It starts with recognition of the fact that depression tells us lies.

How do I know this? Because I’ve lived through it. In 2008 my brother killed himself. In 2011 I attempted suicide myself. Then, in early 2013 I committed myself to the local mental health unit as my wife looked on with tears in her eyes.

Depression Can Creep Up on You

Looking back, depression grew over time for me. It was like a gradual process of increasing self-doubt, worry and gradual despair. It was like no matter how hard I tried, things just wouldn’t work out for me. Sure, a lot of it had to do with my lack of self-awareness as well, but when you’re in the middle of depression, that can be really hard to recognize.

Obviously this is different for everyone, since no two of us are the same. However, if you’re noticing a pattern of repeated negative self-talk, worry and despair in your day-to-day life, then that could potentially be depression creeping up on you as it can. Another important thing to remember is that depression isn’t always some big heavy, chronic “thing” – acute (short term) depression can come on quite quickly and be incredibly intense. As far as I’m concerned, acute depression can be just as serious and potentially deadly as chronic, long-term depression can. After all, it only takes a moment to commit suicide.

Some Warning Signs of Depression

Signs of depression can include irritability, a lack of energy, a loss of interest in doing most things and an increased desire to sleep as much as possible, not to mention a lack of appetite or behaviors such as self-medicating with alcohol or drugs (and other addictions) to try and escape the feeling of being depressed. Isolating one’s self from others is also up symptom of depression. Finally, a pessimistic attitude that is incredibly lethargic, defeated sounding and cynical can also be related to feeling depressed and hopeless.

Whenever someone asks me my thoughts and advice on what they should do when they’re feeling depressed, I usually start by telling them that they need to know it’s okay to ask for help. I feel it’s important to make that clear from the start to reduce the sense of hopelessness that someone might be feeling inside. That way, no matter what they go on to try, they know that they have a safety net of sorts – like a safety net a circus performer might have under them (metaphorically speaking).

The voice inside our heads can be very negative but also sound incredibly real. Learning about things like positive self-talk and learning to build my self esteem and confidence took time, but these tools were some of the most important lessons on my road to recovery after my brother’s suicide and my own attempt.

Asking for Help is Something to Be Proud Of 

If you find you’re being hard on yourself day in and day out, perhaps it’s time to take a hold of your mind by recognizing the thoughts you’re having and deciding to consciously choose to empower yourself by recognizing your thought patterns and learning ways to change them. Learning what growth mindset means and other terms such as positive self-talk and self-compassion were incredibly important lessons for me. I knew deep down that I wanted better for my life, but I needed help in figuring out how to go about changing how I look at things and how I think about life, baby step by baby step. I learned that it was okay be patient with myself and that if I was going to be successful that was the only way to do it – patience was an absolute must, since nothing is achieved overnight. Nothing worthwhile, anyway.

It’s amazing what you can achieve when you refuse to give up on yourself, no matter what. The darkest moments taught me the most, I now realize.

Yours in purpose,

Jeff