Rediscovering Ourselves when Depression Gobbles Us Up

When we have depression – particularly when we’ve had it for a long time – it can feel as though our illness completely gobbles us up.

Rediscovering Ourselves when Depression Gobbles Us UpDepression strips the joy out of all the activities we used to love, steals our ability to think clearly, and can make seeing our friends feel impossible. We might not be able to remember the films that we like, or which kind of music we prefer. We might struggle to leave the house and forget the places we used to visit with our families. We may no longer be able to taste our favourite foods properly and lose track of whether we prefer chocolate or cheese. Depression can zap our creativity and dry up our inspiration.

We might start grieving the person we used to be. We might miss ‘old us’ and yearn for a past version of ourselves.

It can reach the point when it feels like depression has stolen everything that makes us, ‘us’, and rather than seeing ourselves as a person with likes, dislikes, loves, talents and amazing qualities, we see ourselves as a ‘depressed person’.

We aren’t just ‘depressed people’, though. We are family members, friends, and part of society.  Under our depression, we have distinct and unique personalities – our illness doesn’t and shouldn’t define who we are.

Reconnecting with our true selves isn’t always easy. It can take a long time and a lot of hard work, especially as depression often robs us of the energy or motivation to take action.  But it is possible.

Talking therapies can be very helpful, but there are also things we can do ourselves to help rediscover who we are.  Here are a few ideas:

Make peace with your grief

It’s hard to make peace with our lives when we’re beating ourselves up for losing touch with the person we once were, or grieving the time we’ve lost to our depression.  It’s natural for us to be angry at our illness, and to cry and grieve the loss of  our old selves.  However if we want to move forwards it’s important to accept that depression has changed things, and change our focus from who we used to be, to who we want to be.

Dream

A great way to reignite our sense of self is to allow ourselves to dream. Always wanted to be an airline pilot? Google the steps involved in getting there. Always wanted a cat? Print a picture, stick it on your fridge, and figure out how you can make it happen. It doesn’t matter if your dreams feel impossible right now, it doesn’t matter how big or small your dreams are, or if they change as you’re chasing them, as the Disney corporation say: ‘If you can dream it you can do it’.

Create a ‘you’ book

Write, draw, stick things, paint, make a mess. Cut up magazines, save newspaper articles, print bits and bobs off the internet – begin to pull together an idea of what matters to you. Save anything that you can relate to, even if you’re not really sure why they jump out at you.  It could be a physical scrapbook, or perhaps a Pinterest board. Slowly you will begin to build up a picture of who you are.

BuddyBox

Look up local groups

Lot of places have local interest groups. In many areas there are craft groups, local history groups, Scouts and Guides, sports clubs and other social groups. Meetup.com can be a good place to find out about things going on in your area, you could also go down to the library, check the display boards in supermarkets, or find local groups on Facebook. Pop along to one or two and see if you enjoy what they have to offer. It can be scary at first, but you could always rope in a friend to go with you. If you go once and you don’t like it, there’s no pressure to go again, but you might find a new hobby or meet some new friends.

The important people will stick around

When we have spent a long time squishing ourselves into the person we think that other people want us to be, it can feel scary to change. But living for other people will never make us truly happy. And we find that – despite our fears – those who really matter stick around, no matter what changes we make.

Ditch Perfection

Nobody is perfect. You’re unlikely to crochet a perfect blanket the first time you ever pick up a crochet hook, or drive the perfect lap the first time you ever get in a racing car. When we have depression there is a niggling voice in our head, constantly filling us with self-doubt and telling us we’re not good enough. We need to tell that voice to hush.  We’re not perfect, and that’s perfectly OK:  if we enjoy something, the results really don’t matter.  Focus on the journey, not the destination.

Be Patient

Finally, be patient with yourself. Depression knocks the wind out of us at the best of times. Don’t expect yourself to immediately step into a whole new life with enormous zeal, when you’re struggle to find the energy to get dressed. Rome wasn’t built in a day. Take things slowly and be kind to yourself.

Sharing is caring: please share this post to help others, you never know who might need it. 

  • I have found in my work in behavioral health that pet friendly or service animal facilities, whether they are Inpatient or outpatient, tend to produce expedited healing and recovery. I have also experienced this in my own personal life and can share that having a pet really makes a difference.

    I have been dedicated to helping adults and teens with treatment resources that are pet friendly, see here: https://thetreatmentspecialist.com/pet-friendly-luxury-rehab/

  • Pingback: When Depression Makes Us Feel Like The 'Black Sheep' - The Blurt Foundation()

  • Pingback: Depression: Why It's Sometimes Hard To Trust Happiness - The Blurt Foundation()

  • Pingback: Depression: Straightening Out Those Wonky Boundaries - The Blurt Foundation: Dedicated to helping those affected by depression()

  • Louise Burt

    God, those first 3 paragraphs really make me well up. This is a fabulous article. Thank you so much. It’s precisely where I’m at, after 10yrs.

    • The Blurt Foundation

      You are so welcome Louise (sorry for the late reply!)

    • The Blurt Foundation

      You are very welcome lovely Louise. Sending gentle supportive hugs.

  • Kimberley Roberts

    Fantastic article which sums up exactly how you feel. I’m learning to live with the new me after nearly 10 years and I think I’m finally getting there.

    • The Blurt Foundation

      Thank you for your kind words Kimberley. We are so pleased you are doing so well. (sorry for the late reply!)

    • The Blurt Foundation

      We know you posted this a while ago Kimberley – we hope you are still doing well with this.

  • Anna Liversidge

    I can really relate to this article, that sadness, the loss of who you are. When I was in the deepest part of my depression I couldn’t do anything. But each day I would sit a little at the computer and pin away on pinterest. Several months later my husband looked at my pinterest boards and was amazed at how much I had collected on there. Perfection is impossible but a cruel voice in our heads. I discovered the art of plodding, doing the tiniest thing really helps. I learnt this via the Emotional Rescue Podcast on here.

    • The Blurt Foundation

      That’s great to hear Anna. Sending hugs of support.

    • The Blurt Foundation

      ??