We all have different ways in which we cope. Tragedy can often leave the strongest people on their knees, resulting in desperate attempts to do something, anything, to make whatever pain they’re feeling go away. Even if it’s temporary. Some of these things however, can be destructive. They can develop habits that walk next to them for the rest of their life. Have you ever lost someone who you loved? How far did you go to numb that pain? If you’re one of the people who has experienced this already, can you remember what that felt like? The complete loss of care or self worth, filled with sadness, grief, maybe even anger? And at the time there’s nothing anyone can really say to help or make those feelings go away. It’s something that takes time. But in time you learn to live with the fact that they are gone, and you do little things to remember them by. To carry their legacy, you move forward.

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Now, imagine feeling that kind of helplessness a little more regularly. I won’t go as far to say that depression feels like the loss of a loved one, but I mean it when I say at times it does. It feels like a piece of you is missing. And when that feeling of helplessness and grief continues for extensive periods of time people can begin to seek means of numbing themselves. Drugs and alcohol probably come to mind first. But there are so many others that sometimes aren’t even realized. Sex, binge eating, and extensive use of finances and materialistic things can all be methods in which people cope to numb feelings they have (or feelings they don’t have, apathy is also all too common). I hope to start posts entitled Coping, with different entries either by me (personal or researched) or guest writers about what they do to cope with different mental illnesses. My biggest one personally is depression, so here it goes.

Entry 1: Often times I’m asked what it feels like when the depression hits. Is it just sadness? Do you just want to isolate yourself and be alone? I mean yes, it is. But theres so much more. It feels like there’s a hand inside of my head that is pulling on the back of both of my eyes, slowly encasing me in myself. It makes you feel like you want to cry, but for me, no tears ever come. It’s like there’s a black hole sitting in the middle of my chest that is sucking any little bit of life that I have out of me. From the tips of my fingers to the bottom of my feet, I feel everything start to retract. And I go numb. It can happen when I’m in a room full of laughing people who I could consider my best friends. And out of no where it’ll hit me like a truck. And often times all I can do is watch as the truck approaches, caught like a deer in the headlights. I’ll start to slip. And my mind feels heavy with pressure as doubts flood in and I start to question even the most concrete parts of my life.

 Am I actually a good friend?

Does my girlfriend actually like me?

Have I let my family down? 

Now multiply this times a hundred and you get a lot of sleepless nights. I shut down. I often joke around that I feel like a robot. Programmed to go through the motions and react to things a certain way but I stopped feeling genuine. Especially when I was in those droughts when the depression was harder. I’d be lying if I said I enjoyed this being a part of me, but I can one hundred percent say that I’m on the path to accepting that this is part of me, and that’s okay.

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When it comes to coping personally, I have a few methods I have tried and integrated into my life over the years. The biggest thing for me is to exercise myself creatively. Writing is one of the biggest ways to help me feel better. Getting my thoughts down on paper can really help me see two things.

1.) This is what’s going on in my head. It’s all sorted out now. It’s not so bad.

2.)  These thoughts are really irrational and I just didn’t realize it until I put it down on paper.

I know I’m good to my family. And I know I have a girlfriend who really cares about me. But those thoughts do pop in my head. No matter how irrational they may be. That’s what depression does. It tells you that you can’t instead of you can and that things aren’t working when they are.

Apart from writing, music helps me a lot too. Over the last 5 or 6 years I’ve been writing music and a part of several bands. Putting out two cd’s in the process. Those cd’s actually became the titles for this blog, Dear Hope and We Must Be Broken. Both albums coverer a lot of personal struggles with identity and depression, and the music was a creative way for me to outlet a lot of what I was feeling in a healthy way. Lyrics, poems, stories and music all became a way for me to put my emotions somewhere, and it’s helped me extensively.

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Scan The Sky released Dear Hope in 2012

Also, besides exercising my creativity, exercising in general tends to help me out a lot too. Which is unfortunate, because when I’m depressed this is something that can be extremely hard to do. It’s hard enough to get out of bed sometimes, let alone go for a run or start lifting. But here’s me being honest with myself for a second. I feel better when I’m being active. Even if it’s just a short run to clear my mind. I used to be an athlete all throughout high school and was in really good shape (not the case anymore) so sometimes I feel like I’m never going to reach that point again. I probably won’t honestly, but I need to look at it as something that’s going to make me feel good. Even if I’m not into the full hardcore fitness anymore. Exerting those emotions and sadness into a physical burning when you’re working out can help extinguish some of those heavy feelings.

And as hard as it is to do sometimes. Being around people is often the best cure. Having a strong support group is something that I have been blessed with and believe me when I say there are days I want to stay in my room with the lights off and have no one talk to me. I want to isolate myself and just stay in the sadness. It’s familiar. It’s comfortable. It has become something I’ve gotten so used to that I just accept it sometimes without trying to fight. But on the occasions I do, and force myself around friends and laughter, sometimes I can snap myself out of it.

