Depression is possibly one of the most common illnesses found in our neck of the woods, especially in young adults. The reasons behind it could be varied. And they’re all equally important. It doesn’t matter if someone is suffering from depression because of a break-up, loss of a loved one, bad grades, or even a general onset, the point is that they’re suffering from depression. And it is just as bad for every single one of them. There is a massive stigma attached to mental illnesses in our country, where anyone who even slightly complains of going through something, they’re either called a retard, pagal, or just an active seeker of attention.
The truth is, depression is just as real as a migraine, or cancer.
Depression can lead to even greater complications if not attended to properly. The number of deaths taking place, worldwide, as a result of depression, is staggering. To think that so many people did not reach out to someone in their time of need. To think that all those deaths could have bee prevented if there was someone around. I understand the fact that having someone around doesn’t necessarily guarantee the absence of depression, but at least you know you’re not alone in this rat race of a life that we lead.
What’s even sadder is the fact that someone’s psychological sanity has become a money making business for a lot of professionals out there.
They’re either charging exorbitant amounts of money for each sitting with their clients, or they’re trying to get through as any patients during the day, so as to keep their numbers up, without realizing the fact that just having someone to talk to can bring about a change in a person’s mental well-being.
What a lot of people don’t understand is that the journey towards recovery starts with yourself. You can start on this path without seeking out help from a professional, without spending endless amounts of money, and without starting any medication.
The first thing that you need to understand that you’re not alone, in this.
As cliched as it sounds, it’s true. There are other people out there who are going through the same thing, and even if they’re not, they’ll understand what you’re going through.
The second step you take is that of identification – try to figure out what the problem is, what the actual problem is.
We all project our emotions onto things that didn’t necessarily trigger them. And that further aggravates the situation because it leads to other problems surfacing, as well. Most importantly, you need to rule out any other extraneous reasons that might have triggered your situations. One major reason could be a reaction to medicines, which happens more often than not.
You need to take the first step towards recovery, yourself. Acknowledging the fact that you’re in the deep end of the pool is the biggest leap you can take. Once you realize that you need help, and more importantly, that you need to help yourself, you’re already halfway there.
Understand that the road to recovery will take time.
We all think that in order to recover, there will be a miracle taking place overnight, and we’ll be completely fine the next morning, but unfortunately it doesn’t work that way. And there’s no one big thing that you can do that will lead you to being completely okay. There’s a whole build up of little things that finally translate into you getting better. There are minor changes you can make in your lifestyle that all contribute towards achieving mental stability and peace.
What you eat actually matters for your mental health
It’s been established that certain foods lead to mess ups in your brain. This includes food with a high sugar content, fried food; basically, all the junk food that you consume while stress-eating might make you feel good for a while but it’s actually harming you, in the not-so-long run. And whatever you do, don’t eat your feelings. But make sure you eat at least three meals a day, whether you’re hungry or not. And eat them at the right time. Don’t have dinner at 2 am and then snack at 4.
Get out of the house more often
That’s something you’d be tired of hearing. But it actually helps. You don’t have to spend the whole night out partying, you don’t even have to go out with someone. Go for a walk, a run, a stroll, or even just to sit in a park. You’d be surprised at how okay it is to go sit in a park in Pakistan, besides, the fresh air helps clean out your system.
Create a regular sleep pattern for yourself
It’s no secret that when you’re facing depression, your sleep pattern is the first thing to get affected. You start sleeping later and later and prefer sleeping in. But that’s not always a possibility because we’re all part of this crazy world that requires us to be present. So you end up being late at places, or not going at all. Force yourself to get into bed by 11 pm. Even if for the first week or two you’re just laying in bed, doing nothing. But as your body starts getting used to being in bed at that hour, your sleep pattern will also adjust itself. Wake up early in the morning, and that would anyway lead you to be tired by the time you should ideally sleep.
You need to up your physical activity by at least a few notches so your body feels good, which will lead to a positive impact on your mind, as well. Even if you’re just waking up and doing a set of 20 jumping jacks, or skipping for a while, it all counts. Going to the gym is obviously bonus points, you get to take your negative emotions out on the machines and you end up feeling so much better.
Sounds silly, no? But there’s a lot more to breathing than just taking in oxygen and pumping out CO2. There’s a breath count, there are patterns of breathing, there are breathing techniques that can actually help calm you down. So look into it. Here’s a very simple one as a starter, and one I personally use so I guarantee that it helps:
Breathe in to the count of 6
Hold it for 4 seconds
Breathe out to the count of 8
If you do even 10 sets every time you feel yourself sinking into negativity, I promise it’ll help calm your nerves.
Keep a journal on you at all times
Every time you have a negative thought, you write it down, along with what triggered that thought. It might seem tedious at first. Tbh, you might even forget a lot of times, but once you get into the habit of it, you’ll be able to understand yourself better. In terms of what triggers you, what you can avoid for your own sanity, and how you can help yourself out of this tangled web.
Your environment matters a lot
Stop listening to sad music. Stop hanging out with people who bring you down, even if it’s your best friend. And start surround yourself with people who make you happy. You’ll be surprised at how much it helps you feel better. If there are places in the city that bring back negative thoughts, avoid going there.
Keep yourself mentally (and physically) occupied
The more you stay alone with your thoughts, the more you’ll spiral into depression. Pick up a habit, learn a new instrument, binge-watch TV seasons, learn how to drive if you don’t know it already, or buy yourself a bicycle. With the social media generation, we tend to be holed up in our beds and stay on our phones and laptops all day – bad idea. Join a book club, take up painting classes, or just learn a new skill. This will make you realize just how much potential you have, because you do.
But no matter what you do, you need to realize that you’re not alone. It might seem like that, right now, and you might have felt this way for a long time, now. But you’re not.
Cover image via: MD Productions