Sometimes finding the blissful side of life requires managing the darker side of things first. Today’s guest blogger, the lovely Melissa Messer, shares her experience and offers advice for reclaiming your bliss when it is clouded by depression.
The Australian government did a study on depression in 2004 which reported that statistically, everyone will have experiences with depression at some point in their lives. As a generally ecstatically happy human with a great family and friends, I never dreamt it would be something that would strike me. My experience happened last Christmas, after the loss of a dear friend far too early, as well as the death of my family’s beloved little dog of 14 years. Needless to say, Christmas wasn’t very cheery in our household last year. Sadness and what I considered “normal” grief eventually gave way to something else entirely, and before I knew it, I was exhibiting what I now know are classic signs of depression. My sleep patterns changed, alternating between 14+ hours or less than 4 in a night. I had no appetite or desire to do anything but lay in bed. One cold February morning, I got fed up. Making the decision to get help wasn’t easy, but in the healing process, I learned several important life lessons that I return to often. Whether you’re grieving, suffering from depression, or just going through a tough time, some solace can be found from each of these tips (but please, remember that I’m not a doctor and this is not actual medical advice).
Be patient with yourself.
Modern science has agreed that there is no “correct” way to grieve. Every experience is different and requires something different. The only person you have to please is you. Giving yourself hard and fast goals isn’t necessary and will only frustrate you when you fail. Just remember that this is a process, and there’s just no need to go any faster than you’re ready for.
Take the burden off of yourself.
Obviously, finding people you can talk to is important. Equally important is making sure that the people you’re talking to are judgment-free and completely supportive. You need to find people you can be completely frank with who will support you completely, whether you find that in a family member, a support group, or a therapist.
Take the focus off of yourself.
It’s very easy to get wrapped up in your own problems. Instead, try doing something to help out others. Volunteer at an animal shelter. Sign up for Habitat for Humanity. At the very least, this will take your mind off of your grief and help out humanity, a win-win in pretty much anyone’s book!
Have faith in yourself.
There’s a lot of misinformation in the world about depression. It’s important to legitimize your feelings and realize that what you are experiencing is a medically recognized condition. You don’t have to just “suck it up.” Have faith that you will recover, and stay far away from the negativity.
Be honest with yourself.
This, above all else, is the most important factor. Certain things and certain people make you happy, and you know who and what they are. Soak up as much of this as you can. Revel in it and allow yourself to feel every little thing. Begrudging life’s unpleasant tasks is something everyone must do, but making the choice to consistently choose what makes you happy will only increase your happiness. It’s a deceptively simple concept that might involve the realization of some painful truths about some of the people in your life, but keeping it honest can only lead to good things.
Melissa Messer is a passionate writer, nerd, musician, and lover of life. She is currently a contributor to The Dating Website and a full-time college student with Midwestern roots. You can find more of her work on her blog or follow her on Twitter.