For those who know my story. It’s been a long trail of the wrong card in the wrong deck. My deck called life has constantly been a trail of ups and downs.
After being deemed a troubled kid, had eyes staring at me countless times. Having lost my way several hundred times the one thing I didn’t have is someone standing at the end of the line with the pick me up juice.
Instead, by the time I reach the end of the line, my running turns into a jog and the once bright scenery turns into a cloudy, foggy and eerie scenario. It easily could depict the atmosphere of a Stephen King’s book.
Happiness seemed out of reach and what I was seeking for constantly gets thrown down on concrete by my constant psychological turmoils. Until one day I actually hit face flat on a concrete ground.
People often ask me,
“how does depression feels like?
“Don’t you think you’re just sad?
“What do you feel like?
or sometimes I receive the infamous statements.
“Don’t you think you’re being dramatic”,
“You shouldn’t think of your past too much”,
“You’re so hard to handle”
“You’re just being selfish”
“You should learn to have fun”
All these statements never helped me, instead it just pushed me deeper into that dark cave. To be honest, I was scared, I was terrified and I felt helpless. I was jealous, I was envious and I was hating myself.
However, after some time I got tired. I got tired of waiting for this turmoil of emotions to go away. I was tired of putting a mask or overworking myself. In complete honesty, I was tired of running and hiding.
I decided to confront my demon. I decided that the best way to understand my depression is to learn how to be friends with it. I learned this from an unlikely source, to be honest.
Naruto was my inspiration. Watching the series gave me a realization that the 9-tailed beast in him was his form of depression. While he was against it all he did was putting forward more obstacles for himself. All he did was tiring him but when he managed to befriend it — he harnessed its power beyond imagination.
So how did I embrace and befriend my depression?
1. I Realized My Past.
For me, my depression stemmed from ADHD. It’s a given gift but then it was amplified by my past. My traumas from the past. I still do have reoccurring nightmares from them. After being bullied, being ostracized and lead me down the path of self-harming and self-destruction.
This past gives me my nightmares. So how do I overcome it?
I started writing them down, creating a dream journal. A dream journal that addresses my past. This then became a symbol that it’s not my present instead it’s my past — those demons can’t harm me anymore.
By writing it down, I started channeling my past in the form of stories which reduced its impact and slowly eliminated my memories of my past from my mind and became a story written in my books.
2. I Realized My Fears.
Fear is something that’s present in everyone’s lives. It’s present with regards to our careers, family, friends, relationships, future, past, present, and emotions. These fears can sometimes be overpowering, dominating and strong.
When you’re scared — you feel paralyzed. You feel incapable. You start questioning your decisions and your confidence. Taking that small step forward could consume all your energy.
So how do you realize your fears?
Your fears are like a bandage or a waxing strip. The one way to move on is to rip it in one swift movement. It’s the same with fears. Once you’ve taken the first step- you’ll realize it’s no longer a problem.
A simple example from my personal life would be my fear of heights. When I was 16 I jumped off the 5th floor in an attempt to kill myself- after recovering I developed an extreme fear of heights. During my first year in university — 2 years after that incident, me and my best friend went to a theme park.
My friend, Joan is one of the most beautiful and brave women and she wanted to go for the roller coaster ride. I remember my hands was sweating, my feet was sweating, my heartbeat racing like it’s looking for an exit and my head felt light. My blood pressure increases in a few nanoseconds. However, I bit my tongue and head for the roller coaster. Joan held my hand and said I won’t let you fall.
After that first ride, I decided that I’m still not over my fears. So I decided to go for a bungee jumping trip — this time to do it alone. This time I felt like I was flying. Finally, I felt liberated from that one fear.
Since then I face all my fears as if it’s my bandage. It’s not shameful to look for support, to look for a friend or family to help you get over it. However, once you’re ready- facing it alone gives frees you from that individual limitation.
As you make it a habit, you’ll be at the end of your fear list in no time.
3. I Started Identifying When It’s Going To Hit and Prepare A Welcome Party Accordingly.
However, even after all those methods. I still had no idea how to control the unforeseen circumstance when I’m being hit with breathlessness in a bad way. I didn’t know how to free myself from that suffocating emotion.
So I thought I would start with a welcome party for my longest friends “Depression and Anxieties”.
