Disclaimer: In Real Life is a platform for everyday people to share their experiences and voices. All articles are personal stories and do not necessarily echo In Real Life’s sentiments.
When I started university at 20, I was the happiest I had ever been. I found friends that were considered friends for life, was dating an amazing guy, and my studies were good too. Everything was falling into place.
I found myself laughing harder than I have before, even at the slightest things. I had the life I dreamt of, and I was surrounded with good people.
One day I woke up and started feeling gross.
I felt sluggish and blue the whole day. “It’s just one of those days,” I told myself.
But deep down, I knew something was off.
This went on from a day to a week, and from one week to a few weeks. It felt like I was drowning when everyone else around me was breathing perfectly.
After 3 weeks, I started getting a deep feeling of dread. A voice in my head started to convince me to stay in bed all day. “Something will definitely go wrong if you get out of bed today,” it told me, and I believed it.
People started noticing the changes in my mood. My friends would ask me, “What’s wrong?” or “Did someone say something bad to you?”
I couldn’t think of a response, because outwardly, nothing changed. Everything was going as great as it was. My grades weren’t slipping, my friends were supportive, and I was with a great guy.
My mind just decided to flip a switch and make everything harder to feel happy about.
As the months went on, I started feeling more and more empty. I’d just become so numb. Eventually, my parents finally took me to a doctor.
For the first time in my life, I was diagnosed with severe clinical depression. When I received the news, all I felt was… frustration.
Everyone had been asking me, “What’s wrong?” and I wanted to know why too. But the diagnosis didn’t give me any answers.
I went from being content with everything to not liking myself. I’m being selfish, I thought. Something is wrong with me for not being satisfied with everything I have.
I started becoming my biggest critic.
Not knowing why I was feeling this way made me say stuff to hurt myself. I became my own punching bag.
Why do I have to study? I am stupid anyway.
Why do I have to go out? They don’t actually want you there.
When my boyfriend doesn’t call, I would just think, he doesn’t love me and wants to leave me.
It was exhausting. I had to take antidepressants to help me sleep, and for a while, it worked. I would sleep longer at night. But when I wake up, it’s the same inner voice again, telling me, you’re stupid, nobody wants you around.
I used to cry everyday because of the way I was beating myself up mentally. Sometimes it would be midday and I would have already cried 3 times, and I’d still have to go through the rest of the day.
I’d have to repeat my whole day, hating myself for being depressed when I have so many good things around me.
Self-love felt like a chore.
I tried to reverse the effects by repeating words of encouragement to myself, after reading about it online, words like “you’ve got this’ or ‘you can do it!’ But they just seemed disgusting to say or hear.
It always seemed like lies, even though it was coming from me. When my mind hears ‘you’ve got this’ it would just feel like it’s ‘you can’t even do this simple thing, you are so bad at everything.’
Everything became pointless to me. I lost motivation to do anything, even simple things like laundry, brushing my teeth or even eating.
My mother would ask me what’s wrong? She wanted to understand, but I would just ignore her. I couldn’t help it, I felt terrible about it. But in my mind it was just kept saying there’s no point, she is not going to understand.
In movies, it always showed that one gets depressed when someone dies or if you have a bad breakup. No one really tells you that you can just wake up and be depressed even though nothing terrible has happened.
As I went to therapy more often, I realised that it was okay to not be okay. It’s a chemical imbalance, and it wasn’t my fault. It was not anyone’s fault really.
I realised I didn’t need to have a reason to be depressed.
When I realised that, it felt like a weight was lifted off my shoulders. I was still depressed… but somehow, better.
Going to therapy in a better mindset made it more effective.
I would go to therapy once a week, do my breathing exercises and journal my feelings.
My therapist gave me this activity to count how many seconds I can hold my breath. So whenever I got agitated, I would hold my breath for around 5 second and let go slowly for another 5 seconds.
I’d repeat this a few times until I calm down. This really helped my anxiety attacks because instead of letting my mind run, I would be focused on counting which distracted my mind.
Every night, I wrote about how my day went, and how I felt throughout. It’s nice, it feels like your safe space where you can vent. I still do this until today, and it’s refreshing to see how far I have come from then when everything seemed wrong to today.
I could feel myself progressing, I found myself genuinely smiling and laughing.
I had more motivation, my grades started becoming better. I would go out when my friends call me out. I started letting more people in.
After a while, I started going to therapy once every week, and then once a month. Eventually I stopped, it’s been two years since I saw a therapist. I do have my dark days once in a blue moon, but I know how to handle it better.
Whenever it’s one of those days now, I force myself to get out of bed and go for a hike, swim, or rock climbing — anything active so I put my energy into that.
It’s really refreshing, and it makes me feel productive too.
My advice for anyone working on their depression
You don’t always have to feel your best. It’s alright to be down, so don’t blame yourself. But if you can, seek professional help, talk to somebody.
One thing nobody talks about is that not every therapist is a fit for you.
I went through 2 therapists to finally find a perfect one. It was not their fault, I just didn’t click with them. It’s like friends, some you don’t get along with and some you can click with and open up instantly.
Similarly, not every medication is suitable for you. Some may make you feel worse and some help you. And if you are taking medications, don’t abuse it, take it responsibly.
It’s not a one-size-fits-all situation. Take your time and find what works best for you.
For more stories like this, read: Your Mental Health: When You Know It’s Time to Get Professional Help and Depression: 5 Hidden Signs of Suffering
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