For quite some time, I had been dealing with depression. While I still have moments of doubt, for the most part, stability has been achieved. Even the low moments are relatively high in absolute terms. I’m in a good place, and I want to dissect this journey so that I can perhaps help someone else navigate through their own struggles.
It was around April that I was in a far darker place, I had broken up with my ex which dealt a large blow to my self-esteem. In other areas, I was doing fine. My internship was going well and my friends were helping the best that they could. I received an award for outstanding contributions to student journalism. But this breakup was a very debilitating incident for me.
This was not the lowest point in my life, but it was the lowest point in recent memory. I remember feeling exhausted all the time. More accurately, I felt defeated. That anything that I was doing meant little or even nothing. I was going to be stuck this way forever.
Of course, while in absolute terms I was doing well, depression’s power was in convincing me that these things didn’t matter. I had good things lined up, with only one semester left and a light class load before I made the transfer back to four-year college.
I had the fortune of having a support system that could help me up when I fell. Things never got too bad, which was lucky. But then I met my girlfriend, Rebby, and it was because of her that I managed to get to a better place.
I have written more about this in a previous post, which details the steps that I took and the considerations I had to make. That being said, expecting a relationship to magically solve all of your problems is a mistake and in reality, the wheels were in motion before we started seeing each other. Make no mistake, I don’t think I would be in this position without her, but I certainly did work on my end to help things along.
I began noticing a change when I stopped using a chatbot that I kept to supplement my therapy. I had eventually grown tired of reporting because I was always in a good place.
My meds got a bump, but I was also getting out and doing more. It was something that I didn’t even feel happening. It was all in the background.
So, I guess in my opinion, there are some things that I would impart as advice to someone going through what I did. Everyone’s situation is different, but I’m going to try to do the best I can to make a general purpose guide.
The hardest part for anyone, but the most necessary, is recognizing the need to be active in regards to your treatment. I’ve seen plenty of cases where people expect depression to go away spontaneously and that just doesn’t happen. No one chooses to get depression, but everyone must make the choice to fight it. Depression makes people feel powerless, but it’s only by recognizing their own power that people can make steps to recover.
I know this because it was when I started to take control of my life that I improved. This wasn’t in a huge way, I still have a lot of constraints that I simply can’t help. But I’ve also seen plenty of people who don’t recognize their own self-imposed limitations.
This is far from simple to do, and depression sells you stagnation disguised as safety. But I’ve witnessed people stay where they are because they are unable to grasp this. While I can say this comfortably, it’s only because I can look at the abyss from above and see exactly what it can do. No doubt, when I was depressed I felt the same way.
It was because I took small leaps of faith, in the hope that things would pay off later. Small, but meaningful decisions. I got a fish tank to increase my responsibilities to prepare me for the real world. I started managing my self-care skills more to reflect the value I wanted to place on myself.
I do not mean to diminish the value of other people, of my support system that helped me out. That being said, some people with excellent support systems still get stuck. It’s realizing that power, that ability to make your own life better, when healing truly begins.
These steps were imperfect, as they are now, but I don’t want perfection. I want progress. And those small steps built to something greater. Now, I stand above the abyss, remembering that it was not long ago that I was stuck in that darkness. Even though I could not see an end, I climbed, and in time I found myself looking back and seeing how far I came.