Hello wonderful human beings of this lovely planet, how are you doing today? In this post I want to talk about something rather personal. I have a previous post where I talked about PTSD and how I am dealing with it, so today I decided to talk about depression.
PTSD and Depression
Some of you might already know that depression is a symptom of PTSD. While this is not always the case, my psychologist told me that PTSD is many times misdiagnosed as clinical depression. When I started medication, my doctor also explained to me that it would take at least nine months to rearrange my brain chemistry. Nine months in which I have monthly doctor appointments and biweekly appointments with my psychologist. The only time that won’t happen will be during the next two months, because I am in Guatemala. I was allowed to travel and go so long without going to the doctor and psychologist, under the promise that I will contact both of them in the case that I have a crisis. My psychologist gave me a list of coping mechanisms and strategies that I can use to deal with my emotions in a healthy way.
Most days since I started therapy have been good days, but what is it like to live with depression?
Depression on a Daily Basis
Depression isn’t something you can willingly turn on and off, and it is so much more than “just sadness.” A lot of times, depression is the absolute absence of emotions; tiredness and emptiness, is what is felt. Think of it as someone turning your soul off. Your eyes can see, and your ears can hear, but the information goes nowhere, and nothing happens inside of you. The things that are supposed to make you happy don’t make you happy anymore, and the things that are supposed to make you sad don’t make you sad anymore.
Other days, depression makes you hypersensitive. You start crying out of the nowhere or you get mad at everyone for no apparent reason. I am not an expert in the subject, so I don’t understand why the brain behaves this way, all I know is that it has been proven to be a chemical imbalance. I can tell you by experience than most days are a mixture of feeling nothing and everything; it comes as waves that can be triggered rather easily.
Like I mentioned before, I have been on medication and therapy for five months now and most days are really good days. Especially in the last month, there have been days when I have forgotten that I even have PTSD. I wake up motivated, excited, full of energy. I went from needing six cups of coffee to get me through the day, to drinking one cup of coffee just because I like its flavor. Medication helps but mental illnesses don’t just magically disappear, I still have bad days.
Just a few days ago I woke up at around seven AM and stayed in bed until around noon. At first, I didn’t want to get up from bed because I felt like there was no point in existing that day. When I finally forced myself to get out of bed, I started crying so I went back to bed. There was a voice in my head telling me all sorts of negative, horrible things. How did I managed to get out of bed? I talked to BJ; I’m fortunate to have someone who is there for me 24/7. I explained how I was feeling, and he helped me remind myself all of the wonderful things in my life that make it worth living. He also knew that I wasn’t going to become happy from one second to another, so he spent all day telling me wonderful things.
Now, BJ knows how to help me because we have talked about my depression very openly, but what would I do if I did have some as amazing as him? Here is where everything my psychologist has taught comes in hand. First, allow yourself to feel the way you are feeling, you don’t have to be perfectly happy every single day. It is okay to have bad days, and you are allowed to have as many bad days as you need in order to get through everything. You haven’t disappointed anyone, you are not a failure, and no one is going to hate you for having a bad day. It is okay and you will be okay. Make a list; write down things around you that you consider beautiful. From the small little lady bug on your window to the picture of you and your loved ones, everything you think is beautiful, write it down. Write down things that bring you joy; petting your dog, taking a long shower, singing, painting, going on a walk, eating, having sex. Anything that makes you feel you, write it down. Finally, write down positive things you are looking forward to. In my case I have my wedding and my graduation, but it can be smaller things like I am looking forward to having tomatoes growing in my tomato plant. A dinner with friends, your favorite meal, a package in the mail, and TV show; anything you are looking forward to—write it down. Now look at that list, read it again, all those things are the things that make life worth living. This won’t make you magically happy, but it will make you feel better because you can remind yourself that despite of how horribly your brain is painting the picture, life is actually quite beautiful and there is still hope.
If you are currently struggling with any sort of mental illness, seek help. You are the commander of your ship, you rule your life, you have the power to change things. Don’t give up and forget that you are loved, and you are not alone.
If you know someone if suffering from any sort of mental illness, be there for them, listen to them, don’t make them feel invalid, allow them to heal at their own speed, don’t tell them to “just get over it,” and above all things remind them that you love them and will continue to love them no matter what.
That is it for today, I hope this post didn’t put a damper on your day. Go out there and do something amazing; plant a little flower (or a big tree), hug someone, give a kiss to a loved one, smile to a stranger, or be kind without expecting absolutely anything in return. I hope to see all of you back next week.