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The Baby Steps That Pulled Me Out of Depression

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Sometimes, it’s all I can do to force myself out of bed to go to the bathroom. It’s like a heavy blanket of weariness is saturating every muscle in my body, pressing me down and locking my limbs from moving.

Depression for me isn’t always sadness. It isn’t always identifiable by moments of unexplainable crying. Most often, it is a huge wave of mental exhaustion that creates fatigue in my body as well. The exhaustion stems from the erroneous belief that my circumstances will never change. I will never have energy to fight this apathetic attitude that is my own worst enemy. I’m not sad. I’m flat.

Depression has stolen all of my energy and has left me as a shell of a person. Oftentimes, I’m overwhelmed by a sense of defeat. The greatest lie of depression is that it will never get better, that things will never change. Even if it eases up for awhile, it will always come back. It’s this lie that looms in the backdrop of the war zone that is my mind, preventing me from mustering the energy to fight a battle I already think I’m doomed to lose.

I can’t remember the moment I realized I have depression. Depression does not have me. It does not own my mind, my body and my soul. These things are elements of my being that belong solely to me and to no one or no thing.

I can’t remember the moment when this realization gave life to a tiny spark of hope that I could fight. Slowly, painfully, I began to take back the elements of my being depression had stolen from me. I won’t lie. I didn’t do this unaided. It took medication, therapy, God, friends and family to bring me up to a level playing field and to give me the energy to expend that much effort.

It was one small victory at a time. Doing a homework assignment that was a month late because I hadn’t had energy to complete it. Going to class because I could finally get out of bed. Taking only one nap instead of three to make it through the day. Spending time with a friend instead of isolating myself because spending time with another person sucked out too much of my energy. Eating because I could actually taste the food and wanted to eat. Giving smiles because weariness was no longer pushing all of my muscles down.

I remember the first time I laughed after being ravaged by depression. It startled me, as if I had never before made that sound. That feeling of elation, that feeling of conquering little things, gave me something tangible to hold on to. Tiny moments of victory built the rope I used to pull myself out of the dark abyss of depression. Once I got to the top, I knew that I would have to battle to stay there, but that thought didn’t make me as despondent as it once did.

Instead, it encouraged me to make a safety net. I shared my problems with friends and family. I let them know why I had stopped functioning and why I had avoided them.

Letting out the secret of what had incapacitated me loosened the grip that depression had on me. It allowed me to weave a net of support I can draw energy from when the next battle arises. I can catch myself before I tumble down into that dark pit. I do this by remembering that I have depression. Depression does not have me.

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Image via Thinkstock.

Originally published: January 1, 2017
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