Written and verified by the psychologist GetPersonalGrowth.
Last update: 15 November 2021
Depression had shrunk me to the point that I was in the dark hidden spaces of a shell. From there I listened to the noise of the world in the heavy distance of my solitude. I also heard the murmur of those who judged me weak, of those who told me that I had to recover, because life is short. However, my depression lasted five years, long enough to get to know it completely.
Often people who overcome a mental illness or a particularly serious illness are attributed the epithet of heroes, characteristics such as the value and courage shown in facing their difficult moment are highlighted. Anyone who has faced a moment like this knows well that there are vital moments in which there is no other option, there is no alternative way out but to be strong and avoid the worst enemy of all: surrender.
“Pain is not meant to make us suffer. Pain serves to make us aware. And when you are aware, bad luck disappears "
On the other hand, the studies and reports of the WHO continually point out that the rate of depressive disorders continues to rise year after year. Curiously, however, these data do not give information on the people who come out of this deep pit where the law that marks sadness reigns.
This is mainly due to a fact that was highlighted during this year's WHO congress. 7 out of 10 people are not getting the right treatment, with which the shadow of depression as it comes goes away, and when it occurs usually we resort to drugs. There would therefore be a need for a more holistic, multifactorial approach.
Depression that is not treated properly gradually becomes a suffocating roommate that puts chaos in our minds, that closes the windows and lowers the curtains of our hope, to achieve what she likes so much: to make us prisoners of ourselves. It is not easy to make order in such chaos. It is not easy to get it out, clean it up, make it smaller ...
Yet even the most severe depression can be overcome with proper treatment. And when we do, it leaves us with important lessons that are worth keeping in mind.
1. Clearing the stigma of depression
Depression continues to be a stigma. It does not matter if we are in the information age, if we have access to a multiplicity of information ... None of this matters, because we don't talk about depression, it is an uncomfortable and complicated topic of conversation, sometimes it can even be a real taboo. It is, for example, on many occasions when a mother who has recently given birth does not feel able to manage her life and take care of her newborn child.
How can the people around her understand that she suffers from postpartum depression if the "natural" reaction is to feel happier than ever? Also, if we did a survey to probe people's views on depression in general, terms such as "weakness", "woman" or "surrender" would likely emerge.
These totally distorted ideas lead very often people are confined to the prison of their own silence, in fear of the judgment of others and of the looks they observe without understanding. This is how isolation arises, due to the misunderstanding that depressed people feel outside of the bubble they have created to protect themselves.
We must know that depression does not discriminate, it can affect everyone regardless of sex, social class or lifestyle. And often, this must be clear, it is the strongest people who generally fall into this deep abyss.
2. Depression never comes by itself
Depression usually comes accompanied by bitter and devoted allies, such as anxiety or panic disorders or stress… Many people compare this situation to being inside an airplane about to crash.
The heart accelerates, constant fear makes us unable to maintain control over our life, transforms us into people who do not sleep or oversleep, who eat almost nothing or, on the contrary, have a hedonistic hunger.
Each individual presents a precise symptomatology that will gradually give shape to a dark kaleidoscope of infinite shades and bitter sufferings. And so you will find yourself, almost overnight, taking antidepressants to treat anxiety, beta-blockers to slow the speeding heart, drugs to reduce nausea, and pills to sleep at night.
3. I am now much more compassionate to myself
Depression is not cured in a month, not even in two. Sometimes it takes years. Everyone lives the process in his own way, each emerges from the solitary meanders of his shell with his rhythm and his music. It's like finding your way back home after getting lost in a desert, groping, without a precise direction, without a compass, without strength… and without the hope of ever being able to get out.
- From depression you learn and unlearn. Because sometimes it is necessary to leave many things behind, change habits, re-evaluate some vital goals and above all get rid of the classic idea that we can deal with everything.
- Overcoming this disease helps us to develop a much more compassionate inner voice, which has learned to say "stop, take some time for yourself", "stop these thoughts, there is no need to be so demanding with yourself" ...
"I don't want to be free from dangers, I just want to have the courage to face them"
To conclude, this same compassion allows us to get more in touch with what is born within us, to understand our needs, our limitations, and why not, to always keep at hand this box of tools with which to keep away the "Black dog" of depression - as Winston Churchill himself called it.
Everyone will put into this precious first aid box what works for him or her: writing, sports, walks, reading, a chat with friends ... These are strategies to be cultivated every day, emotionally positive and healing habits that keep us afloat, that save us and that bring us closer to this version of we like ourselves the most: people who smile again.