When I opened up about battling depression, a lot of my friends texted me about how they have been dealing with the same thing for many years. I felt sad that our generation and the ones after us are facing this all alone. Generations before us would have faced it too, they just didn’t know!
My depression started with my pregnancy going haywire. Pretty much since then I have been on and off medications. The medications altered my behavior and moods so much! The medication targeted my hormones to keep me happy. Antidepressants are designed to target Dopamine or aka the “feel good hormone” and Serotonin, this hormone regulates your mood, sleep, appetite and digestion. This is why these medicines gradually changed my personality. It’s scary how some medicines have the power to change you completely! But I had no choice, if I didn’t take these meds, I would lay sulking and sleeping all day with no energy to even get up and cook or take a shower! And the moment I take them, it would make me hyperactive.
As a side effect of these medicines, I started developing anxiety and panic attacks. We would be surprised as a family why these things are happening now when things are getting normal. My son’s health was improving, I had found friends in Boston and I have my family with me. I started taking joy in silly things and would constantly try to be the life of a party, somewhere convincing myself deep down that I’m okay..I’m not depressed! My decisions were sometimes hasty and completely out of character!
The reason I’m telling so much about myself and the things I faced is because I know that a lot of my friends who didn’t reach out to me are also battling depression and are ashamed to admit it. I don’t blame them. Just while reading these previous few lines, a lot of my readers would have already assumed I was really crazy and should have been in a mental institution! And I’m sure half of them will be those who know me personally.
It’s this mindset of people that drives people to deal with depression all alone and by themselves. This stigma around mental illness that terms people “crazy” and “sick”!
Today, I’m going to tell you what helped me. The strategies I tried to cope with my depression.
I sought help when I knew things were slipping out of my hands. People around me kept saying things like “it’s because you have too much time on your hands!”, “you should pray, it calms you, “you don’t believe in God, that’s why he keeps testing you”, “you need to go out with friends”, “there is nothing such as depression, these are all new terms coined by the western world!”.
But thankfully, I’m a bad listener or my experiences have taught me that I shouldn’t listen to a hundred different opinions and should follow my heart.
I met a psychologist and I told her I didn’t want any more medicines. I was done living a life of waking up tired and groggy in the morning and then taking medicines and sleeping again through the day! I wanted to raise my child with an alert mind. So my psychologist taught me methods of coping with depression and anxiety. One powerful method of coping was reminding myself of what is more important and worth fighting for. To overcome my suicidal tendencies, I started repeating my son’s name to myself to remind myself that I can’t give up because I have to raise my son and I cannot let him down. This strategy was the most powerful tool I suddenly had. I felt strong! Even today if I’m alone in the house I sometimes hear a whispering in my head “die...kill yourself.. relieve yourself from this stress..be free”, but I have never and will never give in to the voice because I found my priority, what’s important for me. My son. He is someone I need to stay alive for.
I’m being so candid about this whole thing because no one else will. When you hear people committing suicide, you should know they couldn’t help it.. they couldn’t find that one strong reason. Do not judge them. They are not weak!
What I want to tell my friends today is, you know I’m talking to you, I will not reveal your names but life is precious and so are you! Close your eyes and think of happy thoughts and the people who matter to you and keep telling yourself your happy story and I assure you it will happen. This may sound silly to others but you just keep doing what you gotta do!
When the stroke had affected my balance and I was an inpatient at Spaulding Rehabilitation, the physical therapist would urge me to walk without holding onto the walker. I would keep repeating “mamma”, ”mamma” every time I was about to lose balance. I was 31 and people around me laughed at me, but saying that aloud gave me strength and that’s what mattered!
Another tactic that worked for me during panic attacks is sitting down and positioning my head between my knees and taking long breaths in and breathing out through my mouth. While doing this, picturize in your mind as each fear is like a cell in your body and the cell is actually melting with every breath out. This again would look stupid to others but it works wonders. Trust me.
Today, I don’t fear anyone or anything. Not even that whispering voice. I’m my own boss! I decide when I want to rest and when I want to be active. I have deleted the numbers of all those people whose name even doesn’t bring me any happiness. I know all those who are with me for real.
If this blog can help even one person battling depression alone, I will be at peace. Find your strength, find your happy thought and find that one thing in life that’s worth fighting for! You got this! It's never too late to begin healing! First seek medical help to find out what is right for you.