Everyone’s depression is different. Looks different. Feels different. Therefore, everyone deals with depression differently.
I have shared my story, because I think my depression was largely circumstantial. However, there are times when it happens for no reason at all.
If you are currently experiencing depression or feelings of hopelessness, please reach out to a professional or someone you can trust.You don’t have to go through this alone.
The most important lesson I’ve learned through all of this is that there’s nothing wrong with being depressed. It’s nothing to be ashamed of, and it’s not permanent.
As with most things in life, freedom from depression can be achieved through time and effort. But you have to be ready to work for it.
I wasn’t truly ready until I returned from the wedding.
At that point, I knew something had to change.
I also knew that I had to do it for myself. My failed relationships had taught me that no one else was responsible for fixing me. I had to do it all on my own.
The first step I took, was to finally embrace my anger.
I was angry at my dad for never being around when I was little.
I was angry at my brother for not being there for me.
And of course, most of all, I was angry at my mom for… everything I’ve written about previously.
All that anger was the albatross I had been carrying on my neck for so many years. I had tried to pretend it wasn’t there, but the fight with my mom in Hawaii had proved that it was.
So, I confronted it head on, starting with my mom.
There’s something incredibly terrifying about telling your own mother that you feel like she failed you. That you feel like she wasn’t a mother at all. That as much as you love her, you also kind of hate her.
It was the hardest conversation I’ve ever had, and I’m sure it still hurts her to this day that I said those things.
But it helped me, and for once in my life, I had to be selfish and do what we necessary for my survival.
At first I felt only guilt and fear that she would start drinking again, but eventually things started falling into place. I found the self that I had been missing for so many years.
As they say, the truth will set you free.
The experience taught me that you can’t assume that people know how you feel.
I thought it was obvious to my mom why and how she had hurt me, but it wasn’t. She was too wrapped up in her own grief and depression and then healing that she hadn’t noticed.
Telling her opened the door and allowed our relationship to evolve. At last, my mom and I were able to form a new relationship. A real one.
One that we could both acknowledge had it’s flaws. One that we both knew would never be perfect. One that was ours nonetheless.
I’ve learned that the most meaningful relationships tend to be the ones that have overcome the most obstacles.
I’ve also learned that people can change.
Aside from that one drink in Hawaii, my mom will have been sober for four years this November. In high school, I never would have believed that was possible.
There are some things that I can never change – like my Pavlovian response to immediately start crying if I’m yelled at, the recurring dreams I have that she’s drinking again, or the sick feeling I get when I can’t get ahold of her on the phone.
But I am grateful every day that she’s better, and that she’s in my life.
Once the anger was gone, the second step was to own up to the depression.
I had always been a functional depressed person. I hid it very well. To the untrained eye, I seemed perfectly happy.
But hidden pain is often the worst pain. There’s nothing more lonely than acting happy all day, and then going to bed and crying yourself to sleep thinking that no one is there for you.
The fact is, that people can’t help you unless you let them. I had to stop concealing my feelings from the people I cared about and own up to what was going on.
So I stopped hiding it and I let people in again, including my dad and my brother, whom I formed incredible new relationships with over time.
I didn’t depend on anyone to do anything, but I let myself admit what was going on to my friends and family.
Having let go of both the anger and the secret, I was able to really move forward.
The third step, which was the most important and helpful to me, was to invest in myself and find things I loved to do.
I started blogging, and I poured myself into it. I started the blog by admitting I was unhappy, and vowing to work to find happiness. I didn’t know it at the time, but I was already on my way.
It may sound oversimplified, but I truly believe that happiness is something that you can seek out and find. As with any other goal, you just have to stay on track and focus on what you want to achieve.
It took about a year and a half of hard work and setbacks, but I am there now.
Nothing miraculous happened, I just went after something that I wanted and achieved it.
I started running and treating my body right, because I knew I deserved it.
I got out of my comfort zone and met new people.
I let go of old grudges and strengthened my relationships.
I held tight to my faith, and prayed like crazy.
Before, most days I had merely been surviving – forcing myself out of bed, forcing myself to get through the day, and going back to bed.
Now, I had something to get up for. I had things to do each day that made me happy. I was living again, and I was doing it just for me – all on my own.
It took time and patience, but slowly I started feeling happy again.
Happiness to be alive.
Happiness to have chances and opportunities and abilities.
It’s really all about perspective.
I wasn’t happy because of anyone else, I was happy because I decided to love myself again.
I wasn’t happy because the world in which I was living was different, I was happy because I was seeing the world differently.
I was happy because I was able to accept the hardships and know that they made me stronger.
If you take anything away from these posts, let it be this.
Depression is beatable.
It’s hard and ugly and there is no quick fix, but it is not permanent.
Life isn’t perfect. I still have bad days, bad weeks, bad months even. But where I once chose hopelessness and defeat, I now choose happiness and hope.
I know now that things do get better, things can change, and that life is joyous.
There is so much heartache in the world we live in today, but we were put on this earth with one life and one chance to choose happiness.
How we find it can vary, but I promise that it is there.
(Thank you for reading this series. If you have any questions about anything I’ve written or if you just need someone to talk to please send me an email I would be more than happy to listen.)