This too shall pass

Depression is being in a dark tunnel. You have to get through it to the other side. You can’t stop and stay in the tunnel, and you can’t go back the way you came in. The best thing you can do is keep moving forward.

Allow others to help guide you through the tunnel. These guides can be family, friends, and counselors.

You can also use tools to light the way. In this article, we will go into some of the best tools and strategies to keep you moving in the right direction and avoid stumbling. The tunnel will eventually end and you will come out the other side.

This tunnel, and all other future tunnels you may encounter, may feel dark and hopeless when you’re in the midst of them, but I promise, they will end and the other side is there. It is bright and beautiful. And it is waiting for you.

Getting through Depression

By the time I realized how bad my depression had gotten, I felt like it was too late to dig myself out. For me, the first time it happened was the year that I lost my mom. I vividly remember the day that she died. The grief and pain were so intense, I felt like my chest would explode. I remember crying hysterically for hours.

Eventually, the emotions subsided and I just felt numb, in a phase of denial, where the trauma of her death was too much for me to process. Through the following weeks, depression came in slowly, weighing me down more and more until I lost almost all my purpose to live, and the world was cold and gray. I felt like I was trapped in a glass box, unable to experience the joy that I saw in people all around me. I just wanted to get out, but I couldn’t figure out how, nor did I have the energy anymore to try and break through.

Somehow, eventually, I got through it. For months I felt normal, happy, hopeful, and goal-driven. Then a year later, it came back.

The thing I realized is, depression does not promise to be a one-time thing. Once I learned to accept that, my attitude towards it changed. I learned how to change my thoughts and actions to not simply survive my periods of depression, but how to lift myself out, how to find joy, and how to find hope.

Be kind to yourself

Depression makes even the simplest of tasks feel impossible. Even getting out of bed and getting ready for the day felt exhausting to me. That is why it is so important to go easy on yourself and give yourself time to heal. Think of how someone would treat themselves if they were physically wounded, such as a broken leg.

Someone with a broken leg can’t move as fast as they normally can. They might need to rely on others for support and assistance. If they force themselves to walk on it while it is still healing, they will only prolong the recovery process. Instead, the best thing that they can do is take care of their wound. Instead of being hard on themselves for not moving as fast as they used to, they can celebrate the baby steps they are able to make every day.

Now, apply that to depression. Try to be patient with yourself. Start with small victories. Start with making your bed every single morning. Give yourself credit for taking a shower when you haven’t been able to even dress yourself for days. Give yourself credit for showing up to work when your depression wanted to trap you in your bed. Celebrate what you were able to accomplish instead of beating yourself up for what you’re struggling with.

And, just as you would help someone that you see is hurting, allow others to help you through this time. Be patient with the healing process. You’re worth it, I promise.

Feel the sunlight

Depression detaches us. You can feel like you’re just going through the motions, unable to emotionally connect or be inspired by others and the world around you. This is where a conscious brain “rewire”ment can help to spark emotions and reset your perspective. Set aside time daily to meditate on all the things in life that you are grateful for.

Focus on the good people in your life, recalling gestures and moments that you felt particularly loved, like a warm hug, a text to check in on you, a thoughtful birthday present, a coffee date, a funny joke or a moment you experienced together. Then, focus on the everyday beautiful things that your brain has taken for granted, like rainstorms, sunsets, a cool breeze, or laughter.

Write these things down in a journal, that way you can go back and remind yourself of how many things you have to be grateful for.

After you have taken the time for gratitude, try to go on a walk. Exercise releases dopamine, and a walk is a perfect way to get that without the task feeling too daunting. This also gets you out of your house and gives you new sensory beauty to take in.

On your walk, allow yourself to feel the sunlight on your face, the breeze blowing through your hair. Feel the leaves rustling beneath you. You don’t have to pressure yourself to make this experience something spectacular. Allow yourself to be present and be in the moment.

Through this, the weight of depression can be lightened and joy can be sparked.

By acknowledging it, healing can happen

Whether you have experienced depression before and feel it coming up again, or it is your first time, it is understandable to want to ignore it. Admitting you are depressed makes it real, and why would we want it to be real? It is scary and painful. Worst of all, it is lonely. Because depression is physically invisible, it is easy to feel ashamed or a burden for feeling this way, because no one can see the struggle going on inside our head.

Your pain is real and deserves to be validated. You are not your depression, but just like a physical wound, it is something that happened to you, and now you need to take care of yourself to get better.

Saying the truth out loud, ‘I am depressed and I want to get better’, as scary as it can be to admit, takes away its power. When we keep the truth locked up, we are living in shame and fear. By voicing both its existence and your desire to get better, you can start making progress toward healing.

Just remember: You are stronger than you give yourself credit for. Just take it one step at a time and you will get there, I promise.