Last week, I did an interview with Colombia’s La Fm – RCN Radio (and no I don’t speak Spanish, which, after five years of living in Miami, is pretty pathetic).
In it, they asked me for the top five things I’ve learned in my fight against depression. You can listen to the whole interview here (don’t worry — it’s only 10 minutes, too short for me to bore you to death), but in addition, I thought I’d write y’all a list. Because I love you.
So, here are five things to remember when you’re battling depression:
1. You are not alone.
YOU ARE NOT ALONE. I repeat, YOU ARE NOT ALONE. Depression lies. It brainwashes you; leaves you believing you’re an island and no one cares and everything is hopeless. The truth is, there are millions of people out there who feel exactly as you do. They may seem well-adjusted and shiny and happy. But in the words of Glennon Doyle Melton, “people who need help sometimes look a lot like people who don’t need help.” That might include you.
2. Always ask for help.
There’s so much help to be had. Therapy, medication, support groups, hands to hold, shoulders to cry on. So many options, so many different paths. Don’t be afraid to ask.
3. Exercise and meditation help. A lot.
Harvard Health Publications has reported that exercise can be as effective as taking antidepressants — with effects that can potentially last longer. And meditation — whooooo boy, that stuff is powerful. There’s a reason people have been doing it for thousands of years. Try mindful meditation or loving kindness meditation, and stick with it.
4. Your brain can change.
Neural plasticity: it’s a thing. While our brain can create powerful negative thought patterns via neural pathways, we can also create new, positive patterns to take their place. It takes time and effort and serious dedication, but it’s absolutely doable.
5. You will make it out, but it takes work.
While there are plenty of medical professionals and organizations and loved ones willing to help, there’s no overcoming depression without putting in work. No one else can walk the path to recovery for us. We can have a walker to support us, a hand pulling us along, a shoulder to lean on — but we have to take the steps ourselves. Self-empowerment is everything. In the throes of hopelessness, this can feel impossible. But it’s not. You can do it.