Depression is very complicated and it affects everyone a little differently. There is not a lot of generalized advice I would feel comfortable giving with confidence. However… there are a few things that come to mind.
- It’s never too soon to ask for help.
- You are not stuck with the first doctor or therapist you see.
- Do not lie.
- Find a passion.
- Do not give up.
1. There is a stigma about depression that seems to make people feel guilty just for having it. Like they don’t deserve help, even if they need it. Many people resist seeking help with epic levels of stubbornness. The thing is, depression can take a while to get its claws completely into your brain. If you seek help as soon as you realize what’s happening, you may be able to treat the depression before your brain gets used to the chemical imbalance. Going to a professional and getting checked out will do you no harm. But delaying this option could make treatment much harder. The sooner the better.
Specifically for teens in this situation…
Sometimes getting help requires parental involvement. If you are lucky, you will have supportive, understanding parents and this will not be a huge problem. Unfortunately that will not always be the case. If you are worried about telling your parents, I would suggest finding another adult that you trust and can confide in. Perhaps a teacher, a counselor, an aunt or uncle. Someone that your parents will respect and listen to. Explain the situation and ask if they wouldn’t mind confronting your parents together. Strength in numbers can be very effective.
2. I have come across quite a few people that think the first person they see is the only one that can ever treat them. Having good patient/doctor and patient/therapist chemistry is vital to getting effective treatment for depression. You may have to explore some very dark emotional pain with this person, and if you do not like or trust them, it will be very hard to open up. If you have any reservations about your doctor or therapist, don’t be afraid to try another one.
3. Under no circumstances should you lie to your doctor or therapist. You are not the first person to think, “If I tell them this, they might think I’m a terrible person.” These people are trained not to judge you or your actions. They are trained to use that information to help you. To guide you. To treat you. If you tell them lies to make yourself look better, you risk not getting well again.
4. Depression has a way of holding you back from doing anything productive. There will be things you want to do, things you should be doing, but it destroys your motivation. Passion is often immune to this effect. Finding something you are passionate about can help you get out of this rut and even help motivate you in other areas. Some people are lucky and already know their passion. Whether it is art, music, writing, movies, knitting… whatever. But sometimes people don’t know what their passion is. Especially if you are younger. If that is the case, I strongly urge you to experiment and find your passion. You don’t even have to be good at it. It just needs to be something you can sink yourself into without a great deal of motivation. For me, my passion is making people happy. I almost feel like I need to do it. And when my depression is trying to slow me down, my passion is usually so powerful that it gives that chemical imbalance the middle finger and I go on about my business. Seek out your passion and it may be just the thing to get you through the days.
5. There was a point in my life in which I felt I had hit bottom. I thought there was no way life could get any better. I felt like if I continued living, life was always going to be as terrible as it was in that moment. When we are young we lack the wisdom and experience to know just how untrue this is. And I think because we don’t know that, far too many of us give up. Life is not a constant downward trajectory. Life is full of ups and downs. All pain fades with time and things will get better. That does not mean you will not find a new pain and go to that low place again. And it does not mean once the pain fades you will live a life full of constant bliss. Life will be filled with bits of joy and bits of pain and everything in between. But the bits of joy are much more profound. They are worth waiting for. And the experience of pain can often make you appreciate the joy even more. If you give up, you will not get to feel just how wonderful those bits of joy are.
Now that I am older I look back at that moment when I nearly gave up and I think about how much I would have regretted it. I think about all the amazing things that I would have missed. I think about all the lives that I have touched since then and how important it was that I stick around. Not giving up can be much easier said than done. And working through the pain can be long and arduous. But your next bit of joy will come. And it will be fantastic. And when the next bit of pain comes, you will be able to handle it even better than before.
Life can be tremendously difficult, but as you get older you will get better at living it. If you give it a chance, you will not regret seeing where it takes you.
6. Try getting a corgi if possible.