I’ve been there. You’re exhausted. You feel hopeless. You’ve tried everything and nothing seems to be helping. You’re in immense physical and emotional pain. You can’t imagine things ever getting better.
There were days I would just cry. I would sob and heave and pray frantically. It felt like I might explode out of my skin with fear and sorrow and pain.
But when you feel like this- hopeless, frustrated, exhausted- it isn’t the time to sit idly by.
It’s the time to pull out all the stops.
It’s a time to take care of yourself and be gentle with yourself.
It’s a time to lean on others like you never have before.
It’s a time to draw on your strength- the absolute depth of your ability to keep moving forward.
I think back to all those times now- now that I’m out of the woods- those times where I thought things would never, ever get better.
If I would have given up like I wanted to in high school when anxiety and depression first hit, I never would have experienced the absolute joys of college. I made new friends. I laughed until my stomach hurt. I traveled the world. I learned new things each and every day.
If I would have given up during panic disorder like I often wanted to, I never would have had the opportunity to teach at the studio I love now. I never would have started this blog, or instagram, or connected with you all. I never would have seen my relationships grow. I would have missed all the giggles, all the trips to beautiful places, all the love that surrounds me each and every day.
When we’re in the midst of struggle, it seems like things will never get better. But they ALWAYS, ALWAYS do. If there’s one thing I know for certain, it’s that everything always passes. You WILL be happy again. You WILL have amazing moments again. You WILL feel connected again. It might not happen overnight, but it will happen.
I’d love to share with you the things I did when I was at my absolute worst and had no more will to live. I really hope these suggestions help you in some way or another.
Remember: You are so loved. You are worthy of a great life. You are worthy of existing. This world needs you.
-Lean on the support of loved ones
During this time, I leaned on support like never before. When we’re stuck in depressed thinking, it makes it almost impossible for us to see things clearly. It’s important for us to have someone we can share our pain with, and to have them tell us that yes, things will get better. We can’t see it for ourselves right now, but our loved ones can.
I remember one particular day, I was sobbing uncontrollably after several panic attacks. My mom scooped me up and held me in her lap. As a 24 year old woman, I never thought I would need my mother to rock me back and forth in her recliner. She soothed me as my sobs lessened and then continued to hold me as I limply stared out in resignation for who knows how long. Without her, who knows what I would have done.
If you don’t have loved ones who understand what you’re going through, please seek out help from a professional with whom you can form a meaningful connection and feel comfortable with. If you don’t find a counselor you connect to, draw on your own inner loving parent to soothe you.
-Start and commit to a daily gratitude journal
My gratitude journal played a giant, giant part in drawing me out of my low points. Every single night without fail, I would write down ten things I was grateful for that day. Some days it was extremely hard to find things to write, but I did it anyway, no matter how small they were. Some days, I was just grateful for having water to drink, or getting out bed, or a blue sky.
I have several notebooks filled with page after page of these gratitude journals. There will be some nights when you feel too depressed to fill out your journal.
Do it anyway.
Every single night. Overtime, it will begin to help you shift your thinking to notice the little positives that come even in the midst of despair. There is always good to be found.
-Find ways to help others
My counselor at the time shared that one of the quickest ways to get out of a depression is to do something for others. In this way, we can shift our attention away from our own pain and instead, help and serve someone else.
So I started volunteering every week at the local animal shelter. Every Friday, I’d go socialize the kitties and cats, petting and feeding them. I love animals and they really bring out the best in me, so it felt wonderful to be able to help these sweet babes who truly needed my love.
If you don’t feel ready to venture out by yourself, have a friend or other safe person go with you.
Even if it’s as small as complimenting someone else, or doing a small favor, point your focus on others as often as you can remember.
-Let yourself cry
Don’t be ashamed or scared to cry. We cry for a reason. It releases stress chemicals from our body and often, after a good cry, there’s a stillness that washes over. After everything has come out, there’s a peace.
I was often scared to cry for fear of never coming out of it, of falling so far down into the hole that I’d never be able to get back out.
Cry. But then pick yourself back up. Cry. But then move on.
I can’t say this enough. Do at least one thing a day that makes you feel GOOD. Whether it be exercise or writing or watching your favorite show or taking a bath. Find something that you look forward to and do it every day.
When I was at my worst, I remember my boyfriend and I would cuddle up in bed in the evenings and watch Friends. I looked forward to it every day, even when I had spent the rest of the day in complete and utter despair.
I also loved practicing restorative yoga each afternoon at home. I looked forward to those moments of stillness.
Find what makes your soul happy to be alive. And then do that.
I know it’s hard, sweet friends. But this is our work. These are our lessons and we will grow from these experiences.
Hang in there. Love yourself. Know that you are worthy of a wonderful, beautiful life. You are truly miraculous.
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255