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I sat in the doctor’s office with my mother, terrified that something was wrong with me. I hadn’t slept in weeks, and my body was acting strangely. My heart would race, my body would become overwhelmingly hot, and my chest would tighten up as if someone was choking the life out of me. I just wanted an answer, any answer would do. After countless tests, from an echocardiogram to a heart monitor test, my mother and I would finally have an answer to what was happening to me. The doctor came in, “Sean’s test all came back with good results. Nothing is physically wrong with his body. However, what I think Sean is dealing with is common in teenagers, anxiety and depression.” I sat there confused. Depression? Anxiety? My mom looked at me; I could sense her worry turn to fear. It was as if she was horrified that her son was a certified psycho. I thought the same, “I’m crazy.”
Looking back at the day I was diagnosed, I realized that many of us don’t even know we’re dealing with depression. If we do, we often look at ourselves as crazy. From my experience, it’s a disorder that’s often looked at as taboo. Many people argue about how it should be treated, and some even have the nerve to say that there is no such thing as “depression.” In fact, I’m so embarrassed sometimes when I even mention that I have depression. I’m afraid of the stigmatization that goes along with it.
Let me tell you though, depression is real, and it is a very serious mental disorder.
Depression has been a personal demon of mine for several years. Some days are easy, and some are hard. Some days it can be a struggle just to get out of bed. Some days it’s a struggle to live with what I feel is the weight of the world bearing down on me. Some days my depression doesn’t even affect me. Although I have not been diagnosed with bi-polar disorder, my emotions can sometimes go from extreme highs to extreme lows. On top of my depression, I also deal with anxiety—I’ve learned that when it comes to mental disorders these two often go hand in hand. As I wrote before, I dealt with depression in high school because of the conflict of trying to accept my own sexuality. The bullying that went along with being gay didn’t help to improve my situation; in fact, it made it worst. Coming out wasn’t easy, and dealing with internal conflict wasn’t any easier. To deal with my depression, I resorted to self mutilation; a coping mechanism that can be extremely dangerous. Depression, anxiety, and self-mutilation are all things I deal with. I no longer self-mutilate, but that does not mean the temptation isn’t still there sometimes.
I’ll be honest, when the doctor told me my diagnosis; I didn’t want to acknowledge it. If I were to do so, I would admit to being crazy. But if it’s one thing I learned, the only way you can deal with depression is to first acknowledge it. I say deal here, because I know that my depression will be a life long struggle. But that doesn’t mean you can’t cope with it.
In honour of World Mental Health Day, I’d like to share how I live with my depression.
First, I acknowledge it. By acknowledging it, it makes it easier to live with. Once you acknowledge it, there are a variety of options in getting control of depression. When I ignore it, it can spiral out of control—suicide, self-mutilation are just two examples of depression left unchecked.
Talk to your doctor. I take 10 mg of Prozac, and it has helped stem my anxiety and the dark thoughts that often enter my mind. I am planning to work my way off of it. However, I understand that until I learn to deal with depression I need medication to balance my thoughts. With that said, be careful. Some medications can increase depression and can work differently for different people. The best way is to find a medication that works for you and your body.
I use writing as an outlet. I think constantly, and I often become overwhelmed by my own thoughts. I keep a journal with me at all times. When the thoughts become a jumble, I write them down and it helps me put things in perspective.
I am not an avid Yogi, but I have recently started to practice it. Yoga teaches people to live in the present, to breathe evenly, and enjoy what life has to offer. After a half hour of yoga, my body and mind are in tune. Your body and mind must be in tune at all times in order to control depression.
When I was in high school, I went to talk to a therapist. I no longer need counselling because I have been able to work things out on my own,but it took practice, and help from a person experienced in helping others with this type of disorder. Don’t be afraid to seek counselling.
6) Friends and Family
I surround myself with friends and family. I noticed that my depression manifests itself when I am alone. I get out, seek comfort from others, and I surround myself with those who love me. I may not always see my potential, but then others remind me that life is beautiful and worth living. Love is best medicine for dealing with depression.
This list isn’t exhaustive, and nor do I claim to be an expert on depression. I have found that these steps have helped me in the process of balancing my mind and body.
There are many options, but depression is very personal and specific for each individual. Find a routine that works for you.
Believe me you’re not crazy, and you’re not alone. Love yourself, and enjoy what life has to offer. I am not fully there yet, but each day I find myself accepting the challenges that life has thrown my way. I do thing’s that make me happy, and it makes living with depression a lot easier.