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10 Things I Learned Overcoming Depression

Depression is real. Depression is crippling. It affects how you focus, feeds hopelessness, negatively impacts your relationships; and in severe cases, devolves into suicidal ideations. I’ve been here before – watching the world get along and wondering why everything in my life was falling apart; I was blaming others for my mess, feeling worthless, taking no enjoyment in things I used to love, and feeling self-pity.  Eventually, I hit rock bottom. With a strained marriage on the verge of divorce, no savings, a grunt job that led nowhere while utilizing zero percent of my talents. It was here I had to decide what kind of man I was going to be. It was a very tough time in my life. However, some of the greatest lessons I’ve ever learned were taught while facing my demons.  Like Paul tells us in Philippians 3:12-14, I haven’t arrived, but I keep pressing!

Now, I get to share these 10 things I’ve learned while overcoming depression with you:

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1. Who My Real Friends Were.

Feeling low didn’t just affect me, it affected everyone around me.  Many did not understand what is going on with me.  I didn’t either.  I’ve seen those who I considered my closest friends disappear when I was at my lowest.  However, there were those who recognized that I wasn’t myself and urged me to seek help, even when I didn’t want it. Though few, they stuck by me through my worst days. Though it was difficult, I am thankful for those sifting days because, in them, I realized who my true friends were.

2. How to Speak to Me Differently.

Struggling with depression is like having someone in your head telling you repeatedly that you are a horrible person. You dwell on every mistake and find it very difficult to cope with life as a result. The turning point for me was realizing how to combat those negative thoughts. It may seem corny, but positive thinking and self-talk really work. Intentionality and consistency were key.

3. Self Care is a Priority

Depression can be onset by a lack of self-care. I had to understand that no one will take care of me better than me. Bad days come and go.  It’s apart of life.  Remember, you are entitled to a break every once in a while. Don’t deprive yourself of what you love to do.  Making time for yourself will bring you back to your center. So, make it a top priority to dance, sing, go out with friends, relax, travel, or whatever makes you happy…even if you don’t feel like it.

4. Don’t Revisit Stressful Situations

This one is like a simple math problem. 1 + 1 = 2. Stressful situations will stress you out. So, avoid them, if possible.  If it stressed you out before, it will most likely stress you out again. It’s best not to travel down that road a second time. No address on that street is worth visiting (this goes for toxic people as well…).

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Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash

5. Patience with Others

No one is perfect.  No one.  Everyone is trying to figure life out, just like you. Allow them space to mess up.  Be kind and patient.  You’ll gain a life-long friend in return.

6. Patience with Yourself

You are not perfect. You’ve messed up and it won’t be the last time you do, and it’s okay!  It’s not like you lived life before. You will always be figuring it out.  Guess what?  You’re in good company!  Everyone is just trying to figure it out.  Breathe.  Give yourself a chance to get it right.  You’ll love yourself more for it.

7. You Can’t Stop Problems from Coming, but you can certainly Control How You Respond.

There’s a song that is sung in church entitled, “I Won’t Complain”.  It tells the familiar story of how good and bad days come and go.  It’s a fact of life.  We can either accept and learn from them or whine, complain, brood, and act out.  Either is your choice, but the consequences can be worse for negative responses than if a cooler head is kept.  When things don’t go your way, or rather as you might have planned them, think about how your response may impact that situation and your life. Don’t exacerbate an issue with reactionary emotions. Wisdom is found in quietness and patience.

 

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8. The Benefits of Seeking Help

The truth is: You don’t know what you don’t know!  There is no shame in seeking help, whether it be from a trusted friend or a professional.  Whatever helps you to be better, you should seek after it.  Again, navigating this life is tricky, and you haven’t done this before!  It’s ok! Seek the advice of someone who can help you sort through how you feel and help guide you down the right path.

9. Writing Down Your Thoughts and Goals is Powerful.

This is a companion to positive self-talk.  Writing about how you feel helps to sort through complex emotions. Did you know that writing down your goals and a routine helps with confidence and gives you purpose? Try keeping a journal. You’d be surprised at how much better you’ll feel, and over time, you’ll get to see how far you’ve come!

“Face the thing you fear the most and the death of fear is certain” – Bob Safford

10. How to Face Your Fears

One of the causes of depression is the inability to cope with your own mistakes.  This inability to cope may be rooted in a fear of what’s next.  It’s hard to see beyond where you are and how to get to what’s better. There are many ways to navigate through this. Again, writing out a plan is powerfully effective way of regaining control of your life.  You can also find a friend or loved to help you to see a better future.  It requires hard work of course, but it worth it. A wealthy man I met some years ago told me that if you do the thing you fear the most, then the death of fear is certain.  Depression takes so much away from our lives. What more do you have to lose by facing your fears? Rock bottom is a great place because you can only go up from there!

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Photo by mwangi gatheca on Unsplash

Don’t let depression rob you of your happiness! Get help and restore your joy!  If you’re in a crisis, don’t go through it alone.  Call the Suicide Prevention Lifeline: No matter what problems you are dealing with, there are people who want to help you find a reason to keep living. By calling 1-800-273-TALK (8255), you’ll be connected with a skilled, trained counselor at a crisis center in your area, anytime 24/7.

I’ve been through it, and you can get through it, too.

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