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5 Life Lessons I’ve Learned Through Living With Depression

Depression – a deep hole I have been constantly trying to get out of. When I was diagnosed with major depressive disorder (MDD), I had no idea what it meant. I had no clue what it was but what I did know is how it felt.

It was like this giant black hole, constantly dragging me down — a giant cloud engulfing every bit of me. The odd thing was, I didn’t even realize how deep a hole I was in until I started facing it, until I finally had the courage to admit to myself that I had depression and there was no sense in masking or denying it to myself.

Now, I’m not going to say I have conquered depression because the truth is I haven’t; I may even be far from doing that, but I’m learning to cope with it each and every day. I’m still constantly trying to find a life that won’t consume me.

However, living with depression has also taught me great lessons that have helped me cope.

Here are five lessons I’ve learned from living with depression:

1. Forgiveness is the key.

What I discovered from constant visits with my therapist was this: My depression was rooted in my childhood. I was constantly being compared to other people and I was never good enough for the people I love. I felt the need to always prove myself and gain others’ approval. I never felt that being myself was enough, and the reason why I never learned to let that thought go was because I never learned to forgive the people who caused that; I took their words with me. Now, the moment I learned to forgive them, I also started forgiving myself. I started seeing that I was enough, that I didn’t need other people’s approval; I only needed mine.

2. Save some for yourself.

You can’t pour from an empty cup. Putting other people’s needs first is not bad, but it’s also not healthy if you do it all the time, to the point where you start forgetting yourself. Remember: For you to be able to love others, you must also learn to truly love yourself first. Stop saying yes when you truly mean no. This has been one of my mistakes, I forgot to take care of myself; I gave until there was nothing left of me. I then realized I lost a big part of myself because of doing that, a part I may not even be able to take back. That’s the reason why you should never be afraid to put yourself first.

3. Not everyone will understand (and that’s OK).

You can’t expect everyone to understand what you’re going through. Your close friends or family members may judge you or even sometimes question what you feel. That was devastating for me, making it harder to open up with the fear of being judged or questioned. I learned the people who truly love you will choose to listen. They may not fully understand what you’re going through, but they will try and try and try until they get through you. And when that happens, don’t push them away. I know how easy it is to isolate ourselves, but just remember they are the ones who truly matter. Not everyone has the patience to listen and try to get through us.

4. Hard times will always reveal the truest gems.

I never really had a big friend circle. I had a few close friends, a couple acquaintances, but even with that small number, only a few people still stayed and listened without any judgments, without any bullshit. Some may try to pretend they care, but at the end of the day, you will know they don’t give a crap what you truly feel. Difficult times will always reveal the most genuine people.

5. Don’t be afraid to seek professional help.

I had a hard time grasping what I truly feel. I didn’t understand what was going on; I was blessed to be encouraged by the people I love to seek professional help, and after a couple visits with my therapist, I discovered that opening up and talking about what I felt to her helped. It helped me a lot. It gave me a sense of clarity toward the emotions I felt and for me, that was comforting.

If you are also dealing with a mental illness, please know you are not alone. There will always be hope! There will always be people who will listen, people who care and love you unconditionally. I know how difficult it is to believe anything positive could happen but trust me, positive things do happen. So, don’t give up and let’s continue fighting it together.

A version of this article was originally published on the author’s blog.

Photo by Chris Hsiao on Unsplash