“There is a building on fire and I’m trapped in a room. I can’t get out and I can’t stay in – it’s too painful”.
When depression is at its worst you may feel like life is too painful to bear and there is no way out. You may feel trapped in your own head, and you want a break. You no longer like who you are and who you’ve become but you haven’t got the strength to do anything about it. Does this sound like you?
Mental pain is as real as physical pain however at times it can feel more debilitating. Studies have shown that depression is a debilitating condition that can be life threatening if not treated. People that have not experienced it may not understand how it feels and may find difficult to offer support or even sympathise. However, if you are dealing with depression it is important to know that you have the right to treatment.
Would you get treatment if you broke your arm or leg or would you just hope that it may somehow go away. Would you accept people telling you to ‘snap out of it’ or that it can’t possibly be that bad?
Similarly to a broken leg suffering from a mental health condition can stop you from living your life the way you want and deserve. Why then would you put up with the pain of depression but not a broken leg?
What can you do to help yourself?
If you are struggling with depression, that are things you can do to improve your health. These can include:
- Speak to your GP. Your GP can assess your mental health and help you implement changes that will improve your wellbeing. They may also offer you antidepressants that can help you cope with the symptoms of depression in the short term while you implement the changes that can help you beat depression in the long term.
- Re-evaluate your life-style. Are there things that are making the depression worse such as:
- addictions – alcohol, smoking or excessive work
- toxic relationships – negative people can increase low self-esteem and self-worth (they may say or do things that may make you feel that you’re not good enough)
- sedentary life-style – lack of movement can make you feel more tired and lethargic. Exercising doesn’t mean going to the gym. Going for a walk or finding something that makes you move your body can improve not only your mood but your health too.
- Lack of direction – sometimes not having a purpose or a goal can make depression worse because you may find no reason to motivate yourself. Having goals (small ones are just as good!) can give you that little push to get things moving. Once you get that feeling of accomplishing a task you may just start yourself on a roll and get the motivation to start another task. Start small and take advantage of the momentum.
- Get out more! Yes, I get it! When you are suffering from depression making plans can feel like you have been asked to run a marathon without any training! It feels exhausting just thinking about it. However, if you promise yourself that you will go and perhaps walk just one mile you may find yourself enjoying it more than you first thought. Give yourself the chance to experience new things and you may just find that little sparkle that will help you bring light to your current darkness.
- Be gentle with yourself. It can be very easy to turn on yourself when you are depressed. Feelings of hopelessness and helplessness can set in and make you feel like a loser or a wimp. This self-critical talk will only increase these feelings and you will find yourself in that vicious circle of depression. When things are really painful, look yourself in the mirror (REALLY look!) and pretend that you are looking at your best friend. What would you say to your best friend if he/she was experiencing the same pain as you are now?
- Give yourself a big hug. Once you’ve looked in the mirror and talked to yourself as if you were your best friend, wrap your arms around yourself and give yourself a tight hug. Then hold there for a few more minutes and say: I’ve got you! I promise you that if you do this with an open heart and mind, the feelings of despair and pain will ease up.
DEPRESSION IS NOT A WEAKNESS
It can affect people of all ages, race, colour, gender and status. You do not have to suffer alone. There is help available in many different forms whether through friends, family, self-help or professional (GP or a therapist). Life is tough and trying to go through it while suffering from depression can feel like an uphill battle. Don’t give up. You don’t have to as THERE IS light at the end of the tunnel. I found it and so can you!