After everything is said and done, I am my own hero

Maybe friendship is overrated, maybe you would never find the perfect friend in someone. But what better friend can you have than yourself? When there is no one around to help you with your mental illness, you can decide to do something for yourself. I call it self-help.
Living with depression comes with struggles, ups and downs, good days and bad days, and you may not want to go through your struggle alone, but when no one seems to be there, the best you can do is to be there for yourself. Accepting and taking charge of your condition is the first step towards recovery.
I recommend these self-help tips

  • Keep a log of your day

Keep track of what you are able or not able to do daily, either in writing or by voice notes. Record your feelings, ask yourself questions about the progress you have made, and the drawbacks you’ve had.

  • Don’t be hard on yourself

Good days and bad days will come. The good days will give you the hope that you are a survivor and can make it. Knowing your good days will help you identify the things that made it good and how to achieve more of them. From bad days, you will learn about what should be improved and help you identify triggers to bad days.

  • Set little but achievable daily goals for yourself

Although daily chores may be hard for you to carry through, you can set them as targets for yourself. Little things like making your bed and brushing your teeth give you back some control over your life. At the end of the day, all you care about is you could achieve something, you weren’t that hopeless.

  • Be spontaneous

Even though you may feel comfortable and would want to stick to your routine, do something out of the blue occasionally. Do something you haven’t done in a long while. Allowing some variation in your life would boost your morale and give a sense of hopefulness, you are not a lost cause after all.

  • Give yourself time to recover

Recovery, be it being able to get out of bed or getting back to your life or being able to carry out tasks you used to perform in the past, takes time. Whiles taking your medication and availing yourself for psychotherapy be patient with yourself. Results don’t spring up overnight. The little efforts you make each day contribute to the bigger picture of your recovery.

Above all, remember to take each day at a time. There is no need to be in a rush to figure out how tomorrow will unfold. Concentrate on getting out of today alive. Tomorrow will take care of itself when it comes. But for now, it is today that matters. And when things don’t always go as you’d have wanted, forgive yourself. You will have another day to try again.
Keep living. You are not alone and when you can, talk to someone about how you feel.

 

Everything but physical pain

How would you explain the fact that you are sick, to someone when you have no physical evidence to show? It is easy for people to understand that you are hurting and having pains from a toothache, but hurting from depression? It is almost impossible to explain if the person you are talking to has never been there.

The absence of physical pain is a driving factor and may go on to explain why depressed people would mutilate themselves to provide evidence of their illness to doubters. In his accounts of his experiences with depression, Andrew Solomon recounts how he tried to infect himself with HIV so he could kill himself with it as an excuse. Although I find it crude and extreme, he explains, “I needed something I believed in, something to show so that everyone would understand how desperate I was. I had to give up the invisible impediment for a manifest one”. This wish for self-harm, I have come to learn is a common occurrence for depressives who resort to physical harm to bring the physical state in line with the mental. They often do not care which form it takes, be overdosing on drugs, injuring themselves or in extremes, attempting suicide, but that doesn’t mean there’s nothing you can do about it.

This is what you could do:

  • Keep a log of your depressed mood shifts, what’s going on around you at the time, and what your thoughts and feelings were.
  • Learn to identify triggers, and develop some control because then you can strategize how to avoid or respond differently to things that make you feel bad and want to self-destruct.

This helps you gain some awareness; the fact that there are explanations for your mood shifts and the realization that your depressive episodes are not isolated events but may be linked to some triggers.
Depression may not be a physical illness, but it is a mentally and emotionally painful illness that can rid you of your will to live and affect every area of your life. When you feel like hurting yourself to prove to others the extremity of your pain, remember you can always talk to someone.

 

A new dawn

It is a new year, a new dawn and a new beginning for some of us. Many are the aspirations and resolutions. Many are the hopes of reaching the targets we have set for ourselves. The dreams of yesteryears, which we were unable to achieve, we are more determined to achieve. Others are empowered to build on the achievements and successes they chalked up.

Our expectations are high, the pressure to achieve them will mount and our anxieties will rise. But every new dawn presents us with opportunities to make amends, to right the wrongs and to move a step closer to our goals. So, let’s remember to take each day at a time and never lose hope. When we fall, let’s remember to rise and keep going. The journey won’t be easy, but step by step, we will reach there.

After all is said and done, ask for guidance and counsel when the need be. Someone has been where you are before and there will be someone to take your place when you leave. Like the adage in my mother tongue goes, “the one who asks for directions doesn’t get lost”. Talk to someone, Seek help.

Happy and a prosperous new year. May we never give up and strive to be better versions of ourselves.

Your team at your service, #LTD #Let’s Talk Depression

Depression is ruining my Christmas

It’s the festive season and there is so much merry. Everyone seems to be happy, except me. Everyone is making plans, visiting and inviting family over. People are shopping, buying stuff for themselves and others. Gifts are being exchanged. People who haven’t spoken to each other in a long while reach out. Yet, here I am, locked up in my head and struggling to go about my daily routine.

