Hello, my beautifuls! If you know anything about me from the past episodes, it’s that I have depression and anxiety. I will be glad to say that my depression is not as severe as it used to be. There were weeks where every day felt like a constant reminder of how crappy I was feeling about myself. I’d wake up unmotivated, walk through the day like a zombie, and then end the day feeling like I really didn’t want to do that all over again. Those days are long gone, but it doesn’t mean that I still don’t get triggered.
I want to clear up a misconception that a lot of people have, especially my clients. Depression and anxiety never truly go away. We just learn to cope with it better when it comes around again. As humans, we will always get triggered by things that make us feel uncomfortable. Whether it’s a situation out of our control, a place of uncertainty, or regrettable mistakes, it’s absolutely normal to feel uneasy, depressed, and anxious.
If you’ve been following my Instagram. You’ll see that I’ve had emotional days. I know I said earlier that I haven’t been severely depressed lately, and it’s true. I’ve spent the last three years of my life learning to become self-aware. I recognize when I start to feel depressive, and I react healthily to it.
There’s a client of mine who tells me that it’s hard to let go of their negative thoughts. To which I say, absolutely. It took me three years to get where I am today. It didn’t happen overnight. It took days of practice and even still, I struggle. And to put it into perspective for everyone, I started therapy three years ago and I just started feeling more in control at the beginning of this year, so only six months ago was I still suffering through a deep depression. And even then, it was gradual with ups and downs.
My point is the best thing you can do for yourself is letting go of the concept that once you reach happiness, you’ll never be sad again. Because the thing is, life is hard, and it will always tend to kick you when you least expect it. Sometimes, we will let our guard down, get comfortable, and then get shaken by drama, triggers, and whatever ugly the world wants to present. With the realistic concept that happiness isn’t the fix it all, we also have to accept that sadness isn’t forever as well.
How do we accept sadness and move on from it? How do we address it when it comes back again? Well, let’s talk about that.
So you’re probably familiar with what is called the stages of grief. There’s denial, this when you can’t seem to accept what you’re feeling. You tell yourself that it’s not you, it’s them. You tell yourself that tomorrow will make it better, and you don’t have to do anything. Then there is anger. Now suddenly, you start to direct your frustration towards things that may not have even been the issue, or you start feeling resentment. For example, when my husband quit his job, I started directing my anger at him. He was the cause of all my pain and frustration. When in actuality, I was mad at myself and feeling out of control. And then there’s bargaining, where you try to irrationally reason why things happened. So people will say, “If only I had done this, then that wouldn’t have happened”, or “What if I had said this instead?”. Then there is depression, this is when you begin to isolate yourself. Whether it’s physically or mentally, a lot of deep emotions are swirling through right now. I feel like this is where a lot of us get stuck at. And not only that, but we continue to replay all the stages of grief, except one, and that’s acceptance. We may at some point hit this point but can easily fall back into the cycle of grief if we don’t continue to solidify the positive outcomes.
I know this because I’ve gone through it. When I was going through depression and suicidal ideation, I believe I was stuck between depression, anger, denial, and bargaining. Every day was a constant loop of negative scenarios that played out in my mind. I would at certain points agree that I was depressed, and then immediately would turn into denial. I believe I did this because I really didn’t want to accept that there was something wrong with me. I wanted to blame my problems on everyone else. If everyone else had done their parts, then I wouldn’t be in the situation now. I realize that it was a very selfish concept that I had held onto for a long time.
But how did I exactly break out of this loop? Small steps.
I can never highlight and advocate enough on how important it is to talk to someone. I suggest someone who has gone through depression before. Someone who you feel you can trust and has validated you before. Or find a therapist. I know that the number one reason why people don’t is because of cost. It does break my heart to know that people can’t even afford to see a therapist. When it should be something as common as a physical check-up. With that being said though, there are many outlets for you to find a therapist. There are apps now that allow you to reach out to a therapist virtually. Unfortunately, these are not covered by insurance. However, they do offer sliding scales and are much more affordable. There are also hotlines. They don’t necessarily provide you with long term treatment care, but at least, it would help to vent it out and help you process through what is going on. Most often, people on the other line are licensed therapists or volunteers who are trained in mental health coping skills. There are also mental health life coaches. They cannot diagnose you, however, they do provide a safe space for you to work through your emotions and figure out the next healthy steps. Some life coaches are either licensed therapists themselves or in school to become one. The thing is you just have to do something, and I know that the most effective method is to let someone else provide their perspective so that you’re not stuck in your own narrative.
Second thing to do is feel it. If you feel crappy, embrace it in a healthy way. We all don’t like people who wallow and are negative all the time. However, it’s okay to say I’m feeling sad today. I’m feeling disappointed. This method is allowing yourself to accept that you don’t feel good and know that it’s okay not to feel happy. The method works best if you journal. This way you visually see what thoughts are playing through your mind. In most cases, you’ll realize that you had been playing a false narrative this whole time, and you just needed the time to realize it.
Third thing you can do is to rest. I had some emotional days that have occurred recently, and I knew that if I tried to hard to ignore them, then I’d eventually wear myself down. So in combination with talking to someone and feel my emotions, I gave myself time and a break from the normal. I took longer breaks. I watched more uplifting movies. I napped. I played games on my phone.
And then when I started feeling like I was being too restful, that’s when I knew that I was ready to go back into whatever I needed to get done. Most often people can’t get out of the resting mode, however, as long as you keep expressing and feeling your emotions, the more you’ll be able to let them go and move on.
The most important and last step is gratitude. I believe that without this part, we can never solidify all the hard work that we’ve done. Being thankful and loving ourselves is probably one of the hardest things we could ever try to do. Especially, if we’ve lived our lives feeling unloved and invalidated. Being grateful for myself was the last thing I learned to do.
First, I told myself that I should be grateful for my husband because, despite all my negative feelings, he wasn’t a bad husband. So I focused on praising him the best I could. Then I told myself to be grateful for my friends and the other people around me. I focused on the people who brought me happiness and joy. I focused on the good things they’ve done for me and affirmed that they did this out of the goodness of their hearts and not because they felt obligated to. And then it was time to focus on me. Every morning when I looked in the mirror, I stopped pointing out what I didn’t like about my face. I pointed out what I liked about my face. I stopped wearing makeup on a daily basis. I forced myself to become comfortable with the image I saw looking back at me. I told her kind things. I forgave her for her hurtful words, and I reminded her that she has made it so far. Then I began saying these good things verbally to the people around me. I wasn’t going to be afraid of being proud of myself. Whenever someone complimented me, I told myself that I deserved it and I earned it. And then when I felt sad or unworthy, I would remember to listen to my positive affirming side because she was me and I do love myself.
I practice all this day after day. I never stopped being grateful for my husband, my family, my friends, and myself. I began being more grateful for a lot more things. I’m grateful for my education. I’m grateful for the opportunities that have come and gone. I’m grateful for my job. I’m grateful for my clients and my life coaching practice. I can truly say that I am grateful for life and all it brings. I have never felt more ready to tackle challenging hills knowing that even if I fail, I succeeded in learning something new.