Is it possible to get over depression? And if so, can I do it?
We all have moments when we feel out of sorts. Sometimes we just feel a bit off – lethargic, but okay – and sometimes we feel downright depressed – unable to move, unable to function, unable to connect.
And I don’t use that term lightly. I suffered with depression for 6 years before I learnt how to change my state, how to reconnect with myself and, ultimately, until I made some pretty major decisions in my life…until I changed my life.
In my experience, depression doesn’t happen over night. For me it was years and years of neglect. I neglected how I felt. I neglected what I wanted. I neglected who I was. And it took me over a year and a half to get over depression when the journey back began.
Initially, I was offered medicine by the doctors but I knew that wouldn’t help me, not long term. Sure it would change the chemical balance in my brain and help me feel better but my depression wasn’t chemical deep down – it was a deep f**king sadness that had built up over years and years. I’d neglected myself – how I felt, what I wanted, how I wanted to live life. I just went with the flow over and over until the true me was completely lost in a void and I couldn’t fathom a way back. No, I didn’t just want to feel better – I wanted to get better.
Plus, in my initial half hearted research about depression, I’d learnt there are other ways (than medication) to change the chemicals in our brains that have other benefits too and so I got curious…is it really possible to get over depression without medication and if so, could I do it?
That’s all I did. I started with those questions. And little did I know the journey I was letting myself in for! Wowsas.
As it turned out, I learnt that it is possible to get over depression and I believe it’s possible for the vast majority of people who ask that question; that terrifying, humbling question. But it takes work. All kinds of work – mental, physical and spiritual.
For me, I think I’d fallen out of alignment with who I was and what I loved, not overnight but day by day, year by year until I completely checked out of my mind. I’d ignored my passions, my joy, my needs and fell victim to the expectations of others. I became a people pleaser and literally depressed my personality until it wasn’t there any more. Hello black hole.
And it was a long road back, because everything in my body and mind said ‘give up’, ‘go back to bed’, ‘what’s the f-ing point’. I mean right?!
But despite the pain, the fear, the doubt, I didn’t quit. I had to know: is it possible to get over depression and can I do it?
I kept those questions in focus and tried everything.
On my journey out of depression, here’s what I learnt:
– You don’t have to ‘get over depression’ straight away, you just have to focus on feeling a little bit better every day, just a little bit. What makes you feel better? For me it’s being around dogs, baking / jigsaws to take my mind off that incessant chatter. Oh and running. Now imagine a morning baking, followed by a walk or run on the beach. Hello dopamine and serotonin!! Goodbye cortisol.
– Exercise of any form – a walk, a swim, a run – will lift your soul, fill your brain with magical feel good chemicals (the same ones in anti-depressants) and it will make you feel like a badass. Even better if you can take your shoes and socks off and get your feet in the earth. I mean come on – who doesn’t go on a run and smile secretly to themselves because you know you’re a winner!
– The news and dramas on TV are super unhelpful. When you see something on the news you experience a version of it – we’re empathetic people. So if you see something sad, you’ll experience the emotion of sadness. If you see something scary, you’ll experience fear. One of the biggest things I did when getting over depression was dramatically changed what I took in. I stopped watching the news and, really, TV altogether and I started reading motivational books and inspirational stories. If the news was on in someone’s house or a meeting room I’d literally get up, make up a decent excuse and go into the other room.
– Self love can be so hard but it’s so important. Alice, my partner, said to me: “Lisa you need to fall back in love with yourself”. And she encouraged me to stand in front of the mirror every day for weeks to tell myself ‘I love you’. I couldn’t do it. Nope. It wasn’t true. When I finally did muster the courage to say it I broke down in tears and fell to the floor. It was a breakthrough.
– What you eat matters. Some foods are good for us (and I do include cookies and scones on that list hehe) and some foods are bad for us. It doesn’t matter what the health guidelines say about the food, what matters is how you feel eating it. I feel good having a cuppa, eating a vegan cherry scone I baked myself, especially if I’ve eaten well that day. I feel bad eating an entire family bag of sweets or tub of Pringles. The trick is to eat more of what feels good and less of what feels bad. Rocket science, I know! But don’t cut anything out – that’s too hard. Replace one thing for another. That’s probably why I got back into baking – I know exactly what’s in my cakes hehe. Yes, I still eat cake.
– What you focus on matters. I used to wake up full of anxiety and fear about everything that could go wrong. I worried about money, people, my weight, clients, my business, my family. The noise in my head was overwhelming. At an event one day I learnt you can’t stop your thoughts from coming up, but you can replace them. And so I wrote an affirmation for myself. When I woke up, the bad thoughts would start and I’d reach for my affirmation and read it out until I felt better. Then, I’d write out five things I was grateful for, go on a run (brutal by the way) and get cracking with my day. It wasn’t perfect, but it was an approach that helped.
– It’s a journey! I don’t know if you ever fully recovery from a mental illness and I think we all suffer like this at some point in our lives. The key is to keep doing what makes you feel better, even when you are better. For me it’s running, gratitude journalling, walking dogs and baking. That’s pretty much what my Instagram feed is full of.
I did a few other things too but these are my core strategies for getting over depression.
It’s weird to think who I’ve become and what I do now. The truth is, this version of me was always ‘in there’. I’d just battered her down so much she didn’t even know how to speak any more. My journey was a journey back to me.
In time, I started to express myself more – in blogs, in what I wear, in getting my hair cut, in what I tolerate from other people.
Now, I’m a fierce ass warrior who knows who she is and I’m pretty unstoppable. Because I once dared to go on the journey. I once dared to asked a question: is it possible to get over depression and can I do it? I once dared to grow.
This is why this page is called DARETOGROW. It’s about finding the courage to do what we fear in order to feel just a little bit better each day.
And in time, who knows what you’ll be capable of…
When you read this, I’d love to know where you are in your journey. Do any of the feelings or ideas in this blog resonate with you? There is a way out of depression and if we can talk about it a little more each day, things will start to get better. If you’ve overcome depression, please do share your story or what worked for you below. Who knows who it might help. One day not so long ago, a blog like this helped me.
Lisa x x
P.s. I have filmed and continue to film my whole journey out of my old life and into my new life. If you’d like to join in my journey as I continue to grow and change my life, be sure to subscribe on YouTube. I release a new vlog sharing what I’ve learnt nearly every day.
Vlog – playlist…take your pick: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLLx7wQDoRJXSBnNCvDQed8zVfrBWESe-G