5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Was Diagnosed With Depression
I used to cry myself to sleep every night. I walked around the cold Chicago city feeling lifeless, numb and bored with life. At night the tears would always creep aggressively back in and rock me to sleep. I would obsess over my day and feel tremendous guilt and anxiety tied to my eating disorders, drug addictions, poor choices in men and staying in a job I hated. These bad feelings would just push me back to my bad behaviors. I would do whatever I could to avoid the sinking feeling that I hated my life and myself, so I tried to numb myself with food, drugs, codependent relationships etc. It was a vicious cycle.
Realizing something was wrong, I went to my doctor. She diagnosed me with clinical depression and wrote me a prescription. As I opened the door to the pharmacy, an invisible wall pushed me back. It was as if a force-field had sprung up in front of me, preventing me from getting the prescription filled. As I looked at the scribbled piece of paper, I had an awakening. Although I knew depression is a real, serious mood disorder that requires treatment — and for many, antidepressant drugs are necessary — my inner voice said, “This is not you; you don’t need these drugs to feel better. Just follow your heart.”I’m not quite sure where that conviction came from. Although I believe we all have that inner knowing of who we are and what we personally need, that voice had been muffled so long, drowned out with the thoughts of self-hatred that tormented me. That moment was the turning point of my life. As I ripped up the prescription, I made a promise to myself to always follow my heart and to start to ask myself why am I so unhappy. I realized, in that moment, that I couldn’t control the world around me but I could learn how to control my own role in my life. I could continue to allow the world to happen to me, or I could happen to the world, meaning I could make a difference by becoming healthy and happy.
I’m not quite sure where that conviction came from. Although I believe we all have that inner knowing of who we are and what we personally need, that voice had been muffled so long, drowned out with the thoughts of self-hatred that tormented me. That moment was the turning point of my life. As I ripped up the prescription, I made a promise to myself to always follow my heart and to start to ask myself why am I so unhappy. I realized, in that moment, that I couldn’t control the world around me but I could learn how to control my own role in my life. I could continue to allow the world to happen to me, or I could happen to the world, meaning I could make a difference by becoming healthy and happy.
My thought was that if one less person in the world was hurting, then that is making a difference and helping the world. So I chose to take responsibility for me — no one else, just me. And the most glorious thing happened; I became happy. I found myself. I fell in love with my life and myself.
Instead of focusing on my diagnoses, I focused on wellness. I put my attention to healing and moving through the pain instead of allowing that to be my final outcome. Looking back on the years I struggled silently in my depression, I realize there are things I’ve learned from this painful time.
Here are 5 things I wish someone told me before I was diagnosed with depression.
1. Rock Bottom Is the Premier Catalyst for Change
What I’ve learned is that in our darkness, if we are open, we can find the light. I hit rock bottom and it was the biggest blessing, as it served as a shift for me to focus forward and pull my life together. It was a wake-up call and opportunity for realignment to my true self. The pain, addiction, sadness and grief we experience are nothing to be ashamed of. It is an opportunity for personal growth and self-understanding. If you are going through a difficult time right now, you are not alone. You are being groomed for greatness. Give yourself the ultimate gift of living a fulfilled life by being present in your journey.
2. There Is Healing in Sharing Your Story
Have you ever noticed your favorite song lyrics, a bestselling book or a memorable movie are drenched in emotion and epic battles of self-discovery? There is always pain, but there can be beauty in breakdown. When we share ourselves with others — when we open ourselves up to be seen and cared for — we also build connections.
3. Comparing Yourself to Others Just Keeps You Stuck
When we look outside of ourselves at other people, we often self-sabotage our efforts to heal. We think things like “they have it all together, or they seem to be healthier or happier, I must be doing something wrong.” We blame ourselves and become victims. Remember this: If you are alive, you will struggle. Take comfort in knowing that part of being human is to know the struggle brings clarity. You can live your life fully by going into each moment and embracing it.
4. Thinking You Don’t Have a Choice Is a Choice
We may not have a choice about our diagnoses or actual situation, but we have full control over the way we move forward and perceive each situation. Make an intentional effort to focus on the healing instead of the struggle.
5. Trust Life More
If the situation you are in is causing you more stress than joy, it is a clear sign the situation has expired. A lot of the times we stay stuck because we are holding on to things we are supposed to let go of. So let go and watch yourself feel more freedom and joy. The reason most of us don’t let go is because we don’t have full faith in our future. Dig within yourself to find the courage to trust yourself and your life, because when you take steps one step at a time, your path will reveal itself — but you must first take the step.
Editor’s note: This story reflects an individual’s experience. We believe in sharing a variety of perspectives from our community. Please see a doctor before starting or stopping a medication.
If you or a loved one is affected by addiction and need help, you can call SAMHSA’s hotline at 1-800-662-4357.
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