By Teh Yenni (BAC Apprentice)
The traumatising ordeals brought on by the pandemic has certainly taught us all one common lesson: taking care of our mental health is of utmost importance. Let me take a moment to remind you that every life is precious. Yours included. You should value yourself, make yourself a priority, become the centre of your world. It’s not selfish, it’s self-love – and we could all use a little more of that.
Despite what some people say, know that it is perfectly okay for you to feel sad, angry, annoyed, frustrated, scared, or anxious. You do not have to be positive all the time. Experiencing negative emotions, does not make you a “negative person”. It makes you human.
A common depression myth is that depressed individuals are too mentally affected to even step out of their house – they don’t eat well, are always joyless, and they can’t laugh. These are the signs they tell you to look out for, but this is a misleading notion. Depressed individuals can very well maintain a good appetite, easily hang out with friends, and may be very active. What happens then? More often than not, people with depression hide their struggles and pretend to be A-Okay.
It is important to note that every individual will cope in different ways. Some may suffer from insomnia due to restlessness or sudden intense waves of sadness, some may find themselves putting on an act when surrounded by people but cutting themselves when alone to redirect their emotional pain, and some may walk down the lonely path of fighting suicidal triggers on a daily basis. There are also those who are diagnosed with “Dysthymia”, which is a persistent depressive disorder, and these unfortunate individuals are forced to struggle through their emotional fluctuations.
The statement “Depression is a mental illness that every individual will experience” is completely disagreeable. Depression is nothing like catching the flu, or falling off a bike, it is a stubborn and damaging mental illness. To make matters worse, depressed individuals must endure the shame and stigmas that follow the illness. While it can be managed and cured, one can never completely leave their depression behind. Many people experience relapses, each relapse worse than the time before. Depression can be treated with medication, psychotherapy, support, and time.
Depression is a constant battle, but there is nothing wrong with being depressed. Depression can be a very personal and lonely experience. Each story is different, but every story is valid. To those of you struggling with your minds on a daily basis, stop blaming yourselves. Just like if you caught a cold, you wouldn’t blame yourself, right? Instead, try to push away all the white noise and make yourself a priority. Validate your feelings, acknowledge your condition, and focus on the next step. How can you help yourself?
There is wide variety of treatments for depression today, find the treatment that works best for you. Antidepressants and psychotherapy are good starting points if you need external intervention, but remember that a little time in the sun, some daily exercise, quiet time, and a healthy diet, can make a big difference. There is also this idea suggesting that water can temporarily tone down or calm depressive feelings. You could take a hot shower, cry, sweat, go for a swim – and it will leave you feeling refreshed.
It is a good habit to try and frequently distinguish your feelings. Depression can sometimes be confused with extreme stress, exhaustion, or anxiety. By identifying your different emotions, you may notice that you are not in fact depressed, or you will gain some clarity on your triggers and emotions.
When a person is diagnosed with depression, they need support, someone to understand and hear them out. Sometimes, meeting up or chatting with others in a similar situation, will help. An accepting, understanding, and supportive environment, is crucial for depressed individuals to recuperate.
You need to know that:
You’re awesome. You’re loved. You’re needed. You’re alive for a reason. You’re stronger than you think. You’re going to get through this! I am glad that you’re alive. Don’t give up!
Learn from your past, see the future as free will, and live happily in the present.