Coping with depression is a daily battle. Depression recovery can take years, and there is no such thing as a "quick fix." There are, however, things you can do to bring rapid relief in times of stress, anxiety, and panic attacks. For me, that relief has come in the form of autonomous sensory meridian response (ASMR) — a strange online phenomenon that has been a source of comfort and relaxation for millions since the mid-2000s, even though most people have no idea what it is.
Coping with Depression
We are living in an age of unprecedented mental health awareness and mental illness empathy. Mental health stigma is decreasing. Mental health charities, awareness campaigns, and changes to the law in the last 10 years have created a social landscape where people feel much safer talking about their problems without the fear of being mocked, abused, and alienated. As someone with a mental illness, you would think I'd be thrilled by this, but the truth is that up until quite recently, I resented it.
First off, I want to clarify that depression and victim mentality are not the same. The former is a mental illness that no one can choose, while the latter is a mindset that may or may not be a choice. That said, victim mentality does play a role in depression, which is why it is crucial to identify and manage it.
Let's cut to the chase: depression is mentally and physically debilitating. Even if you are do not have low-functioning depression, depression limits what you can and cannot do. To prevent depression from getting worse, one needs to learn to set boundaries. Here's why.
My mental health has always suffered in times of isolation and uncertainty. As someone with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), I'm at my most content when I'm able to predict and control my surroundings. When that control is lost, my mind conjures terrifying hypotheticals about what "could" happen, and I start to engage in compulsive behaviors to bring order to the chaos in my mind. This exhausting cycle of thoughts and rituals invariably causes me to slip back into depression, and I'm left feeling like a failure once again. So, you would think that the uncertainty surrounding the current global pandemic would have my mental health in a tailspin. But no — it is better now than it has been in years, and it's precisely due to that uncertainty. The uncertainty leading to my isolation has improved my mental health.
Nobody is immune to the pressure to succeed. Whether it comes from family, teachers, bosses, or ourselves, the pressure to "achieve" is something we have all felt. It's not necessarily a bad thing: pressure (or your perception of it) can give you a competitive drive, the impetus to keep going when you feel like giving up, and it can result in great things, both professionally and personally. However, when that pressure to succeed becomes so intense that you lose sight of everything else, it's time to pump the brakes and reevaluate your priorities. Sure, success is great, but not when it comes at the expense of your mental health.
It's been nearly seven months of a dreary, dystopian existence, and this pandemic is worsening my depression. Ever since March 2020, life as we know it has changed forever. Living in this pandemic has been dubbed "the new normal," but there is nothing normal about it.
The decision to try for a baby is one of the most difficult you will ever make. However you choose to do it, there are about a million things to consider: am I the right age? Am I mature enough? Am I financially ready? Am I prepared for the toll this will take on my body, my relationship, my finances, and my career? Am I ready to give my heart and soul to this person I haven't even met yet? And for me, there was the big one: is it selfish of me to bring a child into the world given my history of depression and mental illness?
There are precious few things to be optimistic about when one is depressed, so you must be thinking I'm cuckoo. Well, allow me to explain. The way I see it, nihilism is a school of thought which believes that life is meaningless. Needless to say, that's a depressing point of view. Optimistic nihilism is, therefore, a brighter outlook than mere nihilism as it proposes that since life is meaningless, we are free to give it whatever meaning we choose.