It can happen in a second. One minute you’re feeling good about life and then boom, it’s dark again.
When you suffer from depression, you don’t have the luxury of quickly “snapping out of it.” You can’t just go back to before — before the disease reminded you that you’re worthless and a failure. Before it told you there’s no use trying to reach your goals because you never will.
The messages you hear from your own mind have the power to isolate you. You get trapped in a place of loneliness where you actually believe what you’re thinking; so you sink and fall back into that dark hole of despair and it feels like there’s no way out.
After years of experiencing this “no matter what” depression, it can still take me down.
“No matter what” depression happens even if you can count 1,000 blessings. It doesn’t matter if you haven’t had your heart broken, been fired from a job or lost a loved one recently — the depression switches on and you feel doomed. Here are some actions I’ve taken to relieve some of the suffering that comes with this disease.
Before, accepting my depression didn’t feel like an option. I thought it meant accepting I’m OK with it. And if I was OK with it that meant I liked it. I now know this is my key to freedom because acceptance is an active choice. By accepting it, I feel free.
Surrendering is another action I never thought was a choice, but it absolutely is. Surrendering doesn’t mean giving up — I can be a strong person and still surrender. It just acknowledges that fighting against ourselves doesn’t get us very far. But what do we surrender and to whom do we surrender it? In surrendering myself to God, I realized I cannot overcome my depression on my own. When I get to the point of being 100 percent ready to surrender, I get on my knees, close my eyes and say, “God, I hand this pain and suffering over to you. Please give me strength to make it through this day. Amen.”
The last action I take is to actively practice self-compassion. When your mind is telling you horrible things that are temporarily out of your control, self-compassion is absolutely necessary. For example, when bad thoughts arise instead of saying, “See, you are doomed to feel depressed forever. You are such a loser. You’re isolating from people again today,” I choose to say to myself, “I love you and support you no matter what. You are not your thoughts and nothing you are thinking is the truth.” This takes such a weight off my shoulders. I choose to respond to negative emotions with sympathy, kindness and understanding.
“If your self-compassion does not include yourself, it is incomplete.”
— Jack Kornfield
Just knowing there are things I can do when that “no matter what” depression hits makes this unfortunate experience a little less painful. These practices have allowed me more freedom and inner strength, and for that I am eternally grateful.