In my last blog, I opened up about how depression hit me suddenly. It can affect relationships, jobs, and everything else in life. So how can you heal from it? It seems strange to have to think about what to do after being depressed. You become used to the battle of fighting it and overcoming it. It seems almost foreign to try to heal from it and move past it when it can have such an impact on your life.
The best way to explain coming back after depression is almost like learning to walk all over again. Here are my steps on how I got back on my feet and techniques I used to heal myself.
See a Counsellor
At first, it felt hard to admit to myself I needed help. I actually found a great counselling service in Auckland that was free at the community center in Grey Lynn. It was a relief because at the time I wasn’t working full-time and some counsellors do cost a lot. When I first went to see my counsellor I was a bit of a mess emotionally. I couldn’t sleep, eat properly, and I felt like my personal life was falling apart. So far I’ve seen my counsellor for four months and the techniques she’s shown me have been amazing. All of the traumatic or bad memories in my life I’ve learned to get rid of through letting it go. Speaking to a professional is a relief and it can feel like getting a burden off of your chest because there’s no judgment. I highly recommend it! There are also cheaper options such as Youthline.
Get Out of Bed
I had felt numb for so long, useless, and distant that I didn’t know what to do with myself. I didn’t feel compelled to do anything or go anywhere. You could say I was hibernating in my room like someone who was allergic to the sun. Not having a job at the time made me wonder, why even bother? If I get up I won’t do anything useful or make a difference. Wallowing in self-pity is normal during the recovery stage, but I have to say it can be lonely.
During the bad days, it was a slow routine of getting up out of bed and willing myself to not sleep in past the afternoon. I knew if I did this I’d fall back into bad sleeping habits and feel annoyed for wasting most of the day in bed. To be somewhat proactive I would often watch movies most of the day. Little by little I felt like going out more during the day like getting groceries. I especially like cleaning and since I had a lot more spare time this was rather therapeutic for me doing chores here and there. Since that doesn’t float everyone’s boat even small things like having a shower or going for a walk down the road can be really relaxing. You can reward yourself with an ice cream from the dairy for extra motivation!
Have a Sleep Schedule
Having a sleeping schedule or a set time to go to sleep can help you from sleeping in like mentioned above. My goal was to go to sleep at about 10 pm, which I did most nights. How can this be achieved? Determination and discipline. An amazing mobile app recommended to me was Headspace. It focuses on mediation session, mindfulness, and breathing. Each exercise is only 10 minutes and it’s relaxing with great results. I used it each night to help me sleep. Fast forward a few months and I’m now able to get to bed at about 10 pm, which is a miracle considering I used to have terrible sleeping habits.
Next, back to eating normally. For someone who usually dreams, talks, and thinks about food all day you’d be surprised by my lack of interest in food. The first thing to do was to eat breakfast, if I woke up early enough, and take my medication each morning. Holding the tiny white pills in my hand somehow reassured me that perhaps they’d kick in. Then there was lunch time which is an easy meal to skip. If I was rushing around or felt busy I would often forget to eat. Lastly, there was dinner time which is an easy meal to make. Just remembering to eat is crucial otherwise I’d feel faint and dizzy.
Spend Time with People You Care About
Depression can make you feel like not talking to anyone. So having my partners support was very important to me even on the days where I didn’t want to talk. He is very good at making me laugh and cheering me up, which can be extra hard if you have depression. My family and friends were also always there to lift me up if I was feeling down. Having a support network can help you become stronger.
Since I wasn’t working full-time during my depression I decided to sign up to Sidekicker. It’s a great platform where you can do casual work in hospitality, at events and rugby games. A bonus was seeing concerts while working, and one day bumping into the lead singer of the band Opshop! I really enjoyed it because it suited my schedule so I was kind of like my own boss where I’d choose my hours. It saved me from sitting at home all the time. I also met some really cool and friendly people. Having casual or part-time work can give you a sense of confidence to still be able to pay the bills and have a sense of independence. It took me a few months to find a full-time job, but now I’m confident and in a much better place to succeed. It’s different for everyone, so take it a day at a time.
Look After Yourself
Having depression can drain you both physically and emotionally. Taking care of yourself bit by bit each day can put you in a much better place. While I had my good and bad days, medication, counselling, and staying active has given me a chance to heal. Looking back now I’m stronger and know what makes me tick, what makes me upset, and how to avoid those things. While depression is different for everyone, remember there are always people who have your back. If you’re suffering from depression or know someone who is, being there for them and just listening can make all of the difference.