One of the harder things to fight back against in depression is the overwhelming apathy, the feeling that nothing matters. It’s a hard feeling to fight back against, because when you don’t particularly care about anything, it’s hard to muster the enthusiasm or the motivation to do so anyway.
Sometimes, these feelings overstay their welcome and linger for weeks or months. At other times, they do go away as soon as you rediscover that spark. But it’s not a journey you should wait on – and definitely not one you should embark on alone. Whether you’re going to be trying out new things, revisiting old hobbies, or experiencing something entirely different, be sure that if you’re trying to learn to care about life again, first approach a professional for help in treating depression, and approach your loved ones for the support that many of us need when we face great challenges in life.
You’re Already Starting
Nothing happens overnight, and the process to treating depression is as gradual as it gets. Acknowledging that you want to feel better is already a step in the right direction – as is looking for answers and wanting help. It’s hard to recognize depression until it jumps in our face, and even then, it’s often too scary to name. Sometimes, it’s not until things get so bad that we have no choice but to go to someone that we fully commit to the fact that we’re depressed.
No one wants to be depressed, but sadly, it’s not something we get to choose. But we do get to choose what we do next – and if your next step is wanting to fight depression, then you’re on the right track to feeling better.
It’s possible that you’ve heard this ad nauseum, but it’s still true – getting help can be a necessary step in learning to care about life again. But that doesn’t necessarily mean getting a therapist or psychiatrist. You should be seeking professional attention, if you aren’t. But even if you are, there’s more to getting help than going to a medical professional.
You need to talk to your loved ones about what you’re going through, talk to them about your feelings and issues, and help them better understand what your diagnosis means, and how you’re going to be treating it, as well as what they can expect over time as treatment goes on. Patience, compassion, and unconditional love – they’re all going to have to play a part in learning to love life again.
Depression feeds on loneliness. You need people around you who aren’t just professionally obligated to help, but people who genuinely want you get better, and can do their part to help out in a small way.
What Matters to You?
Narrow things down to what matters to you the most. Ensuring your loved ones have a great future, maybe? Leaving behind a respectable legacy? Feeling like making a difference? Being someone those you care about remember fondly?
When it comes down to the wire, there’s something we all care about the most, and it’s that something that you have to hold onto the most. When everything feels bleak and grey, use that which lights a fire under you the most to bring back color to your world.
This can be very hard, and it’s easier some days than on others. Consider talking to a professional about what you want in life, and what you think about the most.
Set Small and Large Goals
Goal-setting is more important than most people realize. While having some form of structure or routine can help a lot of people struggling to put their lives together, falling into the monotony of the day-to-day can contribute to the development of depression. If you don’t have anything to strive for, you’ll quickly find yourself asking what you’re here for.
Goals change that. They allow us to look ahead. But setting goals that are too ambitious or too far-reaching will still leave us generally aimless. It’s good to have a long-term goal, but you need smaller, more concrete goals to allow yourself to work up to that big achievement. And, most importantly, you have to find ways to appreciate or celebrate each step along the way in a small, but meaningful manner.
Start by setting a goal you want to achieve in a year, then set a goal you can achieve in a month working towards the first goal. You can set more than one goal. Be sure to write these down and keep them in sight, somewhere where you’re reminded of what you’ve set out to do.
Refrain from deadlines but keep timelines in mind. It’s okay to not manage your small goal in a month, and it’s okay to take longer than a year on your big goal. You need to be flexible and accept that complications can get in the way of your hopes and dreams. The more you work for what you really want, the more you’ll have something at stake in life. That doesn’t mean that having a dream will fix your depression, but all of these tips are meant to be complementary to treatment, not replace it.
It’s a Disorder
People seem to forget that depression is a medical disorder. This isn’t your choice, it isn’t a lifestyle, and it’s not something solved through sheer determination alone. You’re going to have bad days, slow days, sad days, and chances are you’ve had a lot of those already.
Whether or not those will ever go away completely is impossible to say, but we can tell you that they become much less frequent with consistent treatment and support from others around you. We recognize that as an illness, depression can often throw a wrench a plan and leave you dejected or feeling low. Understand that it’s okay to miss some goals or postpone your plans or ask for help. That last part being the most crucial.
It’s okay to need help. It’s okay to need medication and take a day off here or there. It’s okay to struggle with your goals, and reconsider what you want to do. It’s okay to seek depression treatment – and it’s okay to be depressed.
It’s not okay to give up and decide you can’t do anything about this anymore. There’s always another day to try again, another time to pick up your goal, and another therapy or treatment to consider. And while it might not feel that way at times, you’ll come to realize over months and years that the longer you fight depression, the easier it gets. The longer you fight depression, the less frequently it throws a wrench into your plans. And the longer you fight depression, the more you care about life again.