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The Beauty of Healing From a Depressive Episode

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Depression is something most people will come across at some point in their lives — I don’t believe there’s a person who can go through life without experiencing it at some level. For me though, I have what are called depressive episodes every year, usually more than once.

I live with type 2 bipolar, and my depressive episodes can be horrendous. I want to talk about the beauty of healing from them, and about my most recent episode.

This year has been an awful one for a lot of people. For me, it was the final straw of a two year long struggle. I had been on and off with depression for so long, suppressing how I really felt and doing anything I could to ignore what was going on inside my head. In October 2019, I started to feel myself unraveling. I couldn’t hold the brave face anymore and I felt myself crumbling. I felt like I was going in circles, all the coping mechanisms I had taught myself weren’t working anymore and I was reverting back to old habits. I gave up on everything I loved doing and socializing. I was having frequent anxiety attacks that left me recovering for days as they kept coming in waves. I was self-harming again, something I’d originally stopped doing in my early years of diagnosis. I was reliving trauma I still hadn’t processed and trying to cope with the impact of the pandemic at the same time. I was completely overwhelmed and exhausted. I closed myself off and and let myself fall into the darkest pit of my mind.

Depression leads you to believe there is no way out, that you’ll be stuck in the depths of your own negative thoughts and behaviors forever, but there is a way out. There always is.

There’s this point that you hit where you really start wondering if you’ll make it through this time around. I was waking up thinking that for a whole year, until I finally got fed up. I started knocking back every intrusive thought I had: I do have people who love and care about me, I have an amazing partner who isn’t sick of me, I haven’t failed at life, this won’t last forever.

I started off with small steps. I knew if I rushed into getting back on my feet it will overwhelm me and set off my anxiety. I started to pick up on the things I had abandoned months ago. I started to exercise again to keep me motivated, I started eating better as most days I was only eating once or twice a day. I slowly started to talk about how I felt and things I had suppressed for so long and I created my own boundaries with people in my life. This was the biggest turn around for me, because I always thought people were ignoring me when I’d try to open up, but the truth was I was choosing the wrong people to open too.

The beauty of healing from depressive episodes is that you can finally see the happy end you were hoping for. It’s being able to look back and say to yourself it really is going to pass and it’s not something that lasts forever. You can see that your mind is stronger than it leads you to believe, and all the hard work you put into healing yourself does come into effect. One thing I struggled with for so long was how much time it would take for me to heal; there is no time limit on healing. If it’s going to take me six months then it’s going to take me six months.

You reach this moment where you can start to appreciate the beauty of life again, and the beauty of connecting to people who take the time to understand you properly and still love you. You learn that you actually aren’t alone, and there’s so many other people in the world you can connect to that have gone through similar experiences on various levels. You can feel the strength that builds inside of you because you beat something that you once thought was going to consume you, and that’s something to be admired.

The best part about healing for me though is finding even more strength to advocate for my own illness and not see it as a burden but something I can learn to live with, and I hope I can inspire other people too.

Getty image via Ponomariova_Maria

Originally published: December 30, 2020
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