I almost don’t even want to write this post. I know inevitably someone is going to send me an email or a comment saying they could never do these things or my depression must not have been that bad.
I guess that’s what you have to expect when you’re sharing about mental health on the internet.
However, I also get questions from people all the time about how I overcame depression. These are the things I did. It was not easy and it took a long time but these things made a huge difference. Before I started to try to manage my depression I just let myself get worse and worse. I told myself that therapy would never help me and that it was impossible to exercise when I was depressed. I kept telling myself that narrative and spent years suffering and letting my depression get worse and worse. Eventually I couldn’t brush my teeth or put my shoes on.
I don’t like saying I overcame depression, I like to say that I learned to manage depression. The truth is, the things I’m going to share with you helped me get better and I still have to do them to this day. If I stop with my self-care practices I can become clinically depressed again very quickly.
I know because there have been lots of times where I quit taking my medication, stopped eating healthy or gave up working out. Every time my mental health rapidly deteriorated. Here are the steps I took to overcome depression. I hope it inspires you to try something new and push yourself to do something positive for yourself.
Talked to a Doctor
I know that everyone’s experience with medication is different and many people have side effects or bad experiences with anti-depressants.
This wasn’t my experience though and I want to share what happened to me in case it can help someone else. The truth is, I wish I had gone on antidepressants WAY sooner than I did.
Before I talked to a Doctor my mental health had hit an all-time low. My level of functioning had plummeted and I couldn’t brush my teeth or put my shoes on. I originally went to the Doctor because I was tired. I didn’t understand that my symptoms were actually a bad case of clinical depression. My Doctor ran a bunch of tests and I had a really bad vitamin D deficiency and she helped me find a good therapist and prescribed my anti-depressants.
If you’re struggling with depression I really suggest that you find a good Doctor to talk to. I know that medication is not the answer for everyone but there are cases where it can help. I spent years of my life suffering instead of getting the help that I needed. I don’t want you to suffer as I did so I hope this will encourage you to talk to a Doctor. If you want to hear more about my journey with medication check out my post below.
Got a Really Good Therapist
The truth is that recovering from depression was a ton of work. I spent years using unhealthy coping mechanisms to deal with my depression and spent years making poor decisions and maintaining unhealthy relationships, terrible friendships.
I had to do a ton of inner work to unlearn all of the bad habits I had picked up over the years and I can’t imagine being able to get to where I am without my therapists. They helped me get to the root of what was going on and were able to help me focus on what I needed to work on.
After over ten years of having untreated clinical depression, my inner dialogue was terrible. They helped me challenge my thoughts and beliefs and create a new empowered mindset. The process was truly transformational for me and I gained so much out of it.
I had to try a few different therapists before I found the person I wanted to work with initially. You might have to go to a few sessions or try a few different people before you find the right therapist for you. The other thing to keep in mind is that therapy can take time to really see results. I have friends that went to therapy once and said it didn’t work for them. I don’t think you can actually tell if it works until you go and do the work consistently for a good chunk of time. If you want some tips about going to therapy check out my article about going to the therapist for the first time. I now use and recommend BetterHelp if you’re interested in talking to a therapist over video chat instead of in-person this could be a good option for you. I like having the option to talk to a therapist via email, phone call or video chat.
Got a Fitness Routine
I understand that it’s annoying to hear people tell you to work out when you’re depressed. However, the reason that people keep telling you that is because it freaking works. Some studies have shown that exercise is just as effective as medication for treating depression. I’m not downplaying how hard it is to exercise when you’re depressed. Trust me, I understand how difficult it is.
I started small and added in ten minute daily workouts. Once I was able to do that I did one in the morning and one at night. After doing that consistently I was able to start going to the gym and complete a full thirty-minute workout. I built my way up from there. You don’t have to start out with a full-blown workout, just start by doing SOMETHING.
Walk around the block. Stretch. Do something.
After you do something celebrate yourself and acknowledge that you did something good for yourself. It’s important that you give yourself credit and celebrate any success you have during your recovery.
Exercise is still a huge component of managing my depression. I do some type of exercise seven days a week and when I stop doing it I notice a huge difference in the way that I feel. I currently use and love these home workouts. Honestly, I’m bad at working out and I really need someone to tell me exactly what to do. I like these workouts because I just push play and they tell me exactly what to do to get a great workout.
Changed My Diet
Before I was able to start exercising I was able to clean up my diet. I used to eat a ton of junk food and fast food when I was depressed. These foods actually made my depression worse and after a week of consistently eating healthy foods, I started to notice a difference in the way that I felt. It can feel overwhelming to eat healthy when you’re used to eating junk food all the time.
Start small and cut out one unhealthy thing from your diet and add in something good for you. Challenge yourself to drink a lot of water. Start eating a salad once a day. I’ve really been eating poorly lately and I’ve noticed a big difference in the way I feel. Right now I’m doing a cleanse to get my healthy habits back in place and detox my body. If you feel like you need to do something dramatic to change your diet something like that could work for you.
Changed My Core Beliefs
My core beliefs used to make my life really difficult. I was constantly telling myself things like “bad things always happen to me” and “life is hard and unfair”.
Telling myself negative messaging about life all the time programmed my brain to point out any situations or examples it could find of those messages being true. I was constantly focused on the negative and all the bad things that happened. Choosing to make an effort to change my core beliefs and find the good in life was pivotal in my recovery.
My core beliefs now look radically different and include things like “everything is always working out for my good and in my favor” and “I am the luckiest girl in the whole world”. It’s taken a ton of work to reprogram my thoughts and limiting beliefs but it’s been really empowering for me to get to realize that I get to CHOOSE how I see the world and what is true for me.
For years I played the victim and was always acting as if I was powerless. The truth was that I was CHOOSING to focus on the negative and not look at the blessings in my life. Now I actively practice gratitude and challenge negative thoughts when they pop up. I have a training about this in the Membership site if you’re interested in learning more.
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I am not a licensed therapist or mental health professional. If you are suffering from a major disorder and need treatment please seek the help of a professional. If you need help finding a mental health care provider call 1-800-662-HELP (4357) or visit BetterHelp to talk to a certified therapist online at an affordable price. This post contains affiliate links, you can read my full disclosure policy here.
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