Living with depression is the absolute pits. No sugarcoating. This stuff will try to kill you every day. I can tell you some BS about how “you must decide that it won’t kill you” etc. I won’t. Why? Because it’s BS.

Many challenges neurotypical people face are external. But in the case of mental illness, it is your brain trying to kill you. Instead, I will tell you what I do.

Note: I am not medical personnel. I am just someone living with depression. Got diagnosed officially 5 years ago, but I had been living with it for at least 6 years prior to that.

Signs it’s getting bad again:

  • Nothing interests me: When I no longer want to do anything, that’s a problem. Now I have hobbies. Movies, word games, baking, bead making, nail care etc. I also have jobs…this is one of them; writing. Once it gets to that point where everything is a chore, yup, it’s getting bad again.
  • Insomnia: When my mind can’t rest and I can’t sleep for any meaningful length of time that’s a problem
  • Low mood: Can’t get excited for anything.
  • Low self-worth and Isolation: Some of the recurring thoughts during depression are that you are alone and everyone is sick of you. At the moment of writing this article, I know I am loved and I know my friends would probably riot for me. But when that depression hits, I think they don’t like me anymore or that I am a burden to them. This cycle of thoughts inevitably lead to this next feature
  • Suicidal ideation: I have been told that wishing to not exist is just another version of being suicidal that I have made palatable to myself with different phrasing. I think about it a lot ngl. Even on my best days.

Other signs you may experience:

  • Hypersomnia: If you are suddenly sleeping way too much, it could be a sign of depression.
  • Hopelessness about the future.

What I do:

  • Feel the love: I speak to my friends. They are the lights of my life and they always make me feel a lot better. We talk about nothing and everything. I think the reason I have a good time talking to my friends when I feel like shit is that they don’t make me feel like they have to “make me happy”. Most of the people I end up not being able to speak to, worry too much. I also talk to my nephews and niece. They are so beautiful and funny too.

Something else to note about this is that it is not going to be easy. Drop a message for your friend before you lose your nerve. A simple “I am struggling today and would like to talk to a friend” should be enough to get your friend to reach out as soon as they are available.

Note to friends of people who go through this, don’t worry too obviously. When I hear the panic in your voice, I erroneously think I am a source of trouble for you, and reinforce the belief that you are better off without me.

  • Retail Therapy: Spending money helps. Buying cute things works. This works both if I am the owner or it’s a gift for someone else.
  • Sleep medication: Again, I am not a doctor, but regulating my sleep often helps me get a sense of balance. Without medication, I try to sleep for at least 7hrs a night. And I don’t go without sleep for more than 2 consecutive nights.
  • Being active: I am not really a gym person, but I like to take walks. Sometimes, these walks are exactly what I need. When I’m in places that have hills, I climb those hills and seeing those beautiful views often help me put things in my own life in a better perspective.  It’s very hypocritical of me to recommend the gym to you, but evidence suggests that regular physical activity helps. I don’t make the rules.
  • Don’t eat your feelings: I know that the urge is to eat a huge red velvet cake and pig out on a giant tub of ice cream on your bed with the lights off. What I do instead is eat a lot of something that’s healthy and yummy still. Mangoes, bananas, pineapples, raisins, cashew nuts etc have helped me out during some dark times.

 Conclusion: I went several years just struggling and suffering in silence and I want you to know that you are not alone. There are a lot of psychosocial reasons to be depressed. Even socioeconomic reasons too. They are valid. You are valid. But you can not let the depression win. You must fight it like it is after your life, because it is. I lost years of my life to this shit and if I can help even one person with managing it, my life is not a waste.

The best thing I can tell you to do is to get diagnosed. When you do, you will get a prescription too. If you can’t afford a private hospital, go to a government hospital and get your meds from there too.

If you need to talk to someone, visit mentally aware Nigeria.

You can DM me too @daminiyan on twitter. My turnaround time may be really long plus I am not a professional. But I can definitely lend a listening ear.

Stay jiggy and don’t let the ment win.

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