My dear reader, I’m sorry you feel the way you do. Being depressed and not understanding why is one of the greatest hardships in life. I believe we all go through depression at some point in our life. Some are fortunate enough to overcome it, whilst others are not. Despite having gone through depression myself, I will not pretend to know what it is you’re dealing with as there are different degrees of depression that exist. Instead, I will try to help you by telling you my story and the steps I took to get to where I am today.
The Beginning of The End
Remember that time word was going around that, according to the Mayan calendar, the world will end in 2012? Some people really believed it to be true. And to hype things up, they even made a movie about it. Obviously it didn’t turn out to be true. However, 2012 was the end of my world. 2012 was the year I lost everything, hit rock bottom, and had to start “living” all over again.
To make a long story short, I was a university student, I met the wrong people, and I got mixed up in some shady shit. Not because I wanted to, but because I was so naive, so good-hearted, that I didn’t think bad people really do exist. When I realized what I got myself into, it was too late to undo the deed and I was being blackmailed into living a life I had no control of.
Imagine being curled up in a ball every night at 4-5 am in the corner of a room, because I was no longer staying in my room, crying yourself to sleep, knowing that tomorrow’s another day you have to survive and do things you don’t want to do. Slowly but surely, I retreated from all social activities with my friends, stopped going to class, didn’t even go back to my dorm room (I was staying at a friend’s place who had an idea of what was going on), and started consuming alcohol at a very high rate. My health was declining, my physical appearance too. I disappeared from the public’s eye, and no one knew why. My grades were disgusting, I was failing every class, and that lead to many arguments with my parents. What made it worse is that I could not tell them what I was going though because of how ashamed I was feeling.
Things kept getting worse. Whenever I could I’d just sleep and try to avoid being awake. But even sleep became my enemy. I started experiencing nightmares that would lead to sleep paralysis, some messed up Elm Street spin off dreams. I was afraid of closing my eyes and prayed that I’d just drift off into nothingness. Suicide was on my mind but I kept thinking how that’d affect my family, my mother in particular. I just couldn’t do that to her.
It was a very dark period of my life where the light inside me was being extinguished and set out. I couldn’t believe that this was my reality, and I was constantly wondering when will I wake up from this never ending nightmare?
The Aftermath of The End
Fast forward 8 months later, my parents found out what was going on and pulled me out of my “situation”. But the damage was already done. The people I loved most, the people I grew up and shared many precious memories with, were no longer part of my life. Despite having an idea of what was going on with me, these people wanted nothing to do with me. My girlfriend whom I loved and held very dearly to my heart broke up with me, I had to dropout from my dream university, relinquish all independence privileges (I was clearly not ready to be independent), and move from the city back to my hometown.
It took me a while to understand, but I don’t blame anyone for what happened. I’d like to think my friends wanted to help me, but just didn’t know how. We were still kids after all. As for my girlfriend at the time, who would want to be with a broken man? I provided her with no sense of security, no happiness, only negative energy, and was absent most of the time. Whenever we would get together, I’d break down and lose control of my emotions in front of her. It was pathetic.
To explain where my mind was at after I moved from the city, I was constantly sad, lazy, sleepy, and I wanted to be left alone. No matter how many times my mother spoke to me about getting back on my feet, no matter how hard she tried to show me the light, that it’s time to recover etc. I could not bring myself to think of anything other than me being a failure. I was also constantly haunted by my experience, the things I’d seen and done, and the overall roller coaster of emotions I’ve been through. I felt paralyzed. Stuck, like I’m surrounded by brick walls so tightly built around me I could barely fit standing up. It was very draining.
I tried to see a therapist, but it didn’t help. This is not to say seeking therapy is a bad idea, or that it doesn’t work. I just happened to have a bad therapist. It’s either that or I was just not as open to the experience as I should have been. Or maybe I didn’t commit to seeing my therapist (I only went for three sessions, but they each lasted 10 minutes before I was dismissed). In any case, seeking help from a stranger didn’t help me.
Something else did.
Moving Past The End and onto New Beginnings
I can’t remember when exactly, all I know is I suffered from depression for a good 2 years. However, everything changed in one night.
