How To Rediscover Yourself After Your Depression Diagnosis

Figuring out where you are and where you want to be can be a challenging venture.
Give yourself time, forgiveness and the care you need to get back on your feet.

Remember - your illness does not define you.

Before I was diagnosed with depression over a year ago i was completely oblivious to it, in denial and chose an 'ignorance is bliss' way of life. I was relatively healthy - I ate well, exercised, drank a sensible(ish) level of alcohol and managed to drag myself out of bed without too much trouble.

Gradually, that changed. My idea of walking downstairs and into my kitchen just to grab a glass of water or make myself lunch required a lot of my energy.

When your mental state has plummeted to the lowest of the low, the most mundane tasks can seem like Everest. I'd favour burying myself under a heavy blanket and go as far as to skip a daily shower or cancel plans with friends I'd been looking forward to for months out of pure dread. I'd make an excuse of being broke or had to be up early the next day - anything to avoid a social situation. In reality, i was physically and mentally drained.

Is this what life is like out of the safe environment of full-time education? - A thought I used to think on a daily basis along with a rumination of many other negative thoughts.

Through a long yet continious journey of self-improvement, (we're talking months and months of endurance) - I'm now in a state of mind that's relatively healthy and I feel capable of doing things I once loathed or hesitated to approach. Admitting and accepting your mental health decline is one of the hardest pills to swallow (no pun intended) and getting better is a long journey that requires patience - something I seriously lacked.

Read on to discover the ways I journeyed into a healthy lifestyle and keep my mental illnesses at bay:

Suck out the poisonous snakes in your life

You know in yourself that there are certain individuals who drain the life out of you. They claim to be friends but you invest your time and energy only to be ridiculed. This could be a partner, your best friend or dare I say it - a family member.

Reducing contact or making the brave choice to cut these toxic people of your life is extremely difficult, so do it when you're absolutely ready to. But I promise you - a burden that you never knew existed will lift from your shoulders.

Focus on one 'worry' at a time

Worrying is a natural part of your existence. For someone with anxiety or depression (or both), it's one of the biggest struggles faced on a daily basis.

For example - i worried about money, my photography, my career, my friends, my blog and a whole list of other things that would detract attention away from this blog post. The word worry is engraved into my DNA and it's a part of me I've accepted.

As a sufferer of anxiety and depression - being told to calm down and stop worrying is the most annoying and quite frankly - infuriating thing ever. But through time, practice and patience i'm constantly learning to focus on one of two 'worries' at a time by prioritising things I can directly control.

Things you can control:

  • Finances
  • Who your friends are
  • What you consume daily
  • Wour career
  • Where you live

Things you can't control

  • How others think of you
  • The past and future
  • The outcome of your efforts
  • What happens around you
  • Cats (but we love them anyway)

Realise that what you're feeling is absolutely normal

Never let anyone tell you otherwise. Do you ever get angry, anxious or depressed for a reason you can't pinpoint? Or perhaps you're told to just 'chin up' or you're 'overreacting'.

Everything you feel is felt by you, no one else. Ergo, what you're feeling is unique to your sense of being.

Mend existing relationships

There's always at least one person there for you when you need them the most, even in those moments where you feel totally alone. By making the effort to improve a relationship with a friend, partner or family member, you can create new memories and let them into your world.

Tell those close to you what the crack is

Bad mental health days can get the better of us. By letting those you trust around you that you're not your usual self with let them know you need as much space and/or support as possible.

NEVER stop your feelings in their tracks

We try to stop our feelings through 'distractions' - something we're often advised to undertake in order to stop thinking or worrying about the things that are affecting our mental state. But in reality, distractions are a temporary fix. The moment you have time to think, the moment you're alone - you snap back to the reality of the feelings that kept you trapped.

Progress. Progress is what will get you through. Progress through the feelings you're feeling, understand them, understand what triggers them, go inwards and deep with such feelings, cry if you have to. But never, ever stop the feelings from letting them happen, because they only creep up when you least expect them and manifest intensely that before.

Take the time to help others where you can

Whether that's helping your friend install their new TV or volunteering at a home shelter - find an activity that allows you to give. Seeing the joy on someone else's face as a result of your efforts is one of the most rewarding, empowering and heart-felt things someone suffering with mental illness can feel. It provides purpose, eases internal pain and helps you ease into activities you used to enjoy.

Face medical treatment

Professional help is still frowned upon by some people. I used to hate the idea of taking medication to ease my symptoms but it was one of the best decisions I ever made in my life. It allowed me to ease my symptoms but also understand them as well as what triggers them.

Discover your options and find out what works best for you. There are other routes like talking and art therapy that are fantastic for helping you channel your feelings in a healthy way.

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