I attempted to recall how I was, this time last year, of seeing the ceiling through a translucent grey veil, which deceptively wispy appearance weighed down upon me like wet cement. I lay there in the warm embrace of the ground gradually swallowing me whole. I lay defeated. The shadows of depression a distant memory, the low rumble of thunder faraway. The demons have apparently gone into hibernation.
I am happy.
My recovery journey was a trek up the fumes-obscured mountains with heavy chains wrapped around my ankles. To reach the fresh air summit above, I was an explorer, scrambling through multiple routes, tumbling down great heights, pulling upon the tendrils of creeping plants with utmost trust because it was either the threads or a six feet plunge into the devil’s playground.
Following is a list of what I’ve tried (or been subjected to). If you’re struggling with depression as the moment, take this as a catalog of antidotes out there which you can select from the basket, discarding those that don’t work and holding on with your dear life to those which do:
Things that DIDN’T work:
- Counselling/therapy – After numerous disappointing appointments in strange offices with the mandatory Indian rug on the floor, I discovered my cold hatred for expressing my thoughts in spoken words. Also, my hatred for strangers who were concern about you because you paid them to be.
- Advice – However well the intentions are, unsolicited advice gets right up my ass like my impression of you gone sour, festering with an impatience for you to shut your mouth and stop talking about issues you have obviously no knowledge of.
- Escaping into work – At the pinnacle of my crazy, I was holding a part-time job and a full-time internship, while attending mandatory business modules in school and attempting to maintain an active lifestyle.
Note: this wasn’t a conscious decision to “escape”. It was my mind’s attempt to protect me (thanks) but ended up doing more harm than good (no thank you). Also, I was immersing myself in jobs I enjoy and people who inspire me, just that I wasn’t able to factor in the corresponding stress levels which ultimately wrecked me.
- Being taken care of – My mom is the main culprit of this. Upon knowing of my diagnosis of MDD, she threw a large sum of money at my depression hoping it will go away. All it did was to make me soft and feel more incompetent than I already was. I’m not your fucking imbecile. Stop treating me like one. (She still does.)
However, despite being utterly disappointed by things which were supposed to work but didn’t, I also found methods which worked their damn miracles on my dying mind. Note: some of which have been unorthodox/went against my judgments but I’m glad I gave them a shot. Their effectiveness were a pure stroke of luck.
Things that WORKED:
- Them pills – Say yes to drugs prescribed by your friendly campus psychiatrist. Always. Being on a course of antidepressants was the life buoy tossed to me just as I had made up my mind to let go of holding on. Sure, the side effects of debilitating nausea wrecked me for a week but it is a small price to pay for recovering my will to continue living.
Note: I’ve changed the medication I took because the first one (Fluoxetine) was way too fucking strong and my psychiatrist was kinda like a bastard I don’t want to have monthly appointments with. I switched to a psychiatrist in UHC and I liked that he wasn’t too interrogative or assumptive. He put me on a lower dosage drug (Prozac) which was tremendously helpful in doing away with the anxiety side effects. I’m off drugs for now but I’m eternally indebted to pharmacological research.
- Self love – Achieving spiritual self love is difficult, obviously impossible for someone down in the dumps. But on your way there, some physical self love or masturbation helps significantly. Honestly, it’s associated taboos aside, you’ll find that it’s a short term remedy for loneliness, low self-esteem and stress. Tried and tested (often).
- Curating my friends – Not in a Regina George way. Basically, I’ve realised that I can’t please everyone, I don’t need to and hence I won’t. Are you familiar with the feeling of being in a two-men canoe and you’re the only one paddling? Yes. Sucks major balls. So I made the decision to dive straight into the open waters, link arms with those already afloat to enjoy the endless ebbing and flowing of the waters. No strings attached, no pressure to paddle.
- Finding my strengths and believing in them – Because mom and friends, y u no give me heartfelt compliments? The strangers on Tinder have played a critical role in my search for the goodness in me (how pathetic). Disclaimer: I am EXTREMELY aware of the agendas behind the sweet talk on Tinder. The difference here is I’ve made the decision to evaluate their truth before wholeheartedly believe in them, something which had always been particularly challenging for me. My demons are skilled at my flaws very pertinent to me but that is no way to live. Currently building and expanding my golden army of strengths…
- Taking on the royal title of “Queen” – On days I’m emotionally unstable and am able to be aware of it, I relieve myself of the royal duties I have on my to-do list. Me before anyone else. I’ll repose upon my throne, turn off WiFi and listen to Robyn’s “Dancing on my Own“. Allow a few teardrops to roll down my cheeks which then quickly escalates into a waterfall purging all the negativity in my head. After a couple of hours, I am good to reign over my kingdom again.
- Revising my expectations – Because the world doesn’t end if I don’t get that A, or if things don’t go according to the way they are written out in my head, down to every detail of the script. Adjust your expectations downwards. Humans can hurt you because they are human. But I can take a beating. Hell, I can take a lifetime of pain as long as I’m given the time to heal. Adjust your expectations upwards.
- Making fun a priority – Prior to my fall from grace, I’ve always felt guilty about doing too much of things which made me pant, made me feel alive. Being happy and not productive somehow felt innately wrong to me and I prosecuted myself like a criminal, sentencing myself to unhappiness.
These are things which make me feel alive which I’m actively and consciously incorporating into my life:
- Capoeira and friends
- Rock Climbing
- The Outdoors – trekking, diving, sweating up a storm
- Humour and positivity
- Learning from mentors/bosses/anyone who has something to teach
- Expressing myself through words, photos and videos
- and more…
It’s so important to know what you love (you gotta try a whole bunch of batshit crazy stuff first) and pursue them without beating myself up for attempting to live.
Know that all the searching, the disappointment, the down steps are all necessary and a rather small price to pay for the magic that will happen once you’ve chanced upon your remedy.
Know that there is something out there that will work for you.