions.

Start Dreaming

For me, journaling was a way to cleanse my thoughts and reset my mind from all the clutter. I always keep a notebook and a pen next to my bed, and it helps to keep me balanced. I write down my thoughts, dreams and prayers.

I started writing a couple of years ago, and I noticed that when I wrote down a desire it manifested easily in my life. Writing makes the thoughts clearer, and it is a way to release into the universe the things you are wishing for.

The key is to be able to let go of the dream and trust the process. Sometimes you might have to accept that it is not gonna be exactly like you planned it to be and that it can work out pretty well anyways.

Everything you need is inside you. There is not a special circumstance or certain state that you have to get to before you can be happy or in order for you to find happiness. If you can’t change the life you have today, change your mind this instant. Yes, it is that easy. Just try it.

My best advice would be:

  • Be in the now. Breathe in the present moment.
  • Hold on.
  • Appreciate the small things that make life beautiful.
  • Dream big.

And then repeat.

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About the author

Paulina Pano is a student in behavioral science who is trying to learn the secret of life. She loves to travel and is always planning her next getaway to paradise. 

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8 thoughts on How I Deal With Depression

  1. This is such a supportive and empathetic post. I really remembered what it was like in my last depression. As a person with bipolar disorder, I experience depressions from time to time. (There was one that was darker than all of the others but I save thinking about that one as juice for my blog posts, it was so dark.)

    I especially liked Paulina’s section on “Letting Go of Perfect.” When I was depressed, all I could think about was what a horrible person I was. Nothing I did was right — not the way I looked, not the things I said to the people I loved, certainly not what I did (or didn’t accomplish) all day. I don’t know how to wave the magic wand and make those thoughts go away but somehow you have to banish them.

    I guess it’s like the post says, you gut it out – doing the right things like eating right, exercising and taking your medication – until one day, you feel the sun on your face and it’s over (or almost over).

    If you’re in that dark place, hang in there. It WILL end. And sooner than you fear.

  2. Mr. Nobody

    I came across this article by pure coincidence. I have been in the state of depression you describe in the beginning for a long time. I am tired of always feeling tired and isolated. However, no matter what i try i cant escape this feeling of emptiness i have deep in my chest, some days are better than others and some are worse. I will give this all a try but i must admit I’m worried that it wont help.

  3. Thank you, Paulina, for sharing your story. I find that when I feel anxious, the underlying feeling is one of guilt for having done or not done something I “should” or “should not” have done. I think this is was psychologist Karen Horney called “the tyranny of the shoulds.” But as you said, it’s often about unrealistic expectations we place on ourselves and our need to give these up.

    Here’s wishing you much happiness. Keep on writing!

  4. Thank you for this post. Depression is so hard. I had a similar experience and the hardest thing for me was to surrender to the pain. It has to be felt before you can truly heal. I still have a hard time facing sad emotions and letting myself cry but it is so healing when I allow myself to feel the pain I am experiencing.
    The other thing I find helpful when I start to sinking into the black abyss is to simplify my life as much as possible. I cut back on work if I can. I cut out any extracurricular activities that are taking too much energy from me while I heal. I rest. I do things I enjoy. I make fun plans for the future that don’t feel overwhelming. And I take it one day at a time.
    If anyone is struggling with depression, it can get better but you will have to take some steps. This article provides some excellent ways to work your way out of depression. And most importantly, know that you are NOT ALONE!

  5. Whew this post is happy, and sad!

    I’ve spent a lot of time around a very depressed girlfriend, and it seemed the difference between us was that she got trapped in one emotion. we could be on vacation, and she wouldn’t be able to enjoy herself because she knew it would ending soon, and she had nothing to look forward to.

    The thing my ex never understood is that no matter how depressed you are, you can’t be depressed every-single-second of the day. It’s impossible, it’s like saying that a baby cries ALL the time.

    I guarantee that every baby knows how to cry, and how to laugh. The same is true for adults, and I used to make my ex laugh all the time, but in her mind she was depressed during our entire relationship.

    Whereas in my mind, when I laugh I allow myself to enjoy it.

    Cheers,

  6. Thank you for sharing this great and sympathetic article. These are really great advice and I completely agree of these tips. The best part for me is: Appreciate the small things that make life beautiful. Thank You again for this wonderful post, Have a nice day! :)

  7. Veer

    Thank you for sharing. Going through the thoughts, while reading your article is simply great. Thanks again.

  8. Beal

    Thank you – excellent post. It spoke directly to me, someone who has spent major parts of years mucking through depression and barely able to get up and face the world day after day. Life felt miserable and painful and there seemed to be no point in continuing. I have been free of the awfulness for a few years now, but need to always be aware. And Paulina, you make great sense.

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