I initially observed how the cycle takes place. I paid attention to my cravings, to my food needs, to my television preference, to go to books, to my dreams and finally to my thought process.
I noted it down and keeping a journal became of use during that time.
Therefore, 3 days before my morning of waking up feeling extremely crippled. Feeling worse than my usual morning anxieties. I stock up my fridge with mood-adapting food. Most times would be proteins such as eggs, lean meat, and soybeans. I also realized my palate craves for something sweet hence I opt towards sweeter fruits, berries, tons of yogurt, beetroots, celery and coconut based products. These works extremely well if you’re looking forward to the visit of your best friend.
Well, I definitely do get some peculiar treats for myself with ice cream and some of my favorite chocolates. This is an amazing time to treat yourself.
Hence, my stock of food is ready for the welcome party. Now I just need to arrange my room according to the situation. Hence, less light as during this period I prefer being a vampire — adjust my sleeping routine and add lavender essence to the mix.
Finally, I prep a flask filled with Turmeric Milk or Tea to allow me to sleep without any interruptions.
Preparing yourself for your attack allows you to still function productively and reduce the consequence of your “Friends” visit.
4. I Make An Effort To Stay Fresh, Physically and Mentally.
When you’re depressed it’s easier to not care, it’s easier to swallow a couple of pills of anti-depressants, it’s easier to fill yourself emotionally with food, it’s easier to become invisible and fade away.
However, the easiest path is never the best path.
I learned it the hard way. When I was depressed I used to let myself go. I swallow my prescribed pills, I let my mind feel and be lethargic and I let junk food, sweets, and sodas consume my life. I slowly started feeling self- conscious and started binging and puking all my food.
But the problem was I couldn’t care less about myself.
However, now I take effort. I realized keeping myself fresh either through a new hairstyle, staying fit, or getting a new tattoo. I realized to give myself a new look often as a preventative mechanism from falling into the same trap.
Therefore, if you find yourself trapped in that never ending circle. Then take a hard look at yourself in the mirror. Take a hard look and ask yourself what changes can you make to feel fresh again.
Once, you’ve answered it. Don’t question your decision of change and take the next step in changing your path to the better. Keeping yourself fresh, exciting and attractive for your own eyes — is one of the hacks to get you out of the circle “ I Don’t Care Anymore”.
5. I Combined Food With The Mind.
Our diets are the backbone of our lives. We are what we eat- if you wouldn’t carry poop to places of worship why would you put shit in the temple called your body.
Apart from your physical impact — your mind to is greatly affected by the food you consume.
So do your research for your emotions. Record your daily moods and daily energy level and research for foods which could balance them out. Cook your food instead of opting for take-outs or have a preference towards organic foods instead of processed food.
Prioritize food as an important part of your life instead of just a necessity that needs to be filled. Plus cooking has proven to be a therapeutic routine. Be creative and challenge your palates with different flavors. The more you expand your flavor profile p the more social and cheerful you become.
It’s been proven that people that are less picky with food and are more willing to experiment — are individuals that possess higher confidence, self-esteem, and ability to socialize.
Therefore, observe your diet as you’re on the road to recovery.
6. I Start Making Myself The Inspiration.
Be your own inspiration. This part is important — it will be an evident step for a better step forward.
I practice the 10-minute routine every day in the morning and at night. I look at myself in the mirror and start highlighting of why I’m a wonderful human being. I highlight my characteristic that has a chance to make the world a better place. I highlight my determination, my passion, and my charisma. So, in a nutshell, I highlight everything positive about me from my physical appearance to my internal affairs.
I bring out the best in me whilst standing in front of the mirror. In some way I make myself — my hero, my inspiration and I aim to be a better “ME” the next day.
Instead of aiming to be someone else, I make it a necessity to become a better “ME” the next day. In that way, you will slowly increase your serotonin levels- influencing your mood throughout the day and your nightly peaceful rest.
Hence, instead of letting the voices of depression get the better of me — I get my mind to submit and to aid me along with the positive. It definitely takes time, tears, effort and lots of research but if you’ve managed to do it you can pat yourself on the back as you’re now in control of yourself.
