In my first article, I wrote about the art of being happy, but there are people who have fallen through the cracks and might not be in the right place where happiness seems in reach. This one's for them.
I was fortunate enough to be blessed with two loving and supportive parents, two amazing big sisters, and eight beautiful nieces and nephews. All of them played a big role in my recovery from depression a few years ago.
My parents made sure I got the professional help I needed, they made sure I knew how much they loved me, and they comforted me through every bad day.
My sisters were always making themselves available to talk to me and they let me know they were there for me for everything and anything. But my nieces and nephews were big in my survival in that they gave me a reason to stay. They showed me how precious life is, even if I'm older and it's harder. There are still so many reasons to smile and keep going; and my nieces, specifically my niece, Faith, who's life I've been a part of since she was born, showed me that they're not hard to find. They taught me to look at the small things and they will become the big things.
I know, however, not everybody is as lucky as I am to have such a beautiful and accepting and loving family, but to those people, those who share your blood do not have to be your family. The teacher that you opened up to or the guidance counselor that you shared your feelings with or your best friend are all your family in this time.
Of course, my dog is a part of my family, but he get's his own section. My 8-year-old cockapoo has been such a blessing. Some people will never understand how there are people who love their pets more than actual humans, but if you knew Danny Boy, you'd understand. My dog came into my room every night that I cried myself to sleep, and licked away my tears. He let me weep on him, he let me squeeze him, he gave me unconditional love and support without having to say a word. My dog is so much more than just my dog. He is my best friend and I couldn't love anything more than I love Danny Boy. In my time of my depression, I had basically no friends, but my dog was always by my side (except for when he saw a squirrel or smelled food).
Learning to self-love.
The biggest hurdle to jump over before overcoming depression is learning to love yourself. I found a trick that really helped me: I took my favorite baby picture of myself and put it on my mirror. Next to it, I wrote don't call her ugly. So, everyday, when I'd get up in the morning and look at myself in the mirror, I'd also be looking at little baby me and try to think positive things about myself because I knew that that baby was not ugly. That is a beautiful baby who grew up to be a beautiful woman. That's not narcissistic, that's self-love and everyone deserves to love themselves.
I guess this is a complicated one because of the extreme diversity in this country and the beautiful freedom of religion. However, God and Jesus Christ helped me through my depression, because the bible constantly reminded me of the beauty in the world and the hope that the future has to offer. The word of God can bring such joy, I hope it is okay with you that I share some scriptures that I found to bring hope and helped carry me through some very dark moments.
The LORD Himself goes before you and will be with you; He will never leave you or forsake you. Do not be afraid, do not be discouraged.
The righteous cry out, and the LORD hears them; He delivers them from all their troubles.
Cast all your anxieties on Him because He cares for you.
The last one my mom used to tell me all the time and I would just huff or sigh in annoyance and then I would secretly go back into my room and pray and it would work. I hope you find it to be helpful as well.
A big part of my identity is my love for acting and writing music. All of these, especially acting, played a big role in my recovery. I went through a massive roller coaster of emotions in and out of my depression and to deal with/channel these emotions, I submerged myself in my craft (acting) and in order to even identify what I was feeling and what I was going through, I wrote music. I used these tools to deal with my "bad" emotions and to bring back my "good" emotions.
I know everyone has something that brings them joy in some way. My advice is that you hold onto these things and that you find something that will help you through your recovery as well as your worse days--running, writing, painting, drawing, etc. anything that would help you because you will need it.
My guardian angel.
My best friend killed himself almost 4 years ago around the time when my depression was at its worst. I saw that this was a serious problem in my community. I saw the effects it had on everyone in my school and his parents whom I was very close with. I knew I could never do that to my parents, my siblings, my nieces and nephews. I knew I had to accept the help that was always being extended to me. Through my path to recovery and to happiness, my friend in heaven was watching over me, guiding me through my way back to living healthy and happy. I think even though he didn't think it was possible for himself, he wanted me to achieve this, just as everyone deserves.
Last but not least, I had to help myself. I had to accept the help from my family, I had to accept that I was depressed, and I had to accept that I had to change it. The first step to any recovery is admitting that you have a problem. The solution, however, is different for everyone, but the journey will always be long and hard. It's not impossible. I've had setbacks and relapses, I've hit rock bottom multiple times, but every time I chose to get back up. I chose to keep going. I chose to live. I found the small things that made me happy and I clung to them. For everyone out there struggling, I pray you found some hope in this article. I hope you find something in this to help you keep going, to fight for your right to be happy and healthy. You deserve it.
Choose life. Keep fighting. Stay strong.