Written By Ali Barrett
Author Bio: Ali is a journalist, writer and entrepreneur who is passionate about contributing to the wellbeing and education of young people around mental health. She runs an online program for teen girls that help them develop positive habits and thinking strategies to build confidence, find inspiration and discover their true potential. - Website: www.girlspo.com - Instagram: @aliclaire___
I truly wish you discover the power of finding beauty and space in depression, or whatever ‘stuff’ you might have going on.
Mental health has always been a cause close to my heart, and something I deeply wish we could all work together on, to create a more productive, healthy, happy, and unified world.
I’ve endured chunks of my teens and twenties to quite debilitating bouts of depression.
I’ve seen loved ones…. friends… clients...partners… colleagues… go through their own battles, all with different magnitudes of experience and perspective.
To you - whoever you are,
that is reading.
I hope sharing the below things I've learned will encourage you to feel less alone, or gain some level of insight into understanding the actions or thought processes of someone near and dear to your heart going through a rough time.
Here are some of those things... take what is useful, discard what is not.
There are times when you’re healthy.
There are times when you aren't.
There are days that are easy. There are days that are, well, really… really… hard.
Just keep placing one foot in front of the other. No matter how slow or frustrating the step may feel. Learn to understand that everyone’s pace and step weathers a different footprint.
Depression is not something I can switch on or switch off, and ironically, for me it catches me unawares when I have the most positive times or wins in my life, and at the most inconvenient of times.
A change in routine can set it off, a hormonal fluctuation, a new relationship, a change in sleeping routine, an intellectual trigger, a smell.
It’s a constant navigation of ‘stuff’, big and small.
However, the beauty of this, is you learn how to stand grounded in some of the most tumultuous of circumstances, because you’re conditioned to minute-by-minute regulate your emotional state to essentially survive.
You develop a sense of compassion and universal understanding that everyone, in some way, shape or form suffers, at some point in their life.
Finding comfort in the sense of belonging to a greater human condition, that is all connected in some way can be empowering and immediately eradicate a sense of isolation.
Depression is a war of words.
It’s a manifestation of poorly phrased language that accumulates in your mind, with an element of emotional force.
You place meaning on words and thoughts that really have no meaning, or overemphasise the importance of an affirmation to your identity.
The flipside is this. You learn to understand the powerful charge of words. And that in turn, words you tell yourself will ultimately guide and mould your state and your actions.
Choose your words. And if that’s too much of a battle, immerse yourself in the helpful words, that move you forward and simply thank your mind for the non-helpful.
Depression is a juxtaposition of control and loss of control.
And both make you just as fearful.
It’s a continuous push and pull of both forces and a fine balancing act between the two.
Surrender to the idea that situations and circumstances are beyond control, yet create micro-actions that symbolise your ability to make small, controllable positive changes to the world & environment around you.
Tie your shoelaces, send a thank you note, message a friend.
The small things can often be overlooked.
Don’t lose yourself in the distraction of grandiose dreams of climbing the next mountain or securing the next investment deal, which may not even be your dreams.
Depression can make the smartest of people do the dumbest of things.
It creates a state of mind that registers people, places and experiences as an innate threat, and you act accordingly with fear. You push people away who try to help you, you say things you regret later, and you medicate in whatever way has the least path of resistance.
Stepping back from the mental fusion of these futile urges and separating yourself, instead of letting it define your identity, can create immense empowerment.
It takes just 5 seconds to gain insight and awareness - to stop and breathe - realising that with the power of time, even in the slightest of moments, can give you hope - that everything can change in a matter of moments, for the better.
Depression can be seen in two ways - as an illness, or the temporary loss of wellness.
The label you choose to define it as, will drastically impact on your process of recovery.
Sometimes really complex problems, have really simple solutions.
Little things, like exercising, feeding your body with good nutrition, writing down things you’re grateful for, and focusing on just one thing at a time can feel at times -ridiculing - in comparison to the magnitude of your black cloud.
But it works.
Simplicity is an ultimate pathway to action.
Like anything in this world, everything has an element of polarity - to a yin there is a yang, to light there is shadow, to a breaking point, there is always a breakthrough.
If you have found yourself at a breaking point, please remember the above universal laws of polarities… a breakthrough is near.
And with these polarities and spaces between moments of health and wellness, and illness, and life, and jobs, and relationships and all that encompasses life, there are glimmers of deep, resounding peace and connection.
Try not to be stubborn. Stubborn to change. Stubborn to support. Stubborn to professional advice.
To ANYONE out there who may be suffering.
I hope you’re okay. You are not alone.
We’re all in this together.
Life will at times be messy, uncalculated, confusing, heartbreaking, joyous, and full of moments of pride, beauty, boredom, lust, loss, routine and adventure, and by the laws of polarity will have plenty of shades of colour and grey.
Learn to hold on to each moment with delicacy and gentleness. Don’t try and stomp on a moment, push away ill-feeling, or smother moments of happiness with expectation.
Know you are loved. 💕
There’s help out there.