It’s that time of the year when the world gets cold and still, and with that comes all types of new emotions and experiences. As we continue to battle the COVID pandemic, it’s becoming harder and harder to deal with the complex feelings of day-to-day life. It’s no wonder so many people are finding themselves depressed and struggling to cope — but what if our depression had a deeper message for us? A silver lining we’re failing to appreciate?
We have to see depression differently.
Whether dealing with a long-help clinical diagnosis, or seasonal affective disorder aggravated by the endless series of pandemic restrictions and lockdowns — depression is a serious cause for concern and one which can derail us across our lives. Depression is nothing to ignore, but it’s also nothing to fear. As a matter of fact, our depression is a part of us and it has a message we have to find the courage to hear loud and clear.
We have to see our depression differently. Like any other feeling or experience that we have, there is a message in our depression which, when heeded, can help to enhance the quality of our lives. Rather than seeing it as the monster under the bed, we have to make the decision to see it as the roadmap to our deeper healing.
Believe it or not, your depression exists for a reason. It’s trying to save you from danger, it’s trying to tell you that it’s time to heal. You can either choose to deal with your depression as an enemy, or you can tune into the channel and figure out what message it’s trying to send to you. Listening to our depression enables us to find the help and the truth that we need. Until then, it’s impossible to get our head out of the fog and back into the game.
What your depression is really trying to tell you.
Just as each one of our emotions serves a purpose, our depression too can serve a purpose when we change the way we see it. Instead of seeing a specter which haunts us, we can choose to see a tough-love family member who is doing what they can to push us toward healing and the people and places that really align with our inner truths.
It’s time to heal
Believe it or not, the pain of your past is calling you into the future through the suffering of your depression. It’s telling you to find help and find healing for all the damage that’s been done and all the hurt that’s still to come. It wants you to be well, and it wants to live a life that’s whole, but it’s trying to tell you that what you’re doing currently isn’t working.
You’re in the wrong place
Did you know that your depression could be indicating that you’re in the wrong place in your life? You can become depressed when you’re surrounded by the wrong people or a lack of the right opportunities in life and career. Although it’s hard to admit, your depression could be telling you that it’s time to move yourself into a different place in life; away from the others and the comfort they once provided.
Are you struggling with something in your intimate relationship? Are you and your partner struggling to get along or show up for one another anymore? Your romantic relationship could be off or ill-matched, which is leading to complex emotions which are attempting to push you back into the appropriate lane. Until you face up to all the small issues, you’ll never be able to resolve this one major issue of depression and disconnection.
A need for change
Although you may be fine with where you’re at in your life, or with the people you’re surrounded by — you may still need to make some small changes in order to fine-tune your happiness. When figure out how to put yourself in the right place in this life, it becomes easier to get the help you need and easier to build a life that aligns with our authentic sense of purpose and happiness.
Calling you to be present
Perhaps the greatest lesson our depression has for us is a call to be present. When you’re depressed, you can’t help but to be present in the pain and the misery that’s coursing through your body. We can learn to see the silver-lining in this, though. Rather than seeing it as a suffering, we should see it as a messenger who is calling you back to your body and the state of your life; forcing you to look at the present state of your mental and emotional health.
How to piece your life back together.
Depression doesn’t have to rule your life forward. No matter what type of depression you’re facing, there’s help out there and there’re solutions that you can find in order to build peace. Before you can get there, though, you need to admit there’s a problem, educate yourself, and open the door to truth, help, and love.
1. Admit there’s a problem
You can’t fix what’s going wrong in your life until you admit that there’s a problem in the first place. Coming back from depression, after all, is a lot like a road trip. There’s going to be a lot of ups and down and twists along the way. There may be setbacks and diversions. That’s fine, though, when you learn how to value the journey and know exactly where you’re going.
It’s time to admit that you’re living in a dark place so that you can find your way out of it. If you want to find the silver lining in the misery you’re stuck in right now, you have to admit first where you’re stuck. Take all the time you need, but face up to reality. If you can’t say the words out loud, write them down in your journal.
For you to fix what’s going wrong effectively, you need to make sure you know what’s wrong in the first place. Honesty is a lot like pulling off a bandaid. The pain of admitting will never get easier, and its pain will never lessen. Rather than running from that which is impossible to run from, look inside and admit the truths you’ve been avoiding. There’s a serious problem here and you need to put it to bed once and for all.
