When I told my mom that I was depressed, all she had to say was: “It’s all in your head.”
It didn’t help, and made me doubt myself even more.
But, it is real, and on the rise. Not acknowledging it makes it more dangerous. It’s a problem, and it’s not going away unless we start dealing with it properly.
Bear in mind that even though it is devastating, it’s not the end. It doesn’t mean you’re never going to feel joy and happiness again. You will, slowly, and in small measures. You’ll learn how to cope, and how to manage this difficult condition.
Here are some ways a few Malaysians cope with theirs:
One call away
Being depressed can make it seem like you’re alone in the world. That’s why, for an extrovert like Wei Jie, there’s little that can’t be solved with a night out with his friends.
Despite the time apart and work obligations, his friends from high school still meet up once a week, to check in with each other. Ever since he opened up about his depression and his parents’ indifference, they made an effort to be there for him. They’d only be a call away if he needed an ear.
They made good on their promise and answered every call. They never judged when he cried or belittled his problems. Wei Jie even says that he owes his life to them. Knowing just how much he meant to them helped him pull through.
If you’re like Wei Jie, and venting about your problems makes you feel better—talk to your loved ones. Parents, significant other, or friends – find someone who understands what’re you going through and takes your problems as they are without judging you.
Reserving the hour
When you’re depressed, it gets harder to do the things you love. Your passions take a backseat while you try to take care of yourself, and that sucks. It really does.
After his father passed, Nathan spiraled. He stopped talking with his friends, he felt that his job was a dead-end, and he stopped drawing.
His passion for drawing developed when he was a kid. His dad pushed him in that direction after seeing how much he enjoyed arts and crafts in kindergarten.
After his dad passed, he couldn’t do it anymore, because it was too painful.
Of course, his mother worried. She nudged him and bought him new paints and brushes. To please her, he picked it up. It didn’t click the first time, but he started to enjoy himself when it became a routine. Painting became the one thing he looked forward to each day.
There are still days when he struggles to get up from bed. Even then, Nathan tries to set aside an hour to sketch, paint, and indulge in what makes him happy.
And that’s something everyone owes to themselves: Time. Put aside time each day to do what you love. Let it be the reward for making it through the day. It’s not selfish to take care of yourself.
Through their stomachs
It’s easy to think no one cares about you, but it’s not true. There’s always someone who does. Don’t believe the voices in your head.
For June, she silences the voices by providing for her family. Both her parents are working past their retirement age, and barely have time to eat a homecooked meal. They’re not getting younger, and they’re at an age where they have to be more health-conscious.
So, June takes it upon herself to cook for them, making sure they’re getting the nutrition they need.
When she sees how happy they are with her gesture, her life has more meaning. Even if it’s the last thing she wants to do after a long day at college, she’s happy to see them happy.
To June, being needed by those who matter makes her feel like she matters. She’s more motivated to heal.
In another world
After being diagnosed with clinical depression, Mira thought her life was over.
She was overwhelmed by all the medication and appointments with the psychiatrist. Instead of supporting her, her parents were disappointed and worried more about what their relatives might think.
While medication and therapy helped, what really helped her to cope was video games. She’s a fan of role-playing games where she has to save the world. In that universe, she isn’t surrounded by her illness. She isn’t Mira, the clinically depressed, but a hero with the power to change her destiny.
Given the chance, Mira models her character after herself to help immerse in the fantasy. While she knows it isn’t real, it inspires her to recover, so that one day she’ll be as strong as she is in the fantasy world.
If you’re depressed, know that you’re not alone. It does get better, I promise you. It’s not a straight and easy road, but you’ll get there eventually. Keep doing the things which make you happy. Start doing things for yourself.
If you feel helpless, there’s no shame in talking to a professional. Please don’t harm yourself. There are people who would love to help. Contact the suicide hotline and befrienders, who are willing to talk to you anytime.
(Names have been changed.)
This article should not be taken as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health providers with any questions you may have regarding a mental or medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this Website.