I had a bit of a health scare a few weeks ago, and while all turned out well in the end, what struck me was that my prevalent feelings throughout the whole ordeal were worry and sadness. I basically felt what any NORMAL person would feel in such a situation.
It got me thinking about how far I’ve come from the girl in her twenties who could barely tolerate being alive to the woman in her forties who genuinely looks forward to at least another 40 years of life.
When I first got depressed in my twenties, I sought help via all the usual channels. I had physicals to rule out medical causes, I went to therapy for a few years, and I saw a psychiatrist who prescribed anti-depressants.
But none of it made me feel happy to be alive. I continued to tolerate life, but to actually thrive and enjoy life remained a foreign concept throughout all those years. Eventually I abandoned treatment and decided to search for solutions on my own.
It took me many more years to stumble upon the solutions I needed, the truths I needed to learn. One by one. Here and there. Reading self help books. Pondering.
Looking back now, I can’t help but wonder how differently things might have turned out if I had found my solutions earlier. If someone had taught me the lessons I needed to learn at 25 that I needed 10 plus years to learn on my own.
So with today’s post, I want to be the person I needed when I was younger. If you are still searching for your solutions, I want to share with you what I wish someone had said to me all those years ago when I first started struggling with depression. The truths I needed to learn are very specific to my personality, so some of them may not apply to you at all, but even if only one sentence in this post strikes a chord, I will be satisfied. 🙂
This is what I wish someone had said to me:
1 – The fact that nothing feels good right now is not necessarily a sign that there is something physically wrong with your brain that makes you incapable of feeling happy. It may be that you haven’t yet found out what you need in order to feel good. I can help you figure out what your needs are.
2 – You are an introvert. The fact that you don’t want to socialize as much as your extravert husband or your extravert friends is not “withdrawal” and is not a sign of mental illness. You need a lot of quiet time and long periods of solitude to feel your best.
3 – You are highly intuitive. The advice to “be present” and “stay out of your head” and “clear your mind” is not good advice for you. You need more thinking time than you are currently getting and not less. The more you can let your mind run free without distractions, the more the insights and solutions to your problems will come to you naturally.
4 – You are a highly sensitive person. You are easily overstimulated and you need more rest than the average person. But in the end, your sensitivity is more of an asset than a liability. Your sensitivity is the key to your intuition, empathy, and creativity.
5 – You feel like you don’t belong in this world, because all of your life, you have been mostly surrounded by people with interests and preferences and ways of thinking that are different from yours. The feeling of not belonging is not irrational. You don’t belong in those people’s world. But you can create your own world with people you do belong with.
6 – You don’t enjoy life, because you are living for other people, fulfilling other people’s standards. You need to learn how to align your life with YOUR interests and YOUR preferences. You need to learn how to set boundaries and how to stand up for yourself. You need to learn to let go of people and situations that are not good for you. I can teach you how to do that.
7 – You feel hopeless, because you don’t like your life right now and society is telling you that there is something wrong with you if you don’t like the kind of life that most other people are okay with. You feel hopeless and stuck and like you don’t have any options. But I’m here to tell you right now that there is hope. That you have options. That you can lead a different life. That life doesn’t have to be only about stress and exhaustion and difficulty.
8 – It seems that all these different anti-depressants you have tried are causing more problems than they are solving. Instead of taking medication to tolerate a lifestyle that stresses you out, how about focusing on creating a lifestyle that is less stressful and more suitable for your personality? I can help you figure out what that lifestyle looks like and how to achieve it.
9 – Have you tried running or other exercise to help you relax and reduce your stress levels? Moving your body regularly will alleviate many of the physical anxiety and stress symptoms you are experiencing, and if you choose a solitary sport, exercising will also serve as introvert recharge time.
10 – It’s ok to stop analyzing and re-living the past and focus on improving the present and the future. We can’t change the past, but we can change the future.
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