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How I Stopped Surrendering to My Depression

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I don’t know if I’ll ever be fully recovered from depression. I am battling a major depressive disorder that affected me for as long as I can remember. I remember being a girl of 8 and wanting to die. I remember feeling such engulfing sadness that didn’t go away.

Now, I am no longer surrendering to a disease that has sucked the life out of me  

I am learning to be more self-aware. I always thought I was self-aware. I was so hyper-aware of my sadness, my short comings and how I was different from other people. Acute awareness of my pain and suffering suffocated me. In recovery, I have learned to be more aware of all the parts of myself, separate from the pain and sadness. I make an effort to explore my interests and allow myself to dream. I am more than depression. This new self-awareness helps me to identify triggers and signals of impending distress.

I am learning to experience and manage anger. As a child, anger was discouraged. I learned anger does not solve anything from the past and resulted in lashing out and harm. However, feeling depressed and watching other “normal” people manage stress, enjoy life and pursue dreams caused anger. Realizing that depression dictated my actions, my thoughts and my path in life caused anger. I experienced sexual abuse as a teen and it caused anger. I avoided feeling a natural emotion. I didn’t learn to manage anger, fearing it would annihilate me. In my recovery, I’m learning anger is a natural response to situations in life. I accept anger and maintain a healthy response to it.

I am learning bad days don’t mean relapse. I experience more good days than ever. There is a hum of electricity in my brain I have not experienced in ages. Despite the positive change, a bad day results in fear I’m falling apart again and will result in subsequent hospitalizations. I’m learning I can identify a bad day because of stress, worries about my children or simple exhaustion after a tough day at work. I identify the reasons for a bad day, acknowledge the feeling and get sleep. I fear another breakdown, but will not allow a bad day to exacerbate that fear.

I am learning to be honest about how I feel.  Self-loathing prevented me from having the confidence to speak my mind. Putting on a brave face prevented me from sharing the pain and suffering I experienced daily. Shame prevented me from expressing the hatred of myself and the horrid feelings I experienced. With therapy, I am learning to express my feelings completely. My therapist challenges my self-loathing thoughts, asking for proof that my beliefs are true. My negative self-talk is diminishing because I realize depression lies and I can no longer entertain those lies. In being honest, I have the ability to challenge irrational thoughts and feelings.

I am learning to let go. I resented the words “just let it go.” If I had the ability to do that, I would have long ago. Depression gripped me with a sharp and powerful hand. However, during my recovery I identified particular burdens I simply could not manage to bear any longer. Now that depression’s grip lessened and I continue my treatment, I am more in control. I let go of anger now that I face it. I let go of being perfect in everyone’s eyes because I realize I attempt to satisfy everyone else’s needs out of fear of abandonment. I let go of the secret of my abuse. I let go of a stressful job that was tearing me apart. In letting go, I have more room to grow into the person I want to become.

I am proud of my progress. Though depression may rear its ugly head again someday, I am concentrating on the lessons I’ve learned. I will use them to confidently live again.

Editor’s note: This piece is based on an individual’s experience and shouldn’t be taken as medical advice.

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Originally published: May 16, 2016
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