I knew something was wrong with me. I was too uncomfortable with myself to even enjoy just one night alone. I worried something might happen that I couldn’t handle. So I spent a lot of time losing myself in T.V., food or dating bad men. I was afraid to be quiet with my own thoughts, and had about zero ability to comfort myself.
The healthiest thought I had was knowing that I needed help. Tired of feeling deeply alone, I found a psychologist who fired a gazillion questions at me in hour one on the first session.
He didn’t accept patients unless he knew he could help them. He was blunt and kind of a smart ass. I didn’t know it at the time, but it was my day one of digging my way out of the crushing hole that is depression.
I answered a gazillion more written questions in a standardized psychological assessment about my tumultuous childhood and about me. Around session three, he described me back to me: chronic depression, fear of abandonment, angry but afraid to show it, and lack of boundaries in relationships (people pleaser).
With talk therapy one hour a week for several years, my depression became a thing of the past. My solution wasn’t a quick fix, but it has been lasting.
Call me a student of depression. I’d drive home from those sessions, type up things he said while still fresh in my mind, and place my notes in a three-ring binder. I slowly got healthier, and life got better. I hope what I learned can help you too.
Here are five lasting changes in how you think and behave that will help you heal from depression:
1. Set boundaries in relationships, even if it angers someone.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not encouraging you to be difficult or verbally spar with your significant other. I am encouraging the genuine expression of your emotions. Stop people pleasing to keep the peace. Say goodbye to letting people take advantage of you.
Set limits. Say no when you want to say no. Stand up for yourself. Think of your relationships like a ping pong match: you only have to play your side. You can’t control how other people react. Be authentic to your emotions. Depressed people bury anger. Healthy people express it in healthy ways.