My Attempted Escape from Depression – How I cope

Trapped. If I had to describe what depression feels like in one word, that’s the word I would use. It is impossible to put into words just how rubbish this illness feels. It is isolating. It drains out all the energy from you. It seems like it’s impossible to escape from. In many ways, I would say that depression is like being stuck in a small box. With each attempt at trying to get out from the box, the box becomes smaller and smaller. It is truly suffocating.

Depression is way more than just feeling sad. It is a serious medical condition which we all must take seriously. I wish there were some easy cure from it. If only there was some magic trick like saying “donut” three times causing the depression to just disappear. Unfortunately, things are never that simple.

Having suffered from depression for a long time, however, there are some coping strategies that I have learned. I’m not fully out of the woods yet, I might add – but small things like the stuff I am about to mention help me get through the day.

 

Exercise

In many ways, this is quite an annoying one to suggest. After all, anyone who suffers from depression will have been told to go out and exercise. It’s almost frustrating being told to do that all the time, as though people don’t understand that depression can’t just go away by simply exercising.

Whilst that is true, I have found exercise to be beneficial in taking my mind off things. It gives me the sense of striving towards some goal in a way to better myself, helping to raise my self-esteem at the same time. Not only that, but it is also extremely satisfying seeing myself getting better and better with each session. This is true for any exercise that I enjoy, be it swimming, running or playing cricket.

The biggest difficulty in starting to exercise, however, is exactly that – starting it. Being depressed makes it even worse, for we tend to lose pleasure in things like exercising. This can make it very difficult to motivate ourselves to actually going out and trying this. My advice to overcome this would be to start small. I remember how unmotivated I was when I initially started. I started off exercising for only about ten minutes a day. Slowly, I built up and now I am doing over two hours. Even better, I’m actually enjoying it!

 

Keeping a ‘Positive Jar’

As I’ve already alluded to, depression is a massive thief of self-esteem. For a long time, I felt inadequate. I felt as though I was unwanted, as though I was useless. This can be very dangerous in extreme cases, so it is important to try to address it. Many people will have their own ways of addressing this but my favourite is to keep a ‘positive jar’.

All you will need is an empty jar, sticky notes and a pen. Everyone has good traits, so start off by writing a good trait of yours on a sticky note, fold it and put it in the jar. Then, whenever something good happens or whenever someone says something good about you, be sure to make a note of it and put it in the jar.

Whenever you are having a bad bout of depression, randomly pick out a note from the jar. Goodness knows how much we need a small smile during a bad period, and this method has helped me immensely.

 

Talk to Close Friends and Family

Of all my suggestions, this is probably the most difficult one to do. Admittedly, the levels of difficulty will be different for each individual depending on their relationship with others.

Many people, including myself for a time, feel scared to open up about their depression. For some, it is the fear of how others may react. For others like me, it may be a case of trying to open up but not getting the desired understanding. It is a once bitten, twice shy situation.

It is important to realise, however, that not all of our friends or family will be dismissive of our issues. In my case, I can’t thank my family enough for how they’ve been there for me. The way in which they always listened to me, allowing me to release any frustrations from my symptoms and showing me that I had people who cared was absolutely touching. Sure, it was difficult seeing others but that gave me another lesson – it helped me realise who my true friends were. In the long run, this turned out to be one of the best things that could have happened.

It ends up becoming a win-win situation. Admittedly, things may get a bit more painful before they get better, but boy do they do get better.

 

The Seconds Hand of a Clock

This is my strangest method.

One appointment with my psychiatrist, I was feeling absolutely miserable. I felt as though I would have no way out. Then my psychiatrist said something really simple to me, but something which I found very helpful: “I promise you, depression is completely curable. You will get through this.”

That has become my mantra. Whenever I am feeling miserable, I look at the seconds hand of a clock. With each tick of the clock, I tell myself, I am one second closer to the cure coming. With each tick of the clock, I am one second closer to beating my depression. With each tick of the clock, I am one second closer to becoming happy again.

The time of recovery will surely come.

 

Many thanks to TheDepressedMedStudent for this blog. You can find out more and follow them here:

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