In celebration of World Mental Health Day which was on October 10th I thought it would be good to speak about depression and how extremely real it is. I was actually diagnosed with this mental health issue a few years ago. I had always heard about it and saw it portrayed on movies but never thought I would be one to experience it. The scary thing about depression is that a lot of the time it doesn’t FEEL the way depression is represented. When you see instances of depression it is almost always illustrated as sadness or in regards to postpartum depression the mother either wants to hurt her baby or doesn’t want anything to do with her new addition. This is not what it felt like to me.
I was diagnosed over two years after my daughter was born. Every day just doing the simplest task was a struggle. All I wanted to do was curl up in bed and sleep because I was always exhausted. I didn’t feel concerned about it because I felt like I should be drained. I was in a very bad place in my relationship, I was working a full time job, I was going to school full time and I was a mom of two children. It made sense that I was worn-out. Finally I brought up how I was feeling to my primary doctor. I asked should I take B12 and could he check my thyroid (I googled “why am I feeling tired”? yes I am a Google Addict)… I knew that something was wrong but I never thought “depression”.
After being diagnosed with Depression most likely brought on by birth which is when the symptoms started I was prescribed Lexapro. The medication made me feel horrible and I was even more drained. I went on feeling like this for about 6 months and gained a bunch of weight because of the medication which made me feel even more down. I decided to follow up with a psychiatrist for more complete diagnoses and for additional support with my treatment. After meeting with my psychiatrist she prescribed Wellbutrin XL which was supposed to help with the fatigue and had little to no effect on weight for most people. While this medication did make me feel better it still added weight. After about a year on this medication, after talking with my doctor, I decided to stop taking it and go a holistic route in terms of self-care. There are 5 things that I did and I am still doing in regards to my mental health and they have helped drastically. While there are still days that I feel a little sluggish, I am able to get up out of bed and do whatever needs to be done. Well most of the time. Some days if I can and there isn’t something extremely important to do I just chill on the couch wrapped in a blanket and binge watch my favorite television shows on Netflix … and this is completely okay.
- Get Help
One of the most important things that you can do is to get help. This means both professionally and personally. Let your family and close friends know how your feeling and what you’re going through. People who love you are usually willing to be a shoulder to cry on or someone to talk to. Speaking to someone professionally is also very important because fighting depression alone is dangerous. Just like we go to the doctors when we need support physically it is important that we see a doctor for mental healthcare. Your brain controls EVERYTHING … it’s your most important organ, so take care of it.
- Get Active
This step is so important. Exercise boost feel good chemicals in your brain called endorphins. When you’re depressed your energy levels can be damn near nonexistent, but you need to fight the feelings of being down by getting up. Go for a walk, try some yoga or even do some jumping jacks in place. I try to push myself to go for 15 minutes and usually I find that I can go longer once I get started. Not only will you FEEL better you’ll LOOK better too.
- Get Social
Isolating yourself while fighting depression is one of the absolute worst things you can do. By nature humans are social. Having some me time is important but you shouldn’t go long periods of time not talking to those you care about. It is easy to curl up and wallow in your sadness/tiredness/irritability by yourself but most will find that meeting a friend for dinner (no drinks – it can make you feel worst) or heading over to a family member’s house to watch a movie will make them feel a little better.
- Get Healthy
While there is no magical diet to cure depression our bodies are organic machines and we must be very aware of the type of fuel we put in it. Depression has a strange way of messing with your appetite… you either do not have one OR all you want is the things you should eat in moderation like cake, ice cream and cookies. There is scientific proof that certain foods help fight depression: dark leafy greens like spinach, kale and chard; Avocado, Berries, Seeds, Apples, Tomatoes, and many more. According to a recent study in JAMA Psychiatry, severe depression has been linked to brain inflammation. So Google anti-inflammatory foods and eat well.
- Get Positive
Fighting against depression is a mental fight which is why it is so tiring. I realized that thinking positive thoughts was and still is one of my hardest obstacles but now I force myself to think positive and speak positive affirmations. Anytime that I am feeling down I force myself to think logical thoughts, I think about my blessings and I focus on little things that I can change. I also started writing down how I was feeling, why I was feeling that way and what I could do to change it. This has definitely helped me a lot because sometimes you just have to see it written out.
Depression affects many people and has many different triggers but one thing that is certain is that it can be managed and you can feel better. Please keep in mind that depressed people don’t always look depressed and depression does not always feel like “sadness”. Depression can also lead to a person wanting to hurt themselves and suicidal thoughts which is why it is extremely important to seek professional help. If you or someone you know are feeling that way please have them call The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1800.273.8255.
Until Next Time Beauties …