And I ask myself, can I just be this way or do I need to pretend to also be merry. Am I allowed to be depressed during this time or should I fake happiness? Do I have to reach out to people who I haven’t spoken to in a long while, or keep thinking this festive season is overrated? Can I just not care about anyone but myself?

But then, this is the depressed me talking because deep down I’d love to be with the people I love and care about. I’d love to be with family and friends. So when I am this way, please be patient with me and permit me the space to be depressed. But don’t take your love away from me. You are family and I value our relationship.

Your love and care will help me heal. So before I get on your nerves and push you away, I would like to wish you a Merry Christmas and a supportive 2018 with less drama.

 

You are no different from me

How different are we from each other? Are we even different at all? Don’t we all have demons we are battling with? We are all fighting. Maybe different things, but we are still fighting. Be it physical, mental or spiritual. The depressed, the sick, the addict; we all want one thing, to be sane, to be whole.

But even the sane, are you sure you are sane? We all live with so much uncertainty and so much want; a better tomorrow, a job, a promotion, a partner, a child, a climb up the social ladder. The list is endless. What won’t we give to gain them all?

But then you know what I want? I want just one thing: to be able to feel something else apart from depression, apart from fear and sadness. I want to feel pain, I want to feel anger, I want to feel love, I want to feel joy. I want to feel everything that makes me human. I want to feel everything you feel that you take for granted. I want it so much.

So just because you have control over your wants and I don’t, doesn’t mean you are different from me. No, you are not! You are just like me. So, the next time you want to judge, STOP! and ask yourself, am I any different from this person. Because, deep down, we are all fighting, we are fighting to survive, we are fighting to achieve something.

“Do you expect help, when you do not help others?”

What would you consider as helpful enough though? Lending a hand to someone who requires assistance in whatever form it may be, pointing someone in the right direction if they are lost, or simply being present for someone in need of comfort? No matter which form of help you offer, no form of help is insignificant.

And this brings me to the last but definitely not the end of the blog series on supporting someone battling depression. Just to recount what I shared in the last couple of weeks; Inform yourself about depression so you are better equipped to identify it when it rears its head, secondly we spoke of availing yourself to assist someone going through depression when the need be. After you have done all the above, but you still do not feel confident enough to assist the person, you could recommend the person to a trustee. Even after that do not leave them alone, offer to accompany them when they talk to this person. They may need a familiar presence to assure them they are not alone in this.

Never turn down an opportunity to help someone. You never know how far it may go to relieve the person of a problem and you also do not know when you will need theirs. Life becomes much easier when we work together and have people to count on. Be that shoulder, be that hand. Be the help someone needs.

Be that someone somebody talks to.

I know I can count on you in good times, what about bad times ??????

We are social beings and we thrive on interactions and connection with others, be it family, friends, colleagues or acquaintances. We cherish moments with others and as such wherever we find ourselves, we strive to establish connections with others, either momentarily or long-term. We love it when we have people to share experiences and make memories with.

But how do we feel, when our desires to love and be loved, to accept and to be accepted are not fulfilled? And what about when a connection we had with someone is severed, such that it no longer is what it used to be? How about when you are going through a difficulty and there is no one you could count on, especially if you would have wanted someone in your close circle? It hurts to be disappointed, but it hurts more when your friends are not reliable enough to help you out of a difficulty.

It is easy to look to others for solace and comfort, but maybe, it is about time we ask ourselves if we are ever at any point in time, able to offer comfort to someone going through a difficulty, or better still someone battling depression (since it is the focus of this blog). It is very easy to lose your cool with a depressed person, the feeling that they are being insensitive and would want your undivided attention and care. It is not easy to live with a depressed person. They have special needs and they can only pull through and out of their condition with the right assistance.

In last week’s episode, I mentioned how you could help a depressed person (Click this link if you missed last week’s post Help me, but inform yourself first of my condition). And now that you know how to identify warning signs of depression, the next big thing you could do is to Talk with the person you are concerned about.

But then, it is not just about talking, it is about “listening without being judgmental”. This isn’t the time to play the “I think you are right/ wrong card”. Because you know what, knowing does a better job of devaluing themselves than a depressed person. They have already condemned themselves and you wouldn’t want to compound that feeling. Remember, it is not about you and it will never be about you. It is about a friend you are concerned about and want to help. Besides, you wouldn’t want to give the impression that what they are going through is a fault of theirs.  Instead, what they need from you is love, care and support. You may not be available 24/7 for them, but to a depressed person, it would mean so much more than companionship, to know there is someone looking out for them and someone to count on. After all, we believe recovery is assured when we have a support system and work collectively.

Together, we can heal. Be the help someone needs.

Seek help, Find help