It was around 2-3 AM, and I just had another sleep paralysis episode. Shaking and sweating, I called my mother to have someone to talk to. She tried her best to calm me down, but by the end of the all I was still in a very bad place in my head.
Here’s where things changed: literally five minutes after I hung up, my cousin calls. Now at first, I thought my mom asked him to check up on me. Turns out it was just a random call to check up on me. Keep in mind both my mother and my cousin were not living in the same country as me and were calling international.
We spoke for a bit and I told him how I was feeling. My cousin is a very good listener. Very calm and composed character, very charismatic, and always seems to know what the right words to say are. He asked me “why are you feeling the way you do?” I listed all the reasons mentioned above. Next, he said: “OK, what are you going to do about it?”
That’s where things changed for me. You see, up until that point, it never really occurred to me that I can do anything to change my current situation. Up until that point, I had given up control of the steering wheel. I had no goal, no aim, no ambition. I was so focused on what happened to me, on what I’d been through, that it consumed all my energy. I never stopped to think “OK, time to recover and move on, let’s get back on our feet”.
After living in darkness for so long, I finally had a glimpse of the light at the end of the tunnel.
Writing My New Story
It was tough. Very tough. It’s like learning how to walk all over again. Or at least that’s how I picture it to be. My first focus was to get myself cleaned up and organized. When your life is a mess, and everything around you is a mess, then you’ll be a mess. It was time to take out the trash, and have a somewhat clear vision of your surroundings.
My goal was to think more positive, to read and educate myself, and to exercise/eat healthy. Exercising and eating healthy wasn’t too hard for me, I was always an athletic person (see benefits of exercising and eating healthy here). The toughest part was to be more positive and change the way my mind operates. I used to spend hours looking at motivational quotes, googling positive affirmations, writing them down so they’d really stick in my head. The books I was reading at the time were all about habits, communication, and creating a vision of my future self, what kind of person I wanted to be, who I wanted to be. I had to teach myself how to talk to people again, how to go out and live in the moment rather than drift off into my past.
it was a very difficult road, full of ups and downs, and I’ll explain to you why: just because you’re trying to do something to turn your life around does not mean everyone is going to help you. Most people don’t even know you’re depressed. They probably don’t even care. So what may be an accomplishment for you, is most probably something normal for an outsider. So don’t expect a pat on the back from anyone, but do give yourself a pat on the back. People don’t know how far along you’ve come, only you and a select few do. Do not let these ignorant bystanders bring you down. Let them fuel you. Tell yourself “I’ll show you what I’m capable of”. Don’t let them count you out. Work hard, show them who’s boss.
Keep in mind some days you might not be feeling it. That’s OK. Don’t let those days spoil your progress. Even if you take a fall or two, get back on that saddle and try again. Remember, it takes time, it’s a process, you have to suffer before you can relax.
I’m blessed to have good friends and family, people who love and care about me. My cousin kept checking up on me and holding me accountable to my progress. Having people to encourage you along the way would definitely make it easier to overcome your depression. Choose your friends carefully, cut out as much toxicity in your life as possible, and get to grinding.
I still remember the first couple of books that I read and helped me get to where I am today. Give them a go if you don’t know where to start.
How to Win Friends and Influence People – Dale Carnegie
How to Win Friends and Influence People is a self-help book written by Dale Carnegie, published in 1936. This book really helped me think differently when interacting with people. This is the archetype of the practical human relations handbook. Carnegie opens with fundamental techniques for dealing with people, such as refraining from criticism and expressing sincere appreciation. Making people like you by smiling, remembering names, and being a good listener are encouraged.
The 7 habits of Highly Effective People – Stephen R. Covey
When Stephen Covey first released The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, the book became an instant rage because people suddenly got up and took notice that their lives were headed off in the wrong direction; and more than that, they realized that there were so many simple things they could do in order to navigate their life correctly. This book was wonderful education for people, education in how to live life effectively and get closer to the ideal of being a ‘success’ in life.
I hope I was helpful enough to give you the hope and motivation you need to get back on your feet. Your life is precious. YOU are precious. Always remember, Life can be beautiful if you choose to make it so. You just gotta learn how to bang your chest hard enough.
Reach out if you have no one to talk to, I’d be more than happy to listen and try to help.