I finished my counselling 1 year ago and I have remained depression free ever since which is great obviously but it has been weird for me sometimes. I had depression for many years and it was hard to admit that. My personality is normally quite smiley and bubbly so admitting that I was actually depressed as fuck on the inside wasn’t ever easy.
In the past my depression didn’t always stick around. Sometimes it would be around for a few months and then would leave for a short period of time and then return again. This happened a lot during my high school and college years and it got to a point where I could almost predict when I was going to get depressed and time roughly how long for. I remember one of my friends asking if I was okay and I was going through a depression month and I knew I had about another 2-4 weeks left of it so I just simply replied “Oh I’ll be alright in a few weeks. Just a depression period”. I could feel when my depression was creeping up on me. My personality would change, my thoughts/feelings would change as well as my energy levels, body care and social skills.
I remember this happening for the first time back when I was in Year 9 at high school. I’d spend a lot of time crying, that’s pretty much all I wanted to do. I’d go out with friends and I’d be the quietest one there, so I’d drink alcohol to try and make myself more outgoing but I’d just end up crying and crying and crying till I crawled home and cried myself to sleep. It started in November and it happened again the year after that around November time again so I put it down to SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder) but the heavy lows wouldn’t last all the way through winter. Looking back I realise they were just heavy lows of depression that used to come and go in waves.
This is the longest I have gone without going through a depression period and I’m not expecting to go through one anytime soon but back in February I was travelling up the East Coast with my mum and I was sat at the table in our campervan and I was deep in thought about my depression. I’m not sure if it was my depression trying to creep in or my brain playing a sinister trick on me but the thought of “You haven’t been depressed in a while, that’s not normal” came into my head and it was like woah, what the fuck?! It took me by surprise but then I thought about it a lot and for a while.
Why wasn’t I depressed? Should I feel depressed? The more the questions went around my head the more weird I felt about not being depressed. My brain even tried to convince me I was depressed (basically I tried to convince myself I was depressed) but I just couldn’t. Within a few weeks I was back home in the UK for a visit and that’s when I realised I actually had no reason to be depressed. Nothing. I was happy. Sure I would have rough days or tiring days which would effect my moods or energy levels but nothing that would put me back into that depressive state. I was and am past all that.
Life after depression has been great but I reached a point where it got really strange. I had been happy and free for more than 6 months and I haven’t experienced that since I was a child. I’ve been so used to having depression come and go in my life and when the realisation hit me that I am depression free it was pretty mind blowing. I am actually basking in the light that is at the end of the tunnel and it’s fucking great.
People say that once you finish counselling you won’t slip into a depressive state again because you know the warning signs which is true, but the thing is I knew the signs. I could almost always predict when that black cloud was gonna come and rain on me, I just didn’t know how to cope with all the rain but now I do. That’s what counselling taught me. I learnt how to reduce the chances of falling into that depressive state again which for me, requires a lot of self love.
Self care is key. Self care is important. Had a rough day? You spend your evening doing something to help take all that shit away. Feeling drained? Have a early night even if it means you just chill in bed for a hour or so before falling asleep. It is not selfish to put yourself first!!! Your needs come before anyone elses and don’t ever, ever let anyone else tell you different.
I’ve had a busy week with 5:00am starts and late nights which has left me a bit drained. My days have been filled with non-stop work so my self care time has had to be in the evenings. My past few evenings I have focused on myself. This involved stretches. Stretches help get rid of all that tension that builds up throughout the day. I like to try and spend a minimum of just 5 minutes every other day just doing stretches. If you struggle to find something to help you relax I recommend trying out a couple of stretches. It doesn’t have to be much and you can do whatever stretches you like. Even if you just do 2 minutes every other evening I can guarantee you will feel better.
Face mask. I love a good face mask, it helps me feel like I am pampering and looking after myself. It’s a small but rewarding gesture to your body so I like to treat myself to a face mask whenever I am going through a busy period in my life. It’s something simple, easy and it gives you an excuse to chill out for 5 minutes whilst it dries!
Sleep is very important to me. I like to try and aim for a full 8hrs sleep every night especially when I am working (6hrs is my absolute minimum). I get drained very easily and quickly and when I am tired it is harder for me to cope with my anxiety. If it means I am in bed at 7:00pm then so be it. My mental health is way more important to me than it ever has been before and I know a good nights sleep helps me in more than just one way.
Meditation. It really doesn’t have to be much. Even just having meditation music on in the back ground whilst you chill out, do stretches or go about your duties can benefit you! I’ve been listening to my meditation/yoga playlist a lot over the past couple of weeks. The work I have been doing has involved 4:30am starts and working non stop for the next 12-15 hours later. It’s been a lot for me and actually meditating when I am exhausted is quite difficult for me because a few minutes into the meditation my brain switches off and I’m flat out asleep, which isn’t a bad thing at all but meditating when I’m tired is useful to me which is why instead I listen to my playlist. The music soothes me, helps ground and reconnect with myself. I usually just have it on in the back ground when I am writing, stretching, reading or just lay in bed. If you want you can check out the playlist here. Ceilidh – Suaimhneas is my favourite!
We need to look after ourselves and we need to understand when/why someone we know needs to look after themselves. Depression can convince you that you don’t like or enjoy anything. That pretty much everything is pointless or worthless but it’s not! Remind yourself of what you enjoy whether it be going for a walk, reading a book, having a bath or whatever! There is at least one thing that you enjoy and sometimes you just need to find and feel that enjoyment again in order to get through depression. I know it sounds so cliché but trust me, there is light at the end of the tunnel and it is possible to get to it.
Don’t forget to create time for yourself. Even if it is just 5 minutes before you go to bed or 5 minutes before you head off to start your day. Just something to help your mindset remain clear and positive. It’s the little things that make a big impact on us.
Sending my love to you all,