Different Blokes, Different Strokes: Coping with Depression
Written by Alex Joseph
I remember being at a really low point and hating myself for not being able to get through it the way other people had been able to. I read blog after blog, success stories, tips, and every other happy story there is. I tried doing what they did. But I’m not better. And they are. And that sucked.
During days that I’m able to step out and act like a normal functioning part of society, I get little compliments from friends who know what I’m going through. And in an attempt to make me feel better, they tell me about other people they know who are going through depression and, “can’t even get out of bed unlike you.” They then proceed to talk about how they gave those people the same advice they gave me. Advice that worked with me but hasn’t had much success with them.
And that’s when it hit me. I was the idiot that tried to be somebody else’s version of happy. It’s like taking pain medications to treat a fever just because that’s what everybody else was taking. Ineffective and totally dumb.
So, I went home and spent one whole week figuring out what I liked, what made me happy, and doing them. In the end, I realized that mindlessly writing short stories and poems were what did the trick. I stuck with it, and it worked.
Deeper Insight, Deeper Contentment
There were still days where I felt like my head was underwater and a grey filter clouded my eyes. I stopped writing. I missed a couple of therapy sessions, and when I did make them, I traipsed through it half-assed. And so, when my therapist gave me some negative feedback, it really stung. I didn’t understand that I had stopped trying. That I was acting in ways that I didn’t realize I was.
If you haven’t realized it by now, I’m in constant need of answers. So, I decided to figure out why I got the feedback in the first place. By trying to understand my illness and my own self, I became more and more able to separate them. And that made it easier for me to be aware of what was going on with me, the things I was doing, and the causes for some events in my life.
By becoming more aware, I was able to achieve this weird peacefulness in my heart. And I was able to go back to writing again.
Different Blokes, Different Strokes
While this usually means that there are different methods for different types of people, Irelate to it in a way because I go through some days where I’m a different person with different needs.
Aside from writing, gaining some insight on myself, and learning as much as I can about what I have to deal with, I’ve tried a lot of different activities that have helped me cope with a few dark days. They’re a bit common but I’m also going to include why they worked for me.
Or as most people call it, exercise. While scientifically, exercising is suggested because it allows your body to produce endorphins to make you happy, I enjoyed swimming because it made me feel at peace while keeping me preoccupied with the activity. The fact that I looked great after two weeks of daily laps was icing on the cake.
Meeting up with my friends regularly
Even during days that I didn’t feel up to it, I was determined to see my friends. I don’t have strong ties with my family, and I wasn’t comfortable enough to do group therapy so I relied on my best friends to help me out. And they did. Socializing, talking, going out… most times it felt good. I felt productive. And being with people who understood me and were there for me helped enforce the feeling that I was loved and that people had my back.
I’ve always been an insomniac; even as a kid. So when I was told to try to get enough sleep, I just laughed. I said it would never work, and it wouldn’t be effective anyway. But after a few nights of turning off everything and lying in bed at nine, listening to calming music, and attempting to meditate, I finally got a good amount of sleep. And I was wrong. It did help.
Listening to my “Happy Playlist”
Music has always been an important part of my life. So I created a Happy Playlist which consisted of a lot of songs that don’t exactly talk about happiness. But, these songs made me feel either happy or at peace. I compiled all of them and listened to them on a daily basis, and every time I felt like I was going to spiral again.
Learning to cook
Or learning how to do whatever your preferred hobby may be.
It distracted my mind, fed my curiosity, and gave me a lot of satisfaction when I mastered a couple of dishes. It was a new environment that was scary and fun at the same time. And now, every time I feel hungry, I feel a little tingle of excitement knowing that I can fix myself something and not need to pick up the phone to have something delivered.
There are so many ways for you keep the dark days at bay. But you must remember that whether or not you feel “happy”, it doesn’t matter. You’re alive, and you’re living. Just keep trying different things and don’t compare yourself to other people you feel are going through the same thing you are. It’s YOUR life. Do things your way, at your own pace.
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