A good friend recently asked me how I managed to get through the worst parts of my depression and rebuild my confidence. I answered truthfully: therapy played the largest role. I found someone that I could go speak with a couple times a month. I could be happy the whole session; I could cry for the first twenty minutes. I could talk about every little thought that drove me crazy, or I could talk about the silly things that my dog had been doing. It was a 50 minute session devoted to me, and what I wanted to get off my chest, off my mind.
But I did do more than that. When I was at my worst, I found that there were so many things that I did that only served to make me more unhappy. I had social media sites, and forums, that I would go to, and rather than feel stimulated by conversation, I felt miserable. I interpretted things as personal attacks at me because it made the most sense. After all, the negative thoughts in my head had control, so what they told me had to be true. Which wasn’t the case, but when you are stuck in that mindset, and feel the constant pressure of negativity, it’s hard to believe otherwise.
So, I made hard choices. I withdrew from those sites where I felt miserable at. Not because I wanted to let the negative voices win, but because I had to stop the cycle of thoughts in my brain. At the time, I couldn’t get away from one of the largest sources of negativity in my life (my then job), but I could work to surround myself with people and activities outside work that brought me happiness. I had to refind that for me. After all, during the worst parts of my depression, I couldn’t bring myself to write. The simplest thing in the world, and the anxiety of that blank page would send me into a near panic that would inevitably result in my tears.
Through this all, I kept going to see my awesome therapist. She might be telling me the same things that people who loved me told me, but that one on one where it’s all about me, it’s something I do need. Plus, it’s no longer about my husband and my friends trying to carry me, trying to fix me. I’m getting the help I need, and I don’t feel the anxiety of being a burden to others. I also have managed to get off all my anti-depressants, and I’m less likely to try and sequester myself in solitude even on my worst mental health days.
I have pretty bad days still. I’ve had a string of them lately. Unemployment sucks, and it feels like failure on a magnitude that I can’t control. Part of me wants to just hide until I disappear from society entirely, but I don’t want to let that negativity take hold again. So, I’m going to stick to my commitments. I’m going to hang out with my friends, and just enjoy being there, even though my brain is trying to sabotage that for me. I can be stronger than the worst parts of me. I have to work at it, and it’s not something I always win at, but I try.
So, for those out there struggling, I hope maybe part of this helps you. If not, I hope you find what will help you, and just know, that there are people who understand where you are. (Seriously, Wil Wheaton is a huge inspiration for me when it comes to speaking out about this issue.)