How did I get there? You have to do the hard work.
I tried for years to fight through depression and do it on my own. There is such a stigma. If I take meds and get an official diagnosis, I will have to mark that check box on medical history forms and insurance applications. I didn't want to do that. A future employer might see that and not hire me. I had a million reasons why I didn't want to label myself publicly as someone who struggles with depression.
So I developed my own strategies and they got me part of the way there. I needed medication to get the rest of the way there. It is possible to get weak with depression. So weak, that going to a doctor and admitting you have a problem might as well be climbing Mount Everest. I list my strategies here, so you can build some strength and get the help you need. I also list my strategies here because they can help you get though a rough patch if you are already medicated, and help with minor or short term episodes of depression that don't require medication. But I am not saying you should use these strategies in place of therapy and medication.
- Exercise. Doctors should prescribe exercise as a first line of defense. It releases endorphins, builds your confidence and relieves stress and anxiety. Start small if you need to.
- Sleep. Sleep at night and stay awake during the day. When you are depressed it is so tempting to sleep all day. Then you find you cannot sleep at night. This creates a cycle that makes you feel even more miserable.
- Eat. Eat healthy, regular meals even if you are not hungry. Force yourself to eat the carrots instead of the potato chips. Consider this your medicine. Provide your body with the vitamins and nutrients it needs to heal.
- Don't Do Drugs. This includes alcohol. Lots of depressives try to self medicate with alcohol or other drugs. It won't work. It will lead to worse problems.
- Force Your Self to Go Out. You must go out and meet new people. You must interact with people every day. Even if it is just getting a cup of coffee. If will feel fake at first, but more normal every time. You have to get used to talking to strangers about small talk, if you hope to talk to a therapist about the big things.
- Just Do It. If some activity is freaking you out, do it first. Get it out of the way. Postponing just makes the anxiety worse. Getting it done, can help you feel relief and accomplishment.
- Play. Find a child or find a dog and play. It's hard to stay depressed while getting doggie kisses or kiddo hugs.
- Mourn Loss. It's okay to be sad. Don't beat yourself up wondering what is wrong with you. We all get sad when we lose a loved one, say good bye to a friend or fail at something, That's normal. What's not normal is to get "stuck" in that state. So tell yourself - you've got three days to cry and eat ice cream, but after that, it's back to doing 1-7.