Ten years ago this month, I woke up and realized that the world had just a little more color in it. I had been clinically depressed for a few years after my divorce. And while it took many more months for me to feel like I had actually come out the other side, I actually remember the moment I realized that I was going to get better. I remember the hotel, and even the room I was in.
Depression takes many forms, and can vary from mild to deep.
I still worry that this dark monster will return, and I try to be aware of it. I’m grateful that I came out of it in reasonable condition. In the ten years since that day, I have lost a handful of friends and acquaintances to suicide, including my brother Arlan.
At the same time, I’ve talked to many people over the years who faced their depression and kept it at bay. When people are willing to talk about their experience, I always ask what they think worked for them. Guess what? There aren’t a lot of surprises.
Sometimes, medicine is necessary. I had to try a few until I found one that worked. But there are also non-medical behaviors that go a long way.
For me, and several people I’ve talked to, the behaviors that help the most are exercise (even five mintues a day), a healthy diet, meditation, and a good night’s sleep. But the most important fact is the one you most DON’T want to do: Get out of the house and be with friends.
The reason depression is a monster is that it makes you feel like you have no energy for the things that will help you the most. It makes you not want to talk about it. It works to prevent you from getting better. Ultimately, that’s why it can be so hard to fight. The biggest overall symptom is keeping you from doing all the little things that will make you feel better.
I certainly don’t celebrate the anniversary of my revelation, but I do honor the moment that I realized it could end.
If you feel depressed, please do yourself a favor and talk to someone. We all love to give advice and we all love to resist the advice we receive. But the process of simply talking to someone about your depression can be helpful.
Thankfully, there’s more good information avail on the Internet about depression than ever. And there are more hotlines and free help services. There are many apps you can get for your phone. But most of all, there’s a lot less stigma around mental health than ever.
If you found this post because you think you might be depressed (or your know you’re depressed), please believe that you are worth the struggle. Talk to someone. Put depression in its place. You may never escape it completely, but many people do. And all the little things you do to push it away help a little bit each day.
Finally, I want to give a huge thanks to all the people in my life who forced me to talk about it, forced me to leave the house, and supported me by simply not judging. Even if I didn’t realize what it meant to me then, I realize it now.
Hang in there, my friends. Take care of yourself and the people in your life.