How do you cope?
A few weeks ago I posted an article entitled “Coping” that detailed my own personal experience with mental illness and depression and received a lot of good feedback from it. Not only did people seem to understand what my depression was more, but people who also fought began to come forward and share with me their own stories. It affirmed my idea that these things need to be heard, and have gone ahead to decide to start a series of posts under the name “Coping”. In this series that’ll be published every few weeks, guest writers will share their struggles, coping mechanisms, their lowest point and more, allowing us into the eyes of those with mental illness. Reminding people who fight that they’re never alone, and those who don’t fight with a better understanding than they might of had before.
So here’s the first guest post from my great friend Haley, enjoy.
There is no cure for depression. It will always be a part of who you are. But it’s how you accept its presence that determines the impact it has on your life.
It took me an extremely long time to accept my depression. As I was growing up, I was always the happy member of the family. I provided the laughs and made sure everybody was always having a good time. As I grew older, members of my family were gradually diagnosed with depression until I was the only one without this disease. And what did that mean to me? I was the only one that could always provide joy. I didn’t know what depression was: I took on the burden of making sure my sister and parents were in good spirits because I thought that they were unable to obtain it on their own. When I reached the point where I was unable to do this, I felt like a failure. I had let my family down.
I wasn’t happy anymore.
I will never forget my sixteenth birthday. My mom had planned a surprise party for me with all my closest friends. We had brunch, presents, a piñata and cake: at a time where I should be celebrating, I found myself near tears the entire day.
I felt detached. I was apathetic. With a room full of friends and family surrounding me, I felt completely alone. I plastered on a smile for the party but at the end of the day, I will never forget the moment I cried into my mom’s arms. I asked, Mom, what’s wrong with me? Why do I feel like this? And she knew. Haley, you may have depression.
I spent the final three years of high school trying different medicines, talking to different therapists, trying to find answers for why I felt the way I did. I’m supposed to be happy. This isn’t who I am. I refused to let my guard down and talk about what I was feeling; I refused to face this disease in the correct way. All I wanted was to be happy again; I was determined to find a way to cure my depression once and for all. I would soon come to find that it would take experiencing the lowest moment in my depression in order to finally reach a point of acceptance.
I guess “Bridesmaids” was right when talking about rock bottom. At the end of my first semester of college, I hit my rock bottom. More days than not, I woke up with little ambition to accomplish anything. Sure, I was studying hard and involved on campus but my body was simply going through the motions. I felt completely empty on the inside yet couldn’t shake this heavy feeling pushing me down. I felt defeated. And the only way I could escape was through physical pain. So I cut myself. (to read more about my experience with cutting, check out my personal blog)
I was embarrassed. I was ashamed. This was truly rock bottom. But I never would have thought that this negative experience would be the start of my journey in learning how to accept and cope with my depression.
After I cut myself, I didn’t feel any better; if anything, I felt worse. The realization hit me that my depression was here to stay. Instead of resisting like I had been doing for so long, I decided to make the most out of the situation. How can I work with my illness? How can I become a better person through it?
And there is not one specific solution I can offer you. There is not a clear treatment to dealing with depression in the best way.
Everybody is different.
Through my journey with depression, I’ve learned what works best for me. I’ve learned how to use this experience to strengthen my faith. I have always had a relationship with God but depression, for me, has been the first real struggle where I found I needed to trust that God knew that I was going to be okay. I have learned how to fully rely on Him, which has grown my faith, and in turn my spirit, in unspeakable ways. (For a more in depth look at my Faith, explore the blog attached above) When I feel hopeless and am unable to find happiness, I pray. I pray that I can find the strength to get through this. And I always do.
The world is still good.
Of course there are bad days with depression. For me, today was one of those days. I woke up feeling detached from the world, like I was just a waste of space. Although these days occur less and less lately, they still happen.
But there is still good in the world. I live an incredible life and this is a fact I make sure to never forget. Every day before I go to bed, I have picked up the habit of writing a quick sentence in my journal. I write the best part of the day: what made me happiest or something significant I accomplished or helped somebody with. Therefore, no matter how depressed I feel, I end every day knowing that there was something good in that day: there is something worth living for EVERY DAY.
Prayer isn’t for everybody. Neither is journaling. I’m not sharing this to tell you how can treat your depression; I’m sharing this to tell you that there is an answer for everybody.
You have your own journey with depression. And it’s hard to navigate through this journey when you haven’t learned how. So explore. Do what makes you happy and use this illness as a chance to grow yourself. Depression will always be a part of who you are. But you can overcome it; you can learn how to truly thrive through it.
You will be okay.
As with Haley’s story I can relate all too much to the feelings she’s had in her fight. She’s right in the sense that there is something for everyone that can help you cope in a healthy way. Writing, exercising, faith…there are so many options. It can be a bit of a trial and error, but I, along with Haley, believe that there is something out there with everyone. Keep fighting the fight. You are not alone and you are loved. Be sure to look out for more of these posts in the future. Comment below with stories of how you cope and join in on the community.
Also you need to listen to Haley’s voice, it’s one of the most beautiful I’ve ever heard. Check out this youtube video of us performing together. It’s three songs and I sing in one (skip that one, save your ears) and enjoy her angelic voice. Seriously, go listen. And don’t forget to give her blog a follow.
You are loved.