7/09/2013

My Struggle With Depression

 So as I have mentioned before, I have had some struggles with depression. I was never “diagnosed” or given medicine for it, but that would be because I didn't have money or insurance to go to a doctor and get any. I was a poor college student living off of slightly higher than minimum wage when I first got depression. I have had it twice. The first time was the worst. The second, not as bad, but still not fun. So if you are anything like me, didn't have the money or insurance to spend on seeing a doctor, but you still believe that you are depressed, then I have some “at-home” remedies for you to try.
Okay so background story for you: the first time I got depressed I was living on my own for the first time. I was about 4 hours away from my family. I lived with my best friend, which was helpful, don't get me wrong, but not enough, sadly. I was working full time at a 24 hour grocery store, where I occasionally worked really late hours. I also was going to school full time (I was taking 15 credits). On top of the stress of working 35-40 hours a week (sometimes till midnight), and going to classes five days a week, I had a demanding social life. You might be like “Psh! Poor you! At least you had a social life!”. Well, you are right. At least I did. But that made things harder. Especially for an outgoing, bubbly, “life of the party” type such as myself. On top of that I don't like letting people down or saying no. So I often was out trying to party and have fun. (Let me clarify, I didn't drink, smoke, do drugs, have sex, or any of those other things that people might think of when they think “college party”.) My type of partying was going on dates, seeing new movies with friends, hanging out, swimming, hot tubing, eating out, playing night games in parks, going to Walmart in the middle of the night, etc. I LOVED being out and about and having fun.
Okay, so you might be thinking that my life was pretty great and I had no reason to be depressed. Well, at first it was. I had lots of friends with whom I could hang out, I was in school, I had a job, and a calling in church (almost forgot that). I was blessed. But I started to get overwhelmed. I was tired from working late and getting up early. I was getting behind on school work, which was highly discouraging. I had to stop hanging out as much and that made me feel left out. My thoughts about how people perceived me and what they thought of me started to go down hill. I was on a slight incline to depression that was only getting more steep and more slippery. I started thinking that no one liked me. I felt that because I couldn't always go to the activities and “parties”, people thought I didn't like them. For someone like me who doesn't like conflict or negative feelings (towards me or others), that tore me apart. I was trying to please my friends, teachers, church leaders, boss, roommates, basically everyone I came in contact with. It was hard.
I know the feelings and thoughts I had weren't rational. Like anyone really expected me to always be available to hang out. My friends knew I was in school and working and was busy. They didn't hate me for it, but for some reason I started to hate me for it. I wanted to be out there having fun! Not at home doing homework or at school or work. I really didn't like feeling left out. I also didn't like being tired all the time. Plus, with trying so hard to do everything, I got sick a lot. (I don't have the best immune system and I have other health issues which contributed, but more on that in another post.) I have to say though, at the time, everything I felt and thought was completely within reason. I honestly believed the things I would tell myself. I thought I was worthless. Why continue school? Why do homework if I was going to fail anyways? Why work? I should just leave. No one would care.
I want to clarify something real fast, I did NOT get to the point that I wanted to commit suicide. I did, however, get to the point where I wanted physical pain. My thoughts about leaving were more about moving somewhere else. I would often fantasize about packing up, getting in the car and driving till I ran out of gas. I didn't know where I would go. I didn't care. So long as I could start over somewhere where no one would know what a failure I was. I was too afraid to do that though (luckily!) So I stayed and continued getting more depressed. I am sad to say that what really set me over the edge was a guy. We had kind of dated off and on. I wanted something more, he didn't. What really upset me though, was that he didn't want to date me anymore. Sounds like a stupid reason to get so worked up over, huh? Well, when you are happy and in a healthy place emotionally, then yes it might be a stupid thing to get so upset over. It would be easier to move on. BUT when you are emotionally drained, physically tired and sick, and feel that no one cares about you in the first place, well then, a guy not wanting to date you is the worst thing ever! It only reenforces your belief that no one likes you, that you are worthless and that you don't even deserve to be happy.
After this guy broke up with me, I cried almost all the time. I stayed home from work. I was luckily just out of school, which I passed my classes, but not with good grades. I stayed in my room because I didn't want people to see me as the failure I was. When I wasn't in my room I was sitting (literally sitting) in the shower letting hot water run down my back while I cried as hard as I could. I stopped doing anything productive. When I tried I only put in a fourth of my effort and so when I didn't do good I could reenforce the fact that I sucked. (Sadly, depressed people will do this. You get to a point where you fail on purpose so you can justify the way you feel.) I stopped attending church as much, and when I did go I stayed for sacrament and that was it. Around this time is when I started wanting to hurt myself. Now not many people now this but I would take the sharp edge of my body wash container and scratch up my thighs while in the shower. No one could stop me while I was in there. They didn't know. I didn't do enough damage to cause scars. I don't think I even made myself bleed. But I did hurt myself. I caused scratch marks and red rashes to appear on my legs.
