Hi, this is an article to help those suffering with depression right now that there are positives from the experience. We are creating this article for those people who are suffering with severe depression so they know there is light at the end of the tunnel. We hope this can help others understand there is some good that can come from going through the illness. In this article we explore what life is like ‘after’ surviving severe depression from lived experience. We share the traits of a survivor of severe depression.
1. You Will Never Be The ‘Old You’ Ever Again…The Old Bad Bits But Still Retain Your Good Bits
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. It wants you to stop 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…
If you are depressed, reading this right now may think this is a very scary thought to leave the old you behind. Leaving part of the old you behind is not a bad thing. You are STILL the old you but different. 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 all the uncertainties life can bring. Once you have survived depression it is often the case that you become a better version of your previous self.
2. You Find Strength And Motivation To Do Things Others May Not As You Become Familiar With Often Having To Push Yourself
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. This is why it can take more energy to do the most basic of tasks.
Although this may be the case, things can be very hard at first. The more and more a survivor challenges themselves, their thoughts and their behaviors the easier life becomes. The feelings of accomplishment, as strange as it may seem, become greater and greater. Particularly as you look back, you realise you have survived quite an ordeal and have a mini celebration internally.
3. Others Don’t Understand You… You Get Used To It & No Longer Care
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 even, and still find it hard to laugh or make humorous conversation with others. Even though the desire to do so is what you really want to.
Some people the founder of Seek A Therapy had conversations with about depression often made me see society still deem someone with the condition as weak/ fragile. But we know, the opposite is true! People with depression ARE NOT WEAK, far from it! They are stronger than most people you will meet.
The depressed people tend to be the ones who have survived prolonged periods of severe hardship. Then they are tormented with their own thoughts. As well as the stigma of people’s reaction to them as having the condition.
Not all bad news
This isn’t all bad news, yes some people don’t understand you but many also do. This is something you learn to accept. You can take comfort in the knowledge that you know you have been through some seriously tough sh*t. You survived and now you can tell your tale and support and help others.
Nobody else needs to know what you have got through. The truth of the matter is, most people aren’t bothered about your story. Most of us, whether we admit or not, are primarily interested in ourselves. To understand more, I recommend you read how to win friends and influence people.
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. You also learn to accept that not everyone will understand you. Until you experience it yourself, it can be very hard to understand or comprehend the illness.
4. A Survivor Of Severe Depression Learns How To Cope Better With Ups and Downs
Yes, a survivor of depression is no longer depressed but sometimes the grey cloud comes back, sometimes for no 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 becomes more aware of their emotions. They understand and accept 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 Become Stronger And Use Emotional Pain In A Positive Way
Since the Seek A Therapy founder fell ill with his mental breakdown in 2011 he had a heavy pain in his heart. It simply didn’t leave. Even after five years.
It could only be described 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 provide determination and desire. The burning fire within 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 the difficult decision rather than the easy one. To know that because you have a pain within nothing that you will confront in your life can hurt 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. A Survivor Of Severe Depression 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. Once 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. You gain genuine empathy for people who live with all types of pain in their life.
It may not necessarily be someone with depression. Although this is likely, but you begin to notice the suffering of all types of people. You begin to try to understand people’s lives better and try to think of ways you can alleviate the pain of others. It becomes a natural reaction to want to end suffering for all people, 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 Seek A Therapy and share your positive stories with the readership of our articles. 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 and developing the right strategy. Please never give up, there are many people that work with mental health and not all will work well for you. Some will, 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 Seek A Therapy