You Can Recover From Depression

I am 57 years old. I am a lawyer. And I struggle with depression.

I was diagnosed when I turned forty.  I didn’t know what was happening to me. But I knew something was wrong. I was crying quite a bit.  My sleep became disrupted. It became difficult to concentrate.  I felt no joy in my life.

Ultimately, my family doctor diagnosed me with major depression and provided me with the help I needed. I started going to therapy and was put on anti-depressants. This saved my life.

Since being diagnosed all those years ago, I have learned to live with depression as have many of the 20 million people who are living with this illness right now in this country.

One of the hardest truths I have learned is that while depression is not my fault (early on I blamed myself for not being tough enough), it is my responsibility.  I had to work at my recovery and still do.  It is my responsibility because the wisdom I learn in therapy is only effective if I apply it in my daily life.  This involves making the daily effort to invest in my myself like I’m worth it. In many regards, it is like managing any chronic illness like, for example, diabetes or heart disease by eating healthy foods.  With depression, we have to feed ourselves healthy thoughts.

Everyone needs to find the self-management tools that will help them. There is not a one-size-fits-all plan. Here are a few things that have helped me and others I have met on my journey:

  1. Therapy: depression is composed of lots of negative thinking that brings you down.  “I’m no good at anything,” “Why can’t I figure this out and just feel better?” or “I’m weak.” In addition to being negative and self-loathing, they are ruminative.  We think the same negative thoughts over and over again.  In therapy, we learn to recognize these distorted thoughts and think of ourselves and the world in a more realistic positive light.
  2. Medication: Not everyone needs to be on medication. But for some, it is an integral part of recovery.  Whatever the cause of someone’s depression, their brain chemistry may be askew and in need of medical intervention to recoveries.  Sometimes, it is difficult, as it was for me, to learn and put into practice the things you learn in therapy when you feel so god awful.  Medication can help people regain their footing so that they can benefit from therapy.
  3. Exercise: Moving our bodies is essential to feeling better on multiple levels.  It boosts our mood and plays a vital role in many recoveries.  There are times when I drop into a depression, and yes, I still do from time-to-time, that the only thing that will pull me out of the mud is some heart-pounding exercise on an elliptical at the gym.
  4. Spirituality: However you define it, connect with it. Find and relate to something bigger than your depression bubble: the majesty of a giant forest, God, the beauty of a smiling baby, the universe.  It can help give you perspective.

Yes, you can recover from depression.  You can learn to live with it.  I know because I have learned that depression doesn’t have the last say – hope does.

By Dan Lukasik

 

 

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5 thoughts on “You Can Recover From Depression

  1. Hi Dan,

    Thank you for your open and honest share, I suffered with depression and was on meds in my youth but have spent twenty years free of it now, I do believe it is all about finding your spirituality and the right mindset as you say. I am not a lawyer but I have helped many lawyers or people in the law in one way or another develop really strong and healthy mindsets and most of all connection to the spiritual. I felt moved to comment on your blog, so thanks again for your realness.

  2. You are welcome Dan, sharing is caring and vulnerability is the first thing we want to see in another but the last we want to see in ourselves as Dr Brene Brown says.

  3. Depression can happen to anyone Dan, for having the courage to share is surely a good gesture.You’ve impacted many people in similar situations who could not speak up. All the best!

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