Depression is not at all uncommon, yet we oftentimes don’t want to acknowledge its presence—even to ourselves. No one likes to admit their flaws, and in a culture that idolizes perfection, or at least the perception of perfection, depression can feel like wearing a big, scarlet A on your shoulder.
I’m no expert on depression. I recognize it is something that can be so different for each person affected. But, as someone who has walked through depression, I simply want to pass on a few words of encouragement to those of you who may be tempted to try and bury the pain.
1. Admit it. Even if it’s just to yourself at first. Simply calling out the black elephant in the room is a step toward healing. Although it’s a very simple step, it might be the hardest. It’s a very brave thing to do.
2. Talk about it. Not to everyone, but perhaps to one person who has loved you unconditionally for some time… A friend, spouse, mentor, or family member—someone you trust. Oftentimes we don’t realize all of the hurt, anger, or mixed emotions that we are carrying until we unload them. And unloading can be therapeutic.
3. Write it out. Maybe you’re not ready to talk to someone yet. Journaling about your feelings is a great way to release stress, worry, fear, sadness, anger, etc. It may also help you process the things that are going on inside so that you feel more comfortable in reaching out to a trusted friend.
4. Take an emotional break. Force yourself to get up, get out of the house, and do something that you usually enjoy. Something that might help you get out of your head. I have a friend who loves to do puzzles and color adult coloring books. I personally love animals and notice that they always make me feel happy, so sometimes I would just visit a local pet store or humane society when I was feeling down. No matter what state I am in emotionally, it’s something that brings me joy and helps me just live in the present moment. Exercise is a natural energy and endorphin booster. Consider taking a walk outside while listening to music.
5. Give yourself a break. You are infinitely valuable, but you are not perfect, my friend. No one is… So cut yourself a little slack. Don’t beat yourself up. Take note of even the slightest victory in your day, like doing the dishes, taking a shower and doing your makeup, or taking a walk around the block. When you accomplish one of these goals, speak kindly to yourself and acknowledge it for the triumph that it is.
6. Find a counselor. Sometimes nothing in the list above is helping, and maybe that’s causing you further discouragement. If you’re at this point, my personal opinion is to visit a counselor. Don’t believe the lies that taking this route makes you “weak” or “crazy.” In fact, I think it makes you strong and wise. If you still feel resistant, please listen … learning how to take good care of yourself mentally and emotionally is a part of growing and maturing into a thriving, healthy woman. Everyone goes through hard times, and sometimes mustering up all of our grit and pushing forward is the answer. Sometimes it’s not, and that’s ok, too! One of the values we hold onto dearly at the Grit and Grace Project is taking the necessary time and attention it takes to heal properly. You will be so glad you did.
If you are struggling with depression, I hope you know that it doesn’t make you any less of a person. You’re still you, though you may not feel like it right now, but I believe you can and will again. You’re not alone—and you’re certainly not the only one to have walked this road, so don’t believe those lies. Whatever you do, please don’t give up. Take a break, yes… Give yourself grace, yes… But in the words of Winston Churchill, “Never, never, never give up.” You were put on this earth for a purpose. Hang in there, friend. This is just a season that will require the utmost amount of grit and grace… But you will find there is enough inside of and all around you.
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