by Kahlia Meeuwsen, Health Columnist
Published in Health on 12th December, 2018
Depression is an extremely difficult thing to experience, and it's not abnormal to feel isolated and alone. At the same time, it can drive you to feel like you need to separate yourself from others for a multitude of reasons.
However, it's incredibly important that you reach out for help. The support of others can help to remind you that you are worthwhile, cared for an needed in the lives of others. We're going to discuss here exactly why that is.
Depression is a hard thing. It's hard to understand, even for those who have had it for years. It can show up at any time, any place, and it can make you feel isolated and hopeless.
On top of that, it can be a hard thing to discuss with others because of how hard it is to understand. There are many who will want to look for a "reason" for the depression, when often there is no reason. It comes and goes as it pleases, like a visitor we don't really want to see.
At the same time, keeping it bottles up allows the nasty feelings to eat away at us. As a result, the problem becomes worse because we feel even more alone. When we don't feel that we can turn to others, what do we do?
While it might feel like others won't understand, there are some who will. Finding those people in your life can be key to feeling less alone when the depression is at its worst. With even a single ally against depression, you can find that it's a whole lot easier to ride the currents.
Depression is a little different for everyone who experiences it. For some, it can come with nasty messages that tell us we don't deserve comfort, friendship, love or help from others. As a result, we end up hiding away from the world instead of reaching out to those around us.
However, when you're alone in the depression, it can be that much harder to get through. Giving in to those nasty messages becomes easier, and we end up feeling so much worse. Sometimes we need the voice of another to remind us that the goblin-voice of depression isn't correct.
So if there is anyone at all you feel you can talk to about how you're feeling, it's a good idea to seek them out. They can potentially assist in giving you an emotional boost, or just give you some company to keep your mind off the difficult feelings.
While it might seem like a simple thing to talk to someone about your feelings, it can be a very difficult thing to do. This is especially true in regard to depression. Depending on where you are with the illness, you may not want to admit to having it aloud.
If you can talk about it freely, then doing so can be incredibly helpful. However, even if you aren't comfortable with being direct about depression, then maybe there's someone you can talk to who might understand that you're just feeling bad. Even that can be helpful.
Essentially, whatever you can say, and to whatever extent you can talk about it, it's a good idea to do so. Enlist others so that you don't have to face the darkness of depression alone. The greater your support system is, the easier it will be to get through the more difficult times.
If you can, seek out the help of a professional. These are going to be the people who are best equipped to help you with your depression. They're able to help you through coping with depression, and can prescribe medications to help with easing it, if you're open to that route.
Aside from that, it can really be nice to talk to someone who has no stake in your life. A professional therapist is just there to help you, not to push their own agendas or beliefs. As a result, you can get the guidance you need in a very objective way.
If you don't yet feel comfortable seeking out professional help, that doesn't mean there are no options for you. There are still a number of ways in which you can build support for yourself to help you with handling depression in healthier ways.
One of the things that can really start to fall behind when depression is at its peak is self care. This can mean that cleaning goes undone, clothes go unwashed, and hygiene falls to the wayside. Doing these things can start to feel like so much work, especially when you'd rather sleep all day.
However, when you let those things slide then you can be left feeling worse. That goblin brain finds even more to make you feel badly about, resulting in the vicious cycle continuing until you hit the bottom. From there, it can be much more difficult to get back up.
When you're feeling depressed, it's important to be gentle with yourself and engage in self care out of love. Also, don't try to force yourself to handle everything perfectly. If it takes all you have to take a shower and brush your teeth, that's a win.
This can be an extremely difficult thing you do. If you're anything like me, then the cruel thoughts that can come with depression will look for any way in they can get. This might mean that they try for days, starting with smaller messages and getting more and more cruel.
They will also seek out any opportunity when you might be more vulnerable. When you're tired, worn out, or when you've come home from an outing to the quiet, and the incoming waves of sadness, loneliness or other feelings that come from your specific depression experience.
Combating these messages and feelings is so important, and it's not an easy task. Start by noting the specific kinds of thoughts that come around when the depression is at its strongest. Do you feel unlovable? Unwanted? Hopeless? Why? What triggered it?
When you get a better idea of what causes these thoughts to occur, you can start to develop logical arguments against them. In time, you can use this to try to interrupt the depression cycle before it has a chance to bring you all the way down. Remind yourself that no matter what that voice says, you are wanted, loved and worthwhile.
There is no one specific way that is right when it comes to reaching out for help with depression. While some ways might be better than others, it's ultimately a matter of doing what you can in the given moment. Not everyone has reached a point where they feel comfortable going to therapy.
The top choice, of course, is going to be seeking out professional help. Such an individual can not only do a better job of helping you to manage symptoms, but can also assist in getting to the root cause of your depression.
This is key because knowing and addressing the source of the depression is what will ultimately help to cure it. In many cases, the feeling comes from somewhere. While a chemical imbalance may be involved, oftentimes there are also other factors that contributed to it.
Such factors might include childhood experiences, feeling a lack of social connection, post-traumatic stress, or a variety of other factors. It can be difficult to sort out the source by yourself, especially if the symptoms aren't being addressed. Consequently, the help of a professional can be key in finding a permanent solution to the nasty feelings and messages that depression can bring.
If you don't feel that you're ready to talk to a therapist, it's perfectly okay! The most important thing is to talk to someone so that you aren't dealing with it completely alone. Seeking out a friend or family member to talk to can also be a very helpful experience.
When you're considering who might be the best to talk to, it's worth thinking about how validating the person is. If you turn to someone who is going to try to tell you that your depression isn't real, or is an excuse, or something similar then it's not going to be a very helpful conversation.
If you know anyone who has dealt with depression themselves, then that's a decent place to start. Also, keep in mind that whoever you seek out isn't likely going to be able to dedicate their lives to helping you feel better, but they may be able to give you some keen insight.
Still, there are some who don't feel they have someone in their lives they can talk to about depression. Whether that's because you aren't ready to talk to those people about it, or because you don't trust that their responses will be supportive, there are still other routes you can take.
Online support groups can be a useful way to seek out help without having to give out too much information about who you are. If you find depression-specific support groups, then you can also typically expect them to be supportive of those who are suffering from depression.
When all else fails, writing about your feelings and experiences can be a useful tool. You can do this alongside talking to others, or by itself if you just don't feel ready to reach out yet.
A great aspect of keeping a journal is that you can let everything out and return to examine it when you're feeling more calm. There are no constraints, and you won't have to worry about the way you come off to others. Overall, it's a fantastic outlet for setting your feelings free in a private setting.
When things feel like they're at their worst, it can be hard to reach out in the moment when you need them. People might be busy, and it can take a while to get a response. However, there are people who are waiting and happy to talk to you about whatever may be going on.
Whether you're starting to think about suicide or things are just looking extremely bleak, contacting the Suicide Prevention Line can only help. If you need to use it, the number is 1-800-273-8255. There are also numbers you can use for Spanish speaking, Veteran, Disaster or Deaf-specific help.
You also have the option to chat with someone online if you don't feel up to speaking over the phone.