It’s been over 2 years since I have been clinically depressed. More than 7 months since I have been prescribed antidepressants. I’m far from being okay. I have to take 8 pills a day to balance some chemicals in my brain and to avoid feeling suicidal. There’s no timeline of when I’ll be “normal” again. ECT (Google it) has also been discussed as a part of my treatment.
No. This is not an Official Humans of Bombay story where I’ve successfully beaten an illness which is far more universal and deadlier than COVID-19. And no, I won’t share the full extent of my struggles. This is just me sharing the things I have been doing to cope with depression. Just some practical steps which have kept me alive.
Maintaining a gratitude diary: Writing down 2 things which occurred during the course of my day has kept things in perspective for me. Through this I’ve realized that maybe all is not lost yet. Some days I struggle to come up with even one good thing which happened on that day and on others, there have been way more than a mere 2 events. It has acted as an excellent short-term reminder of the better parts of my daily life.
Working out: There’s a lot of science behind this and a single Google search should suffice to outline its advantages. My workouts have ranged from 10 minute walks to 90 minute weight lifting and HIIT sessions. So there really isn’t any prescribed type of exercise one should do. Moreover, post-workout satisfaction is one of the greatest feelings in this world. Massively underrated.
Therapy: Talking out loud to a therapist, or even a close friend, has been helpful in separating the truth from my often irrational thoughts. The stigma involved in taking meds prescribed by a psychiatrist and meeting a certified therapist has been disheartening. However with time, I’ve become thick-skinned to criticism, even from people who really love me.
Eating and sleeping: Getting a solid 8 hours of sleep and having a full tummy are also underrated. I can’t stress how important it has been to keep my physical health from taking a toll due to my mental health. At the same time, there’s absolutely no shame and condemnation in going through extreme body changes during a mental illness. Everyone’s journey is a unique one.
If you know somebody going through a mental illness, don’t patronize them by saying stuff like “be positive” or “it’s just a phase.” There’s a lot of humility, love and support involved in admitting that scenario might be above your pay grade. Encourage them to get professional help.
And if you’re someone having mental health issues, know that you are loved and things will get better. I don’t know when. But it will. I myself tussle with believing that. But I know that one day I’ll finally be able to truthfully affirm that I’m okay when somebody asks how I’m doing. Till then, I’m going to try to take it one day at a time.