18 Apr How I Learned to Embrace My Mental Health Struggles
How I Learned to Embrace My Mental Health Struggles
In this series of blogs, we explore the realities of anxiety and depression through the lens of real-world first-person narratives from anonymous teens. What else can we learn about these issues? How can we work to overcome them together? Let’s talk about it.
When I first discovered that I suffer from depression, I felt hopeless. I was ashamed of my diagnosis and I didn’t know where to turn. Every day felt more difficult than the last and I thought I would never feel better again.
It’s easy to feel like the world is ending when you’re struggling with mental health. I know that everything seems to be closing in on you and you feel trapped within your own mind. After two months of feeling sad and alone, I decided to embrace my mental illness instead of letting it keep me down.
Here are some of the ways I use my depression to empower me. I encourage anyone who might be suffering to give them a try. They’ve made a world of difference for me.
Be honest with yourself about your mental condition.
If you’re feeling sad, let yourself be sad. Don’t try to hide your feelings or pretend like they aren’t there. Suppressing them will only make them feel more overwhelming. Be honest and open with yourself about how things are going.
If this seems difficult, try standing in front of a mirror and telling yourself how you feel. It sounds silly, but it really helps to get things out. If you don’t want to try that, write yourself a note. Open up to yourself and accept your own flaws. It’s okay that you’re sad. Whatever you’re feeling is valid.
Be honest with the people you love.
If you’ve been struggling and your family and friends aren’t aware, don’t hesitate to have an open conversation with those that you trust. Your loved ones will be there to support you and you don’t have to feel ashamed about your feelings. If there’s someone you’ve been wanting to tell about your depression, go for it. I promise you’ll feel much better once you do.
When I started recognizing my symptoms, I was angry at myself and the situation. This caused me to treat the people I love poorly. Soon I realized that they deserved to know what was going on and why I had been acting so strange. I opened up to my parents and my best friends and I received so much love in return. I was terrified to tell them, but they were so welcoming and supportive when I did. Now they look out for me and understand what I’m going through. I’m proud of myself for opening up.
Control whatever you can.
Depression is completely out of the sufferer’s control, which is why it feels so hopeless. When I decided to embrace my mental illness, I decided to control everything I possibly could. If I can’t decide whether or not I’m depressed, I’m going to decide every other part of my life. This allowed me to regain some confidence and face my depression head-on.
I started taking steps that people suggested to me – even though I was annoyed when they first mentioned them – as if depression could be cured with the snap of my fingers. I began to change my diet, incorporating as many fresh fruits and vegetables into my food as I could. I made an exercise routine and pushed myself to stick to it. Simply making a plan to feel better momentarily distracted me from my sadness.
As I mentioned before, writing myself notes was a very useful tool in accepting my depression. Getting my words out on paper made me feel so much better. The physical act of writing — watching my hand move up and down to scribble all of my thoughts out onto the paper — was cathartic for me.
Sometimes, after I’d write everything down, I’d rip the page out of my notebook and crumple it up, poor water on it or put it in the fireplace. It was as if I was getting my sadness out onto the paper and watching it melt away.
Seek help from a professional.
You aren’t supposed to know how to handle depression and that’s why there are professionals who can help. I started going to therapy to talk through my feelings in a safe space. I was scared to go at first because there’s such a negative stigma around people who go to therapy. But that’s all it is — a stigma. It ended up being an excellent resource that I used to open up and get things off my chest.
If you’re suffering from depression, please don’t hesitate to find help. Opening up to the family and friends you trust is a great step, but they aren’t professionals who know exactly what to say and how to help. You can always ask for a loved one’s help in finding a good therapist, though. They would be happy to help.
I know depression can feel hopeless, but if you learn to embrace it, it can feel much smaller than it seems right now. My depression has only made me stronger because of what it’s put me through, and I’m a better person because of it.