It was about... I want to say a week or two later, when I finally could not take anymore. I called my sister (now living in Idaho with my family), and told her I was done, I couldn't do it anymore, I wanted to go home. So she told me give me 5 hours and I will be there to get you. (It only take 4 hours but she had to get someone to split the driving with her and get some stuff taken care of so she could come get me.) I won't ever forget that my sister was amazing enough to stop everything and come get me. Her and a good family friend were on their way within the hour. I, meanwhile, packed up all my stuff, quit my job (yes I still had it. They were very good to me.), talked to my bishop about why I was leaving, and then said goodbye to my roommates (one of which was my best friend), and I was on my way as soon as my sister and friend were there to get me.
Now this is where the healing started. Getting away from the problem was a huge step in the right direction! This isn't always the case though. Sometimes it is better to stay and figure things out where you are. I had just reached a point where nothing around me was helping. (Except my best friend, she kept me together as long as she could.) I needed to be home. Being with family was one of the biggest reasons I got out of depression. Without their love and support I wouldn't have gotten anywhere. So I would suggest being around family, if you can. That would be my number one thing to do. (In some cases, this isn't helpful. I had a friend who, when living at home, was worse off depression wise, than when living on her own.) But for me, it was what needed to be done.
Here are some ways, thanks to family and friends, that I have learned to deal with depression:
  • Wake up early. It doesn't need to be super early, eight o'clock works fine. Just don't stay in bed all day. Make yourself roll out of bed and take a shower.
  • Get ready for the day. One thing I learned, thanks to my wonderful mother, is that when you stay in your pajamas all day or you don't do your hair and get ready for the day (even if you aren't doing anything), you feel a lot worse than if you did get ready. So get up, shower, feel refreshed and make yourself look nice. It helps a lot!
  • Exercise! While having many health benefits, exercise releases endorphins into your body and helps you to feel happy. Plus when you work out it makes you feel productive and helps you stay healthy. And when you are healthy, you feel better. (I personally liked yoga and Wii Fit.)
  • Talk to someone! This is important! Whether it be a professional, family member, friend, church leader, or whatever, it helps to talk. It keeps you from letting the feeling build up inside you to the point where you explode. Pick someone you trust and talk to them. Tell them how you feel. And be honest, if you lie or hold back you are only hurting yourself.
  • Keep yourself busy. Try to come up with a new hobby or perfect a skill. In your down time try reading, sewing, crocheting, playing an instrument, helping out a friend, scrap-booking, serving someone else or anything else you can think of. On top of giving your mind something else to think about you will also feel productive because you have accomplished something. Even if it's small.
  • SERVE! I cannot emphasize this enough!! Serving others can and will make you happy. Maybe not at first, it may take a few times or more of helping out someone else, but trust me when I say that service will make you happy. You will be helping someone who needs it more than you. You get to be Christ-like and make someone happy. You will get numerous blessings for it! It is one of the best things you could do.
  • Work on yourself. This might sound like the opposite of service, but let me clarify. I do not mean that you should become selfish and think about only what you need and want. Complete opposite! When I was depressed the second time, it was again because a guy broke up with me. This one I actually liked though, the other one I think I just liked the idea of having someone like me. Anyways, it hurt bad when he broke up with me, I thought I loved him and we were going to be together forever and all that. (No hard feelings though, I know my dating him and then him breaking up with me was part of the Lord's plan for me and him. Besides, now I have the BEST husband I could have ever even hoped for.) Anyways, when he broke up with me I went to my dad one night and he told me this: forget why this guy broke up with you, you my never figure out why and its not important. Instead, work on yourself. Make yourself a better person. Work on making yourself someone you want to be, someone that the Lord wants you to be. Best advice ever! I have since tried to better myself and not focus on what I can't control.
The last thing I want to say is read uplifting talks, say your prayers, and read the scriptures. Staying spiritual can really make a difference. It will help you better yourself, bring you closer to God, and make it so you have the Holy Ghost with you always, and He will give you feelings of peace and comfort.
Well, that's my story. That is how I got through depression twice and how I stay out of it now. I hope it helps someone out there. And if you have any questions about anything feel free to ask! Also subscribe to my blog so you can be alerted when I upload more. Also, look out for my other struggle posts I'll be posting and for answers to your questions. Again, feel free to ask anything you want! :) Love you all!

A great talk on getting through depression: