It is dark and quiet, it lurks just beneath the surface, and waits until you’re most vulnerable to pull you under. It is the lurid, insidious reality of depression. No one knows it’s strength until they are fighting to get better. And everyone tells them it’s just a choice. I sat with a friend recently discussing her struggle to push through the darkness. We spoke of the loneliness, the absolute isolation, the funny looks, and the speculative whispers. There is a stigma with this disease that insinuates you should be able to ‘just get better’. That somehow if you were strong enough you would pull yourself up by the boot straps and change your life. It’s all a choice, right? Only it’s not. Depression is a disease. It is quiet and damaging. It changes the chemistry of your mind and makes it almost impossible to escape. It is as real as cancer and as devastating. It’s end game is your life and it’s fighting hard to take it from you. Even if you manage to keep your head just barely above water, those who have experienced this know the full cost that you have paid to stay alive.
Yet, there is hope. There is a path to health and transformation. It’s just hard and takes all of your will to stay on it. You can heal from depression. You can find joy again. You can experience sensation, and touch, and love, and freedom. Yes it’s a choice, but it’s more than that - it’s a daily action plan that requires a will of iron and a desperation to get better. When you realize that this truly is a disease - out to take your life - you might find that you’re suddenly willing to do whatever it takes to get better.
While there are good days in the life of the depressed, there is always a bad day lurking. You have to train yourself to stand guard, to work diligently, to protect yourself from falling under the weight of the next relapse. It requires a community, a person dedicated to your freedom, and your commitment to transform your life.
I want to just share a few of my most important tips to taking hold of your emotional and mental health and transforming your life.
I know this struggle because I have walked it in my own life. I have had amazing moments and I have slid back down and wondered if I have really made any progress at all. It takes time, it takes support, and it takes dedication. I list a lot of things that can help you on the road to recovery. If you do nothing else, just add in exercise, start there. Then as you can add another step. I have come so close to losing my life. I have been lost in my failures and my inabilities to be better. I have to walk this road carefully because I know just how close my ledge is. There is hope. You didn’t cause this to happen and it’s not because you aren’t strong. Depression is vicious and does not concern itself with its victims. Stand fast, stand firm, and go outside and walk. Your life is worth it.