How I Fought My Years Long Depression
A 5-step routine to follow every day
Depression is a state of mind that affects a person’s thoughts, feelings, and sense of well-being. Being depressed means we cannot find the light in the deep darkness of our minds, which we ourselves created. My acquaintance with depression is long and strange. Strange, because I was blind to my own condition. I believed I was okay and refused to accept that I could be depressed with my life. My lies were so good that I fooled everyone, including myself.
So when the time came, all the pent up frustration came to the surface and I didn’t know what to do. All these years of issues wanted to suffocate me. People like me who are stubborn and don’t want to take other people’s advice; they have to fight this the hard way. Over time, I found a certain way to live life so that I could avoid the big, dark abyss. This is an article about how I survived the chasm.
1. Rising early
Getting up early means we get a much longer day. And for me, mornings are the best part of the day because it’s so quiet and peaceful. The extra time alone makes me spend some time with myself.
“Wake up early and tackle the day before it tackles you. Be on offense, not defense.”— Evan Carmichael
I didn’t like to face my problems, and thinking about all the shortcomings made me sad. So I had just stopped thinking about them. I didn’t let myself stress over life — which was a good approach — for a time. I watched movies, gossiped with friends, and did everything except think about what was wrong and how to fix it.
Waking up at 5 o’clock every morning now gives me a fresh slate to plan my day on. There is no one to see what I’m doing, so I can do anything I please. There is no distraction of calls or texting, so I can spend some time with myself. If you avoid yourself in fear that you will be loaded with problems and never spend time inside your own head — how would you love yourself?
So go on now. Challenge yourself to wake up before the sun and see the world wake up before your eyes. When I get up that early, there’s so much time to do everything I never did before by making excuses for lack of time. Sitting by the window with a cup of coffee, seeing the color return to the sky is guaranteed to make us feel a sort of inner peace.
Wake up early, not because you have things to do, but because you don’t.
Researches say that exercise can boost a mind suffering from depression. A regular routine of exercise lets the mind relax along with the strain on the body. But, being as lazy as I am, I never did much in the name of exercise except walk. But during the days of the pandemic, going outside wasn’t something that appealed to me. So I resorted to a bit of yoga — which I can't say I was very committed to. Instead, what helped me is — meditation.
Before, when I was living the merry world of ignorance, I never gave a second’s notice on meditation. But as I came to realize after giving it an honest chance, it really calms the mind. It worked for me. In the morning quiet at my home, when I closed my eyes to lighten my mind, I found all the things I thought insignificant — to be interesting.
The thing about meditation is you become more and more you.
As the narrator’s voice washed through me, I learned to re-live the hard days, I cried over my failures, laughed over my stupidity, understood the mistakes. I learned my life from a new perspective and let the problems go. If you are like me, with your avoidance technique and skeptical mindset, try and break free from it. Give your mind the time to understand it and let all the anxiety go.
Embrace life so that you can live it.
3. Doing what I love to do
Whenever I fell into any sort of problem, I always tried to mute it. I submerged myself into more interesting things like reading or watching movies. I found that I was happy when I was otherwise occupied. So I read about 150 novels every year for the last three years. If I didn’t have something new to read, I reread old favorites. I’m proud of this number, but it also proved to be a curse for me.
Reading became less like a hobby and more like an addiction.
I wanted to escape my life by diving inside the pages of a book. I didn’t have any solutions to my problems so I went to characters whose problems had pre-made dramatically perfect solutions. I lost myself in my hobby to escape from dwelling about my problems. So, I decided to stop reading.
One day, I decided that I’d force myself not to read another book for a month and focus on my own problems. It shouldn't have been that hard. But my problem is — I didn’t have anything else I could look forward to. So, that month was the hardest month of my life. I failed to find one positive thing in life, which typically made me not able to find any solutions to any problems.
"Beware the hobby that eats. "— Benjamin Franklin
So, I started to ration my daily dose of reading. One hour every day or maybe five chapters per day is the limit. It also helps me absorb the content more. I realized that being happy is more important than being disciplined. Doing what you love doesn’t necessarily have to prevent you from doing what matters, only, you have yo find the best balance between the two. So do what you love to do, what makes you feel sane. Find a hobby and stick to it in a healthy way. And then, find your way back to all the way you can actually start the journey back from insanity.
4. Talking things over
I’ve always known talking to someone helps us find an answer that we were initially overlooking. But, as I was lying to myself about how happy I was, I didn’t care about that. I am an introvert, but that does not necessarily mean I don’t talk. I am quite talkative with people I feel relaxed around. But I never really talked to them about all the doubts in my head. I always pretended I was okay, and gradually I started to believe it myself. I didn’t feel like I was depressed, so why would I ask for help? But that month — the one I said was the worst of my life, I didn’t have books to escape into. So, one day, I burst out. I poured my heart out to my mother.
She held me tight and listened to what I had to say, and then, she guided me to see things with more clarity.
Social support is one of the most important things in fighting with depression. When we are depressed, it means we cannot find a reason to be happy with ourselves. So we need someone to make us see the good in us. That’s why a good support network is necessary. Someone who’ll always listen and help you come out of the dark. I have a friend who has more faith in me that I do. Every time I feel down, I call her and know that she'll motivate me and make me want to love myself again. Keeping our thoughts inside never helps us. Find someone who helps, who cares.
5. Complimenting at least one person daily
When we feel bad, we are also seeing the world in a different light. Other person’s happiness can make us feel jealous and even worse for ourselves. But what if we are the ones that made the other person happy?
When I was having one of my tougher days, I tried complimenting my brother — which I never do. He was surprised and delighted, which I was surprised to find, in turn, made me feel better for myself.
If you are making someone else happy with a compliment, they become more receptive to you and think good of you. Which in turn builds your confidence that not everything about your life is horrible. Thus, I figured, I needed constant reminders of this feeling. So I compliment one person every day. The randomness of this brings a different kind of happiness in them and it is a win on both sides indeed.
In my society, depression is a taboo concept to talk about. If you confess to suffering from depression, people would either directly compare you to an asylum patient, or say you are bluffing for attention. This made me bottle up my feelings to be more acceptable. But depression is a villain that can never be slain, we can just learn to imprison it. Finding what works and being loyal to that solution can help us stay in the warmth of light that is the glow of self-love.