These are the positive ways in which I cope. But I have had my share of negatives. There was a cutting incident when I was thirteen back when I had less of a grip on what depression was and what I was feeling that I regret. I think it was more a call for help than anything else. I try my best to stay away from drugs and alcohol or binging on either. I try and live life without a crutch, and I want to be able to say that I can be comfortable with who I am before doing something to numb me. But again, I’d be lying if I said I hadn’t drank to numb before. A last one is food. Food is always my weakness. In fact, it’s one of the only senses I can still feel when I’m depressed. Often I’m reduced to an apathetic state and taste is the only thing that still works. So I eat. And eat. And eat. What can I say, I love food. Even when I’m not depressed. But I do realize how unhealthy this is. And I’m trying to be better with it. And I think that’s the important thing to remember. Be aware of your pain, and be aware of how you cope. In the heat of the moment it can be hard to care if the choice is a negative or positive one, but when you keep it in the back of your head you get stronger everyday. I fight almost daily still, but I’m getting better. I know I am. Here’s a picture of me (left) with one of my best friends the other night celebrating my 21st birthday. Not the best picture quality wise but I love it none the less.

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You are loved. Feel free to comment below with how you cope, or if any of these methods have worked for you personally.

PF

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36 comments

  1. “I want to isolate myself and just stay in the sadness. It’s familiar. It’s comfortable. It has become something I’ve gotten so used to that I just accept it sometimes without trying to fight. ”

    I know EXACTLY what you mean! Well worded!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Paul I love that you’re doing this and putting it all out there. I know it can’t be easy but it’s great for people to know in some way what mental illness is like.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. A very honest, real and heartfelt account. Thank you for sharing.

    What I can honestly take from this is that you are an incredibly strong and bright young man. KNOWING the things you know and feeling that you can (and want to) express them is so very important. I would hope that you take the words you’ve written above and live by them…today and in the future. Know your pains, your weaknesses and know your supports most of all! All too often we forget (especially in the worst of times) that there are things and people that can help and support us. Be your best friend…believe in yourself and always remember that there is someone that would be more than willing to lend an ear or hand in a time of need.

    I lost an incredible friend to suicide a few years ago. He was a joy to be around, someone I had known nearly all my life. He would give anyone the shirt off his back and always had a smile on his face. He lit up a room the moment in walked through the door. Little did I know he was dying inside. Had he only asked any one of his million friends for help, an army would’ve stepped up to assist him. But, he was alone. No one should feel that way. That said, keep being you but remember that there is always someone that thinks the world of you…even in your darkest hour and even when you’re at the lowest of lows. I, too, have been there…one day at a time. YOU ARE LOVED. You are worthy of that love…from others AND from yourself.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. This comment just almost made me cry, thank you so much for your kind words. I’m glad you were able to connect with these words and sincerely appreciate your comments. I’m so sorry to hear about your friend, my condolences. All too often the ones who are the quickest to help someone else are the ones who are suffering the most, or who have been at rock bottom before. Many suffer alone in the quiet and it’s so important that we be aware and make this knowledge more common. You too are loved. Thank you.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Such a powerful post Paul,

    As a counselor, I always recommend exercise and activity multiple times a week to increase serotonin levels in the brain. Spending time in nature and looking at the natural beauty that the world has given us can also provide us with a sense of security and hope. Camomeal Tea and calming remedies before bedtime and during those times its hard to fall asleep or to stay asleep.

    As you know, writing is also a very powerful way of coping, as it provides us with a space to spill all of our thoughts and emotions out of our bodies. I also recommend cognitive re-framing of our thoughts ( as you described), and try to find evidence for and against them to provide us with a more broad perspective of an event or belief. (Refer to Cognitive Behavioral Therapy)

    When we become more compassionate to ourselves, and less hard on ourselves, we begin to feel more whole. we are only human that is, and we all make mistakes on multiple levels. Every time we have a negative judgement or thought toward ourselves, it is best to take note of that and then provide empathy and compassion to ourselves, as if we were talking to a younger child. None of us are perfect but we are unique, creative, and have a lot to offer in this world if we listen to our hearts and learn to love ourselves.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Jess! It would be helpful to have someone like you in the community to offer insight that is in your field! Please give the blog a follow, we’d love to have you here =). And sincerely, thank you for your words. They mean a lot.

      Like

  5. I haven’t seen you since I transferred from Westfield but I’ve seen your Facebook posts about this blog and I just had to comment. I’m so incredibly impressed with this and your courage to be open and honest about depression. When I’m struggling with anxiety, I often find myself wondering why everyone is happy but me. It’s taken me years of slowly opening up about what I struggle with to find out that I’m not alone. I think it’s so crucial to get these kinds of blogs out there and really start an honest conversation about the internal battle many of us face. Thank you for this.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank’s Kali! I hope all is well! Thanks for reading, give the blog a follow if you want to join the community, and share if you see fit =). I agree this is a conversation that needs to be had and more common, too many people feel too alone in these fights, and that should never be the case.

      Like

  6. I like what you’re doing with this project.

    You’re writing with clarity and honesty (Aristotle would approve!) and in the process generating interaction and community (now Socrates is happy, too!).

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for checking it out, feel free to give the blog a follow and join the community! Your insight and personal experience with bipolar would be a great asset to some people with less experience.

      Like

      1. if you ever need a guest blogger let me know and I will do the same:) I can reblog from my archives if you want to look them over or come up with something new:)

        Like

  7. So much to “like” about this post. Coping takes practice and doesn’t happen overnight. I am working through a lot of inner turmoil, it is a never-ending task, but I’ve been fortunate to have a lot of loving caring people in my life to help me pick myself up when I fall.

    This is a great series, I’m glad that our blogs have crossed paths.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I hope on expanding this series even more with guest writers! It’s true these things never go away, but we learn to cope and adjust as life goes on. Hopefully, one day, people won’t be as scared to share their story. Thanks for reading =)

      Liked by 1 person

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