7. I Speak To My Alter-Ego (Depression) Out Loud As If It’s A Person.
Apart from writing, I had the character of talking to myself. Growing up lonely I managed to create a personality for my depression. Instead of trapping it in, consuming it and suffocating with it
— I let it out. I speak it out loud, I give it a voice and a personality.
I address its concerns, I address the fears and I address its negativity. However, by voicing it out, by speaking out loud — I free up the space needed in my mind that allows me to think and brainstorm.
Slowly, the habit of speaking out loud allowed me to look at depression in a calmer manner. It allowed me to find solutions and reduced my anxieties regarding every issue. Soon enough that invisible personality became my way of finding a solution and coping with any circumstance.
Talking to yourself isn’t bad — a few of the world’s greatest minds had the habit of talking to themselves, for example, Albert Einstein, Author Stefan Zweig, Author Stephen King and several others.
Speaking to yourself increases creativity, increases brain function and reduces emotional stress.
8. I Take Time For Me To Recover Every day.
Our bodies are like machines and our minds are like laptops. We need to give it time to recover, time to process and time to comprehend every day.
So don’t be afraid to give yourself 1–2 hours per day to recover.
Either to sleep or watch something. Learn to enjoy your own company and learn to enjoy the presence of silence.
If you enjoy meditating then take that time to meditate. To silence the voice around you and inside you and appreciate yourself during that time.
9. I Learn To Become A Drift Wood When Surrounded By Negativity.
Have you watched a driftwood?
Do you notice how it just moves past currents, it moves past trash, it moves past rivers, oceans and everything in between?
That’s how I programmed myself when I’m surrounded by negativity. When I get claustrophobic with the negative bombardment of opinions, statements or actions. I used to take it in and contemplate myself for everything. I used to hate myself for my character and hate myself for everything that I was. I used to apologize for being present.
That increased the crippling feeling that at some point I stopped leaving my bed. I stopped crying and I just wanted to sleep all the time.
Until one day, when I was reading a book called Autobiography of a Yogi, this book had several analogies one of it referring to a driftwood. I saw myself as a rock that keeps on sinking — so I slowly started transforming myself. Like a caterpillar.
I exclude myself from a situation that I find are completely negative and counter-productive. I stop being apologetic for being present instead I entertain and create a happier atmosphere to make the best of situations.
I slowly realized, I started being more empathetic and learned how to silence the noise. Hence every night I walk back into my room, I feel lighter as what’s being said throughout the day are memories of a past.
Being a driftwood allowed me to be happier and confident, allows me to say goodbye and accept changes and allows me to take up challenges to move forward.
10. I Learned How To Say Goodbye.
Saying goodbye its the hardest. However, saying goodbye is the great leap into befriending your depression. When you bid farewell to your visiting friend you realize you would feel it again and you would be better at having them around.
Your thoughts slowly stabilize and you become balanced internally and externally.
The strength to say goodbye allows you to move forward, allows you to cut off relationships that seem to hold you back and finally allows you to take brave steps for a new adventure.
As humans, we aren’t meant for a monotonous lifestyle. We are created to live life and experience adventures. Therefore, when you’re cooped up and find yourself unable to bid that farewell to move forward — you end up deteriorating your mind.
I’ve managed to say goodbye to my past, to various relationships, to failures, to success and to various circumstances — that opened up new doors and new paths for me to constantly move forward.
11. Finally, I Learned To Not Expect People To Understand But Help Them Understand — If Not Accept And Appreciate Their Presence And Concern.
Sometimes we feel that our friends, families or partners can’t understand us. We seclude ourselves in a box to avoid confronting people. However, every individual is programmed or created differently, therefore, expecting too much from everyone will only make you feel worse when they don’t meet your expectations.
Therefore, when you find yourself in a situation that’s opposed to your expectations — instead of being disappointed, try appreciating their presence. Show your appreciation towards their concern, their hugs and their love because even though they don’t understand you — they’re making the effort to do so.
When you share appreciation, it allows the other person to understand better. Hence, in the end, your wish may come true.
My personal story leads me to want to advocate for mental health issues. To advocate for everyone who’s going through similar or the same situations as I did. However, it took me a long and painful road to realizing the one way for me to move forward is to befriend my childhood problem.
I decided to be friends with my depression and it slowly became my steps forward to a positive outlook and an honest smile I enjoy these days.