Love Yourself Again is over a year old, but I haven’t done with it what I really wanted. Or, perhaps, I took on too much with too little dedication and discipline.
I wanted this website to be a place where anyone can learn about depression: how it affects the afflicted and the loved ones, how one heals and overcomes the darkness, and how one lives through all the pain.
I wanted this website to be a place where others with mental illness can find solace, understanding, and different ways of dealing with the monsters in our heads.
I still want the same.
But, this time, I’ll drop the pretenses and just write from the heart, without being formal and cold and distant. At least as much as I can… I tend to write formally, even in casual online chats with friends.
And so, a new journey begins.
What is Depression?
A major depressive disorder — usually just called “depression” — is different than the “blues”. Someone experiencing depression is grappling with feelings of severe despair over an extended period of time. Almost every aspect of their life can be affected, including their emotions, physical health, relationships and work. For people with depression, it does not feel like there is a “light at the end of the tunnel” — there is just a long, dark tunnel.
Doctors diagnosed me with a major depressive disorder 5 years ago. Before then, I didn’t know what was wrong with me. I constantly asked why I felt so miserable and unloved in spite of the bountiful blessings I have been receiving. I couldn’t figure out why every little incident upset me. I wanted to physically wring my brain and get rid of the unpleasant feelings in my head.
After the diagnosis, I felt relieved to have an explanation of what I was going through. But of course, it wasn’t enough just to know. Because of depression, I did poorly in school. My relationships with my family and friends suffered. I lost interest in activities that I used to love. I felt misunderstood and taken for granted. I felt alone and isolated.
Depression is a real illness. It is as much a physical ailment as it is a mental condition. J.K. Rowling personified depression in her Harry Potter series as such:
“Dementors are among the foulest creatures that walk this earth. They infest the darkest, filthiest places, they glory in decay and despair, they drain peace, hope, and happiness out of the air around them. Even Muggles feel their presence, though they can’t see them. Get too near a dementor and every good feeling, every happy memory will be sucked out of you. If it can, the dementor will feed on you long enough to reduce you to something like itself…soulless and evil. You’ll be left with nothing but the worst experiences of your life.”Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
The Journey to Healing
Yes, depression sucks the life out of you, but there are always moments, no matter how ephemeral, when you get that sliver of hope or drop of strength that you can muster to cast a patronus charm and get yourself out of the grips of the dementors.
There is no one solution to healing. It may take a lot of trial-and-error before you find the treatment plan that works best for you. In my case, I went through three different antidepressant medications before settling into one that works best in balancing the chemicals in my brain. I did therapy with several different counsellors before deciding to leave the comfy couch for an undetermined period. I tried various exercises and meal plans that would help me take care of my body. I’m still in the process of finding what works for me.
It can be very daunting and overwhelming to find ways of overcoming depression, but you are not alone. We’re in this together.
No matter what you’re going through, love yourself again.