Things I’m Learning from Depression

Crying is not weakness

It’s the opposite of laughing. I laugh when I’m happy and having a good time. I cry when I’m feeling sad and unhappy. It shows I am feeling all the emotions humans are able to feel. I was brought up to get on with things and not make a fuss, but now I know crying isn’t making a fuss – it is feeling the emotions that are causing you to cry. It is nothing to be ashamed of. I’m crying while writing this post, because it is hard to admit my true feelings, because I have not been able to before. It feels foreign to me, but also frees me from the internal suffering. Making it external lets it go.

It shows you who your friends are

Depression is an internal illness and it affects every decision I make – good and bad. It isolates the people from ourselves and other people. Just telling someone you have depression takes an amazing amount of courage and trust.  Those who ran away gave up on me. It makes me sad, but I now have to give up on them. I can’t trust them anymore. I feel betrayed and abandoned. I have to put my efforts into being with people who want to be with me and let go of the rest. The people who have been fantastic for me to be around treat me normally. They didn’t run away. They helped me joke and laugh and remind me of the good things in life. They showed understanding. They pushed me a bit to get me out of slumps.

My mind is complex – everyones mind is complex

Through all my reading about depression I have come to understand that no-one really understands the mind or what depression is. This was originally despairing for me as when suffering from depression all I wanted to do was get better. I wanted the quick fix. I wanted the medication to do the trick – be a magic pill and make me well. I have released that everyone is different. Every depression is different. Everyone can get better if they work for it. I have had to slow down. I am focusing on what works and who makes me feel myself. I have learnt to say no when I really don’t want to do something. I am learning to take my thoughts and feelings with a pinch of salt. I am learning to write things down and work through things without letting my mind exaggerate things beyond control.

My body is amazing

Through it all my body has kept functioning. I have treated it badly. Punished it with both food and exercise, but it hasn’t let me down. It has got me out of bed every morning. It has held me upright throughout the days. It has not complained. It has shown me over and over that I can trust it, even when I can’t trust my mind. It has told me when I’ve taken on too much. It has shown me the way back to fitness and been strong when it likes it and hinted with pain when it doesn’t. I’m learning to listen. Doing Mara’s Body Loving Homework is helping me think of my body in new and positive ways. Taking the time to think and feel is having a big effect on how I treat my body and my mind.

 Time doesn’t mean anything

Time when it comes to depression is meaningless. You can’t lay out your road to recovery. It could take a few weeks to a multiple years. I’ve had depression almost 2 years (and probably more before I was diagnosed) and don’t know when the end will come. People writing about their experiences say recovery is gradual, and I am starting to agree. I was always in a rush. I wasted time doing things I thought I should be doing. I neglected the things I enjoy doing because I thought I didn’t deserve them or was too mature for things. Now I do the opposite, even if it seems selfish to others (those are also people I don’t need around me). I do not beat myself up about ‘time wasted’ if I have enjoyed wasting it, I haven’t really wasted it at all. 2012 has been both the worst and best year of my life. I have made some horrible decisions that have affected other people, but I have bought a house of my own and gotten a new job. I have learned to trust myself when things feel right for me – the bigger decisions have been easier than the smaller ones!

 Trying new things doesn’t have to be success or failure

This stems from all or nothing thinking. I got to the point of only doing things I was good at. I probably missed out on experiences without realising. Now I am trying new things for fun. Making bread – mixed results! Making bagels – first batch great, second not as good. Cupcake making – fun for a day & would try again. Audiobooks – better than thought, but could do with working on my listening skills! Blogging – enjoy writing posts, but don’t need to write everyday forever! It’s fun to go in and give things a go and not to worry whether you are good at is or bad at it. You don’t have to do anything more than once. It opens me up to new skills and experiences and people I wouldn’t otherwise get. I saw a wreath making workshop at a local shop today and am very tempted to sign up 🙂

We are all human

This helps me be more understanding of people (without contradicting what I’ve said above). I got to the point where I took (and still do, but working on it) everything personally. My inner struggles got pushed onto everything everyone else did that affected me. I would feel my insecurities all the time. I would feel not good enough for the slightest reason. I would worry I wasn’t doing enough all the time. I still do this, but now I am aware of it. I catch myself when it happens and try to take a step back and a breathe. Some people are worth making the effort to understand, but others aren’t. Everyone though is worth manners and being noticed, rudeness is not something I do intensionally. I like to smile at people I walk past, but no longer worry if they don’t smile back. It is about being aware of the present moment.

There are likely more things than above, but these have been on my mind lately.

Is there anything you have learnt from your experiences with depression? Is there anything you’ve changed to make yourself better? I would be very interested in your thoughts and comments 🙂

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