2. Educate yourself
There can be no denying the power of knowledge when it comes to dealing with our own depression. Our digital age has made it possible to share information like never before. We can build a base of knowledge which enables us to better face and address our mental health struggles in a way which works for us.
Spend some time educating yourself. Pick out a few solid resources and refer back to them daily. Learn everything you can about the types of depression, how they impact your emotions, and how they affect your body and even your relationships.
Look too for different avenues of treatment and be honest with yourself about any techniques or medications that you want to try. The more you know about depression, the better equipped you become to face up to it when life gets harder than it should. Don’t go stumbling into the darkness of your depression without a light. Educate yourself so you can get the help you need.
3. Open the door to help
Like it or not, humans are social creatures, and the vast majority of us don’t feel complete until we are surrounded by people who love and support us. These social groups are important, and they provide us with a lot of excess support when life throws challenges our way. Are you struggling to get happy or figure out what comes next? Open the door to help that matters.
Reach out to a handful of trusted friends or family members and let them know what’s going on. At this stage, avoid anyone who may be judgemental or likely to make it about themselves. Look for those who don’t want anything except the opportunity to see you thrive as you were meant to.
We shouldn’t just draw the line for ourselves at friends and family, though. It’s impossible for many of us to work through our mental health struggles without the help of a professional who knows what they’re doing. Wrap yourself in knowledge and use that knowledge to find someone you can connect with on a personal level. It’s never been less taboo or more accessible to find an expert to help unravel the knots of mental and emotional pain you’re dealing with.
4. Always pursue fulfillment
What is it in this life that gives you a sense of meaning? Do you get a sense of pride and fulfillment from your job? Your family? What about your intimate and romantic relationships? Fulfillment is what allows us to stay excited about life and engaged right in the heart of it. If we don’t feel fulfilling our lives, we get antsy, frustrated, and can even act out by lashing out and punishing others.
Always pursue your authentic sense of fulfillment and joy. You can’t be happy if you’re spending all your time and energy chasing the things that make other people comfortable and happy. That leaves nothing there for you at the end of the day.
Before you make any major commitment in your life, ask yourself, “Does this bring me pride? If I do this, will it make me happy even if it fails?” Fulfilling things are the experiences, people, and opportunities which align with our values, our needs, and our deeper longing and interests. When we are fulfilled in our lives (or relationships) we become content and that contentment is obvious.
5. Be kind to yourself
There’s not enough that could possibly be said about the power of being kind to ourselves when we’re battling an uphill struggle against depression. Fighting this type of conflict is abstract, time-consuming, and subtle. When you win one battle, the next one appears, and you end up right back where you started. That’s why it’s important to be kind to yourself when you’re trying to heal.
Be as kind to yourself as you are to those you love who are suffering. Drop the shame and be as kind as you would be to a suffering child (because after all, that’s what you ultimately are). Extend your empathy to yourself when you get it wrong and remember that you’re capable — despite your flaws.
Re-building your life after depression is not an easy road. You’re going to feel the same doubts and emotions, and you’re going to fall back into the same insecure habits and patterns. That’s okay. Be kind to yourself and know that backsliding doesn’t mean a “reset”. It simply means that you had a bad day. Embrace it and commit to fewer bad days in the future. All you can do is things one instance at a time.
Putting it all together…
Although we spend a lot of time running from our depression, it actually holds some very important lessons for us when we face it bravely to listen. Our depression is pushing us to heal, and it’s pushing us toward a life that is more authentically ours too. Getting that life requires action, though, and admitting that we’re floundering in a place that isn’t meant for us.
First, admit there’s a problem and admit that you’re not coping well. Depression can be subtle, educate yourself and learn to spot the signs of the darkness that’s taking up valuable room in your life. This knowledge to hand, you can open up the door to help. Reach out to trusted friends and family, then allow yourself to find an experienced mental health professional too. Emotional and mental therapy has never been more accessible. Chase your fulfillment and stop chasing things that make other people happy. You are the only one who has a right to define your life. Be kind to yourself and know that the journey back from depression is a long one with endless twists and turns. Embrace the journey and embrace too your right to live happily and surrounded by love and compassion.