Hi dear readers, this is a blog post not to scare you or be negative or to make others feel pity or any form of empathy, I am creating this blog post for those people who are suffering with severe depression, living with a person who has been diagnosed with the condition or for people to understand why some people may seem a little different compared to other people you encounter. In this blog we explore what life is like ‘after’ surviving severe depression.
1. You will never be the ‘old you’ ever again
When you begin to heal from depression of any level it is hard, it is like you are pushing against an invisible force, like a giant shadow demon that is trying its hardest to force you down and keep you there and not fight back against your condition. However, when you do start to fight back you realize something as you begin to rise up, the more you fight to become the old you, you know it is unattainable…
Many depressed people when going through the condition reading this right now may think this is a very scary thought but actually, leaving the old you behind is not a bad thing, you are still the old you but when you get through depression you change but for the better. You become more resilient, more caring of others, less concerned about others opinions, less fearful of risk and the uncertainty of life. Once you have survived depression it is often the case that you become a better version of your previous self.
2. Things that seem easy to others are harder for you
Even when you get over depression doing simple tasks like going the shops, taking regular showers, exercising regularly or just socializing with others can all take a lot more energy than for people without depression. Although a survivor of depression is no longer depressed they still think about things a lot before, during and after events, often analyzing over and over again every moment they have lived through and why it can take more energy to do the most basic of tasks.
Saying this, although things can be very hard at first, the more and more a survivor challenges themselves, their thoughts and their behaviors the easier it can become and the feelings of accomplishment, as strange as it may seem, become greater and greater particularly as you look back realizing you have survived quite an ordeal and have a mini celebration internally.
3. Others don’t understand you…get used to it
People who’s life has gone mostly well or not suffered much hardship just won’t necessarily get you…that is ok. When recovering you get the feeling that you are odd, different and still find it hard to laugh or make humorous conversation with others even though you really want to.
Some people I have had conversations with about depression often made me see society (in the part of the world I currently live) still deem someone with the condition as weak/ fragile but I know, god damn it, people with depression ARE NOT WEAK, far from it!
The depressed people tend to be the ones who have survived prelonged periods of severe hardship, torment of their own thoughts and the stigma of people’s reaction to them as having the condition.
This isn’t all bad news, yes some people don’t understand you (but many also do ) but you can learn to accept it and take comfort in the knowledge that you know you have been through some seriously tough sh*t and survived to tell the tale.
Nobody else needs to know what you have got through, the truth of the matter is, most people aren’t bothered about you, most of us are primarily interested in ourselves (again read how to win friends and influence people to understand this more).
Instead of wanting to fit in, learn to be ‘proud’ of yourself, you know what you’ve accomplished regardless of what anyone else thinks of you.
When you survive depression you will be more aware of the stigma around mental health but also learn to accept that not everyone will understand you because until you experience it yourself, it can be very hard to understand or comprehend .
4. You will have days when the depression comes back…and leaves again
Yes, a survivor of depression is no longer depressed but sometimes the grey cloud comes back to visit you and often, for no apparent reason. A survivor of severe depression may wish that the feelings of heaviness and sadness never come back but they also realize their emotions, all of them, are a part of who we are and acceptance of having a mild depressive episode is as important as feeling contented as often as possible.
A survivor of depression become understanding and accepting of their emotions and understands that life is full of ups and downs and it is almost impossible to be completely contented at all times.
5. You learn to live with the pain in your heart
Since I fell ill with severe depression, anxiety and being at clinical at risk of suicide I have had a heavy pain in my heart that simply doesn’t leave, even after 5 years.
I would describe it as a stabbing pain, others would describe it as a heavy weight around your heart area but it isn’t truly as tragic as I have possibly made it sound.
This pain, I believe, can also be the burning fire within that can help you choose to fight back against your life’s circumstances. It can motivate you to try to achieve the perceived unattainable dreams, to choose to make difficult decisions or to know that because you have a pain within nothing that you will confront in your life can hurt you because you are already experiencing difficulty so why worry?
A survivor of depression can often grow an unquenchable desire for change and a quiet strength of loosing fear of difficult situations.
6. You tend to have more empathy for people suffering in any way
Lastly, but not least, is that when you have been through severe illness, difficulties or hardships in life you know how it feels to suffer.
When in the midst of depression no one else’s world matters, you can’t see others suffering because you, yourself, are fighting to survive and you perceive your world as simply not good…until your world becomes better you are unable to help or see the difficulties of others but when you do get through your experience, you know better and gain genuine empathy for people with pain in their life.
It may not necessarily be someone with depression, although that is likely, but you notice the suffering of all types of people and begin to try to understand people’s lives better and try to think of ways you can alleviate the pain of others whilst, of course, not compromising your own comfort.
Are you a survivor of severe depression?
Are you a survivor of severe depression? Have you noticed any benefits of having experienced and survived your ordeal? Please leave a comment below or if you would like, you can also guest blog for Battle of Mind and share your positive stories with the readership of the blog. I hope if you are suffering depression you do choose to seek help from your GP, therapists, counselors or a charity.
Things can get better with the right people around you, please never give up, there are many people that work with mental health and not all will work well for you but others will and it is just a matter of finding the right people to help you along your journey.
You can be a survivor of this illness and you will be! Keep believing.
John | Founder of Battle of Mind