Life Coach Magazine

Dealing With Depression and Having a Great Life Despite It

By Bren @Virtual_Bren

This post is in response to Bren’s inquiry for someone who’d speak honestly and frankly about depression:

Before I get into the nitty gritty about depression, if you stop reading beyond this first paragraph, I want you to know that you can have a rewarding, loving, and wonderful life if you get the right help. “The right help” equates to medication and counseling and the support of trusted family members and friends. Get help. Never feel shame or embarrassment if you are experiencing depression.

The Difference Between Being Depressed and Being in a Depression

Being depressed is a fleeting feeling (generally speaking, ranging from a few days to a few weeks) and it can often be associated with something specific, such as grief or loss or a crisis/change in your life. In contrast, depression is immobilizing. All consuming. It seems like you are carrying around a 500-pound weight. Everything feels bleak and thinking straight is very challenging.

My Depression Journey

I think I’ve suffered from some degree of depression off and on as far back as I can remember. But the **@!!! hit the fan in my senior year of college. I was home on winter break and I came down with a severe case of the flu. I got so dehydrated that I had to be hospitalized. When I was “better” I didn’t know who I was, where I was going, or what the hell was going on. I was lost. Although it wasn’t diagnosed at the time, I had fallen into a full-blown state of depression. This was in the mid-1980s and not nearly as much was known about depression as there is today. Doctors kept saying my symptoms were just residual from the flu or I was worried about what I was going to do after college. I knew full well that neither was an accurate diagnosis. Things got so bad that I dropped out of school for a semester.

I could not have survived this time period in my life without my mom. She never doubted me or gave up on me and she stayed by my side all the time. More than one stupid person told me, “If you really wanted to snap out of this you would.” We finally found a doctor who “got me” and helped me regain my footing.

Over the years, I’ve moved around and, as things go with any move, you have to find new doctors. In terms of treating depression, I have been to some whackos – like a doctor who took me off medication cold turkey and I nosedived, and another who was murdered by her own brother. Oh the stories I could write a book about.

My Life Today and How I Manage Depression

Dealing With Depression and Having a Great Life Despite It

“Image courtesy of Stuart Miles/”.

I am so very grateful beyond description for my life today. Overall, my life is stable and joyful. Although there have been difficult days, depression has never stopped or hindered me in my life journey. I have had more than one successful career and just started an exciting new one traveling to colleges and speaking to students on the topic of “relationships.” (Did I tell you I’m 56 years young?) I have a fantastic husband, 24 years and counting. My daughter amazes me everyday. And I have Bongo, a rescue dog I’m madly in love with; any time he cuddles with me is wonderful, but when I’m having a difficult day, that love means more than ever.

I have a few medical professionals that I turn to when I need them. Besides being highly professional in their understanding of depression, they are always compassionate and caring. I take medication daily.

My personal support system is my husband and a few family members and close friends who I can confide in. When things are feeling bleak, which now, fortunately, is infrequent, I can be honest and up front with them and they all know how to just “be there” for me.

In my opinion, depression isn’t something that goes away and stays away forever. I have learned to recognize triggers and manage them. A wonderful doctor who helped me when I lived in Baltimore in the early1990s told me something that has stuck with me ever since, “Sheryl, you have to steer your own boat.”

I hate depression, but I’m not afraid of it. I know there is always a way out and brighter days are ahead, much, much brighter.

How to Keep on Living if You are in a Depression

There are plenty of medical websites that provide symptoms and treatment of depression, so I’m not going to repeat any of that. But there’s a gap – realistic things to do if you are actually the person in a depression, feeling sad, immobilized and stuck. Here are my suggestions…

  1. Get mental health counseling from the right person. This may take some trial and error. Don’t go to someone who just sits there and lets you babble and then hands you a bill. You want someone who believes you, is pro-active in the conversation, provides insight that makes sense to you, and gives you action steps to help yourself. The best way to find good professionals is to ask other people. Once you start talking with others, you will be amazed at how many have sought mental health support. (I don’t understand why mental health care is so secretive in our society.)
  2. Don’t be afraid to take medication. There are an abundance of medications available today for depression. You may have to play some medication roulette to find the one that works best for you. It sometimes takes a couple of weeks before you start to feel the cloud lift. Many people fear the side effects of anti-depressants. They are often treatable or tolerable. If they’re not, try a different medication. Believe me, when you start feeling better, the difference will be remarkable!
  3. Draw support from trusted friends and family members. You’ve likely been there for so many people. Now it’s time to ask them for the same. Who are your best friends? Who are the family members that really care about you? Let them know that you’re having a rough time and you just need some hugs and love. They will be more than happy to give these things to you.
  4. Make little goals for yourself and pat yourself on the back for doing them. Whether it’s unloading the dishwasher or fixing your hair or taking a walk around the block, you’ve got to get yourself out of yourself in small ways that you can realistically manage. And when you do them, feel proud of your accomplishment.
  5. Be patient with yourself. Don’t beat yourself up over not being able to do all the things you usually do. It doesn’t help the situation. Tell that inner negative voice to be quiet because you’re doing the best you can at this moment in time.
  6. Get yourself out of the house and do things to help make you feel good. Go to a card shop and read the funny cards, go to a department store and spray on some perfume from testers, ask a friend to take you out to lunch or to a movie. Getting out and about in positive ways can be refreshing and a perk up.
  7. Do not commit suicide. Yes, I know this is harsh to say. Here’s what you need to remember: When you’re in a depression, you want the pain to die. Not you. If you are feeling suicidal, call a family member or friend or get to a hospital for immediate help.
  8. Know that you can and will feel much better, and you will return to normal. It won’t happen overnight, but with all of the above suggestions, you will recover and return to being you. Everything you know and love will be there for you! (Probably even more!)


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