One Woman's Journey - Living With Depression
It is challenging living with depression.
However, one thing that does help is speaking out about it.
That wasn’t always the way.
Initially, I didn’t speak about what was happening. Instead, I lived in my own little space not connecting with anyone and worked on growing my business.
When I say work, each day it became more challenging as what I wanted to do was curl up on the couch and sleep, which is no way to build a business. I felt depleted of energy and just wanted to hide.
Over the years I have been quite happy with my own company and doing things on my own, but this was different. I felt very alone, and I was not happy. There seemed to be no way out, and I imaged no one cared. As silly as that sounds now, that is how I felt in the moment.
When friends did call and ask how I was as a general conversation starter, it took some time to tell the truth. However, I finally decided that instead of saying I was okay, great or fine, I would say I was not having a great day. Then there would be silence followed by advice that I am sure came from a heartfelt place. The advice mostly included getting off the couch, taking a walk in the sunshine, in the beautiful gardens close by, or along the Yarra River, again in the sun. Go out, have a coffee, a wander in the city or have lunch in the gardens.
The fact was, there were days I could not get off the couch if my life depended on it.
Over and over in my mind, I would go through the scenario of standing up and then imagining myself with the sun on my face walking in the sunshine, like a movie playing in my mind. I would urge myself to do it, make a move. Often though, I would realise the sun was about to set and it was too late to walk out of my apartment. So, I would turn on the TV and snuggle back down on the couch convincing myself I would walk tomorrow.
Most likely the next day was like Ground Hog Day and another day on the couch.
My body and heart ached for things to change, but we all know that without taking some action, nothing is going to change.
I’m not sure what I expected others to do, but I knew I needed help to get through each day. I sought professional help and that became a slow turning point. The first thing was recognising I did have a problem and I did need help. The second was the desire to change.
Fast forward 18 months and my life has changed for the better after the long road of making changes – although much slower than I would have liked, but despite this I am working to make changes, however long it takes.
It took some time to realise that the people who were asking me how I was and then changing the subject did not know what to do next when I said I was not doing so well. They were not trained or didn't have the knowledge to deal with the situation I was experiencing. They were doing their best with the knowledge they had at the time.
One thing I learnt in this journey was to let go of people who did not add something very positive to my life, which was a tough call as often we had been friends for years. I learnt these people meant well but continued to be negative. Maybe it was me who had changed, and that's okay. The thing I did know was that these relationships were dragging me down and no longer made me happy.
What were the small steps I made?
Changing my routine was challenging, although once I realised the benefits of speaking face to face with someone, anyone each day, that became part of my daily routine. Often it was the barista at a nearby coffee shop who greeted me with a smile and a story that had me laughing. Then gradually that need of connection grew, and I found ways of seeking out contact and conversation more often.
A new routine began, and it was helpful. My challenge to myself was to meet someone new every day and encourage them to share their story with me. Everyone has a story, and some are fascinating. Often it was as simple as speaking to the person at the next table and starting up a conversation. Be warned; if you are sitting next to me in a coffee shop, I may start up a conversation!
Another change I made was what I shared on social media. A considerable part of my business has been sharing and marketing on social media and I was able to let go of the feeling of how I might be perceived and shared posts and photos of how life really was for me. The images became more casual and less corporate looking. It was as though a weight had been lifted off my shoulders. Please understand that everything I shared before this change was true; however, it was more than that - I wanted to be perceived as having everything together and perfect. That was the perfectionist in me! Now I have softened, I’m more open and am much more vulnerable knowing that it is going to connect with a different audience, and that is ok.
Something I have known for a long time is that what you put out there is what comes back to you. That is certainly proving to be true. The people who are now showing up in my life are incredible. By trusting and allowing people in, my life has changed considerably. There are more opportunities to share my story, more laughter, more love.
The last 18 months have certainly been challenging. I have learnt so much from what I’ve experienced and am happy to share my story, so others may also know where you are now does not have to be where you will be forever.
Believe things will change and you can make changes to your life for the better. Be willing to surrender and trust that the right people will come into your life while knowing you can make some changes for the better every day. Yes, it may take time, but it will be worth it.
Depression is not something that will change overnight and go away, in fact, I am by no means back to my full mental health, but I am very grateful for the guidance and connections I had while working through one of the most challenging stages of my life.
My closing thought is to be willing to ask for help and never to give up. It may take time, but never give up in believing things can and will change for the better.
Then make a conscious effort to do more of what you love every day, even if it is a complete change to how you lived your life in the past. Be prepared to do what is right for you and not what others expect of you.
We can all work through our problems if we choose and with the support, we need from the right people.
Margaret works with amazing women entrepreneurs, coaches and consultants who are ready to TAKE ACTION to transform their businesses. Margaret shares what she used to build her business as well as developing their clarity and confidence to take their business to the next level. Margaret will show you the “how”, she will hold your hand, keep you accountable and push you when you need it.
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