There are times in life when things feel so dark. When we find ourselves consumed with negativity and we stop noticing any of the positive things around us.
There are times in life when a darkness starts to take over. When it creeps in and begins to eat us up. When we feel so low that the smallest of things become so big. When we feel so confused that the simple things get forgotten, and when we feel so afraid that everything suddenly feels unsafe or scary.
Depression sets in. Bleakness takes over. Colour no longer exits.
Dark thoughts can be scary. They can be overwhelming. Suddenly it becomes hard to sleep, to eat, to focus – people find themselves feeling anxious in places they once found easy to be in. People find themselves feeling overwhelmed with the most basic things. And before you know it energy starts to fade. Moods start to sink. A fragility exists that wasn’t there once before.
Some people find that they can’t stop eating, while others don’t eat at all. Some find themselves wanting to sleep all of the time. While others develop severe insomnia. There is no set description of depression – it impacts everyone differently.
Many people become extreme when it comes to the use of alcohol or drugs. Addiction kicks in. Some people feel like they can’t do anything at all or face anyone. While others become obsessive about things like exercise or extreme cleaning. All of this behaviour is exiting. Exiting your reality. A reality that feels black and heavy. Avoiding pain and moving more and more in themselves.
The reality is however, that all of this makes everything so much worse. Isolation creeps in. Loneliness takes over. Paranoia starts. Confidence decreases. Suddenly small things feel huge. A person starts to lose their sparkle. And where you once saw an aliveness in someone you now she a deadness. Depression. It’s there. And it can take over.
The key to living with depression is to start by acknowledging that you are going through a very difficult time. Name it. Say it. Own it. Right now. I am really struggling. It doesn’t take the pain away or make everything better. But it can make people feel calmer – and start to allow themselves to feel the way that they feel.
Give yourself permission to be – right here. Right now. However you are feeling. It is ok. And it is natural. Allow your thoughts and feelings to come to the surface. Sit with them. Experience them. Have faith that they will pass. As will this challenging time in your life. But know that it is ok to feel down sometimes. It is ok to feel overwhelmed sometimes. And it’s ok to be who you are. At any given moment.
Fighting depression isn’t easy. Because that darkness is exhausting in itself. It is however possible. It isn’t easy but its doable. Make sure you start with genuine self-care and self-love. Be kind to yourself always. Start with the simple things. Make sure you are winding down before bed and trying to get as much as sleep as you can. Give your body a chance to recover and to deal with things. Eat. Again it sounds simplistic but eat. Try to stick to a basic plan of three meals a day and three snacks in between. Keep in mind moderation – everything is ok when its balanced. You need energy to fight depression off. Not eating makes everything harder.
Keeping with the theme of moderation. Apply this to other areas of life such as exercise, alcohol, socialising etc. It’s easy to turn to extremes when you are in a dark place. To find yourself drinking more, or turning to fitness obsessively. Either way these things won’t help or do you any good. The same goes for going out all of the time and avoiding things or for throwing yourself into work all the time and again avoiding things. The key is creating balance in your life. And ultimately facing up to the things that are pulling you down and challenging you.
Expressing emotions and dealing with them can really help. Therapy is a great place to do this – counselling has a huge benefit when your feeling low. In addition to this things like yoga can really help the mind to feel calmer too. Talking is a great thing to do. Letting your feelings and emotions out is so therapeutic and positive. So think about your support network. Reach out when you can and talk to people. Never suffer alone or in silence. As hard as it can be. Take that step to ask for help when you need. If people can they will.
Take the time that you need for you. Whether that is going for a walk, reading a book, keeping a journal – it can all help. Work on your ability to be mindful and keeping present in the moment. Focusing on the here and now can really help. Surround yourself with those that bring out the best in you – not the stress in you.
Finally above all say no. Don’t put unnecessary pressure on yourself. Don’t feel you have to say yes to everything. It is ok to put boundaries in place, and it is ok to say no. If you are exhausted and overwhelmed don’t attend things. Give yourself the time that you need to rest and recover. The people that really love you and care about you will totally understand.
Fundamentally it is all about being kind to yourself. So start right now. Do what’s right for you and the rest will follow. You can beat this. Slowly, bit by bit, colour will return.