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I spent so many nights of my life sobbing in the corner of my room, desperately reaching out for any miracle I could get. In my despair, I clung to a hope of finally finding the key to freedom from depression.
I tried to find a medicine capable of instantly curing my depression. I scoured the internet for new therapies or books containing the key to rapid recovery. I prayed for an immediate release through divine intervention.
Three years later, I was still depressed. I was tempted to lose hope of ever recovering and stop bothering to try. Thankfully, I had a support network who helped me change my perspective.
Through the wisdom of my family, friends, and therapists, I learned recovery from depression is very rarely an instant, sensational miracle.
Taking medicine does not cure depression overnight, and neither does cognitive behavioral therapy or, in many cases, divine intervention. Instead, recovery comes through a series of small victories.
As I began to focus on small victories, I learned to stop seeing recovery from depression categorically and start seeing it as a continuum. There was never a particular day in my journey where I woke up and was officially recovered. Instead, I drew closer to mental health with each small victory.
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Medicine, therapy, and prayer did not instantly cure me of depression.
They did, however, contribute to small victories slowly but steadily increasing my mental health.
Whether you are someone struggling with mental illness or supporting someone who is, focusing on small victories is key to keeping hope during the process. One of the most important steps in changing your mindset is recognizing the essentiality of outside perspectives.
Depression changes our perspectives, often draining the hope out of our perception of every situation. Consequently, it can be very difficult for someone with depression to recognize and celebrate small progress.
Those who love them, however, can tune into progress and consistently point out areas of improvement. In doing so, they can provide both hope and encouragement while helping the person with depression to begin to look for and recognize their own small victories.
Another important step is learning to record-keep.
Having a written record of progress to remind the person with depression of how far they have come when hopelessness threatens to settle in is a key part of the process.
This step can be personalized; some people choose to track their symptoms and mood on a Likert scale, others choose to write a more detailed daily journal. The important thing is to figure out what works for you and what best helps you celebrate small victories in recovery.
At the beginning of a person’s mental health journey, their loved ones may need to keep the journal. As the person with depression becomes stronger, however, it is critical to begin transferring the habit to them!
Finally, it is important to never underestimate the importance of changing the way we talk about depression recovery.
We need to work towards a society and mental health system that conceptualizes mental health as a continuum instead of a dichotomy of “mentally ill” and “recovered”.
We need to realize the importance of mental hygiene for everyone and we need to stop believing in a magic cure. Most importantly, we need to begin to talk about how far people have come instead of talking about whether or not they are “recovered”.
What do you think? Has your perspective changed as you have journeyed through recovery? As someone who has dealt with depression, what do you think your support network could do to best help you focus on small victories?
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