As someone living with bipolar disorder, I spend more time in depressive episodes than hypomanic episodes. Depression is draining and frustrating. To be honest, sometimes, I want to give into my thoughts and end my life. But I fight against my thoughts so that I can see another day. Some people cycle through depressive episodes for the rest of their lives while others may only experience it once. Recently, I relapsed into a depressive episode and here’s what I learned from it.
I need to give myself grace.
Battling depression or any mental illness can be exhausting. It takes time to develop healthy coping skills, build a support system and find the right medication. I must give myself permission to feel my emotions and sit in my depressive episode. For example, if I have days when I can’t get out of bed, ignore phone calls, don’t get a podcast published, don’t eat or eat unhealthy foods more than I should, that’s okay. Depression is an illness just like any other health condition and sometimes, I am paralyzed by it.
Don’t believe the negative thoughts.
Turning negative thoughts into positive thoughts is one of the hardest things to do even if you don’t battle with a mental health condition. Whenever I have thoughts of suicide, I have to remind myself why I am worthy of living and that I have people in my life who care deeply about me. One way to practice positive thinking is to challenge negative thoughts. For instance, if you tell yourself that you are stupid. Ask people you trust to remind you that you are human and it's okay to make mistakes, and think of thoughts that disprove the negative thought.
T.H.I.N.K. puts things into prospective
Is the thought True?
Is it Helpful?
Is it Inspiring?
Is it Necessary?
Is it Kind?
Lean on your support system.
My family and friends are always there for me but one of my biggest support systems are the ladies at my gym. Exercise helps to manage depression but there are plenty of days when I can’t get to the gym. I attend an all women’s gym and they go above and beyond to make sure I am okay. They will show up at my house unannounced if they haven’t heard from me, text and call me to check on me, go on daily walks with me and let me spend the night at their house so I am not alone. I’ve learned to lean on the people who care for me and to let them know what I need to help me get back on track.