When I was diagnosed with depression at age 21, I recall a tightness in my chest, and as my doctor spoke, the words bounced around the room before hitting my ears. I wasn’t sure if I was in shock, but I knew there was a rage that bubbled inside of me.
You have depression! The words continued to echo in my head for days and weeks and were taunting me. What was I supposed to do with that? Well, I did what I knew a man was supposed to do; I denied it, then I tried to party it out of my system, and when that didn’t work I turned to sex and when that failed, and my depression still hung on to me, I became angry and remained angry for a long time.
Why was this happening to me? I towered over most at six-foot-three, I held on to the notion that I was an alpha male, a jock, almost invincible, and nothing could touch me. I felt my diagnosis crippled me emotionally and solidified my brokenness. It made me feel weak, and like many, I had no idea what I was supposed to do.
“You are not your diagnosis. It is part of you, but does not define you.” – unknown
After years of ups and downs and in-betweens, I learned so much about my depression and myself. I learned that my depression is a small part of who I am. I learned if I can help one person through the struggle, then my purpose is fulfilled.
When diagnosed, the first thing I believe we need to do is to arrive at a place of acceptance; it’s a difficult task, but necessary. Without acceptance moving forward is close to impossible.
I am going to be transparent and tell you the things that helped and continue to help me as I cope with my depression
- Ask your health care provider a critical question, ‘what can I do to cope with my diagnosis?”
- educate yourself about your diagnosis, read books, do research, know what your diagnosis means to you
- Active Therapy, Be present in your sessions, put in the necessary work
- Be open, and honest, and real to yourself and those around you
- believe in something bigger than you, for me; it’s my faith in God
- Exercise or find a hobby
- knowing your triggers and move through them versus avoiding them.
Once we have been diagnosed, opening ourselves to those closest to us is imperative, we need to recognize that we cannot get through this on our own. For those we hold near and dear, these are ways they can help.
- LISTEN: Be quiet but don’t walk away
- SUPPORT: Attend therapy sessions as moral support
- ENCOURAGE: Get us to do the things we used to enjoy
- ADMIT: you don’t know what to do or say to us
- UNDERSTAND: Thar silence is ok (honestly it is)
- EDUCATE: learn about our diagnosis with us
The biggest takeaway I want for you is to understand two things. First, know that you are not your diagnosis, and it does not define you. Second, you are not alone in the battle. There’s a network of people ready and willing to help you navigate through the good, the bad and the ugly of it all. HOAM is here to help, feel free to contact us firstname.lastname@example.org
“We don’t’ have to do all of it alone; we were never meant to” – unknown