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A Little Bit about Depression, from My Personal Experience

depression

Initially, I wanted to write a review of Dear Stranger: Letters on the Subject of Happiness, but after reading Bebe and Christa‘s posts about mental health (depression in particular), I decided to write a bit about mental health in the hope to raise awareness, especially here in Indonesia (the review about the book will be in the next post, I promise!).

Just a disclosure, I’m talking based on my personal experience, so it might not be the same for others. But I hope my experience can shed some light for better insights and understanding about mental health.


It all started when I came back to Indonesia, early in 2015. What started as unhappiness quickly spiraled downward, and I suddenly found myself in this situation where I felt despair. I don’t want to go into details as to why I plunged into depression, but I’m gonna write what I’ve experienced, and how I’m trying to get out of it.

How does it feel?

I don’t know how to explain this exactly. For me, it feels like being stuck in a dark hole, and I don’t see how I can get out of this, or how things will get better. Some days I feel extreme sadness, coupled with despair and hopelessness that things will stay like this, and there’s no way out. I’ve lost all sense of purpose, and I’ve also lost interest in things I used to love. I used to have many interests; photography, traveling, reading, writing, dancing, design, etc. I love creating things and getting new experiences. But in the worst days, I can’t be bothered to do anything, let alone creating and going out. These days, I’m trying hard to stay afloat, to not drown. I don’t even expect a ‘good’ day, just an ‘okay’ day is enough for me. But even an okay day requires a lot of effort, and it exhausts me.

How does it affect me?

Physically, I have been aware of the effects on my body since early on. I started to lose weight, my hair falls at a worrying rate, I’ve got insomnia, and I get ill quite often. A few times, I got illnesses that I hadn’t got for years. Mentally, in addition to what I’ve mentioned above, I also feel that I can’t think clearly, like my brain is clouded. I forget things easily, like things I said/read/wrote a few minutes earlier. It worries me a lot, this thing. Sometimes I go to the kitchen to get a glass of water, but once I’m there I can’t remember what I was going to do. This happens a lot. In the lowest times, I can’t be bothered to talk to anyone, and I become more and more introverted. This has affected my relationships with closest friends and loved ones, so now I’m putting more effort to chat with them, no matter how much I don’t feel like it.

What helps me?

I have done a lot of research about this, and I’ve tried things that said could help treating depression. So the things I write here are the ones that I’ve tried and worked on me:

  • Exercise – Honestly, this is a struggle, especially when I don’t feel like getting out of bed. But I have a dog and I have to walk her every day, and I force myself to go for a run with her at least 3 times a week. Afterward, I always feel a lot better. If not happier, then less sad
  • Playing with my dog – there’s so much love and loyalty in her, and to cope with depression for this long, I owe her a lot
  • Writing – It doesn’t even have to be structured, or make sense. I just need to let it out, and I’ll feel lighter afterward
  • Meeting up with friends – still a struggle, but I have 1 best friend who lives close by. Unfortunately due to her job we can only meet every other weekend, and I always look forward to this. Even if we just chat or watch videos on YouTube, or do nothing, I’ll feel better
  • Distracting myself – In these current circumstances, there are many things that could easily upset me, or push me over the edge. I try hard not to think about those things, by distracting myself with reading, watching Friends or funny videos on YouTube (I’m not kidding, sometimes Ant and Dec and Ellen DeGeneres are the only things that could make me smile/laugh. Many thanks to them)

These are some of the things that help me, but there are lots of other ways too, and I’m planning to try these soon, including yoga and meditation.

How can I help someone who suffers from depression?

Be there, that’s the simplest and easiest thing. Don’t tell them to ‘shake it off’ or ‘snap out of it’, or don’t say ‘Why are you depressed? So many people have it worse than you.’ (depression can occur to anyone, and pointing out the fact that some people have it worse does nothing at all). Let them know that it’s okay to feel that way. Let them know that you care and you want to help, and you’re there should they need anything. Don’t be forceful, but be patient and supportive. Sometimes, little acts of kindness can go a long way, so don’t forget that too.

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I think that’s all I can write about this from my experience, and I really hope this helps. I’m still trying to get out of this, and I’m taking it one day at a time. Right now, I’m forcing myself to believe that better days are coming.


Related post: Review | Dear Stranger: Letters on the Subject of Happiness

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15 Comments

  • Reply nazura gulfira

    DIXIE! This post just made me burst into tears. I have been suffering from depression too (and at this point I’ve come to realise that it all started since one and a half year ago). Aku juga belakangan ini sering kepikiran buat nulis tentang depression di blog tapi belum berani because I know I’m still struggling with it. Tapi abis baca postingan kamu ini aku langsung yakin buat sharing tentang pengalamanku juga. Thank you so much Dixie for letting me know that I’m not the only one who’s fought against this. Sending you a massive hug, Dix! :)

    October 19, 2016 at 4:49 pm
    • Reply Dixiezetha

      Aah Ozu, thank you SO much for your comment! I have to admit I felt a bit shaky after posting this, I too was afraid of sharing it. I guess I worried too much about people’s judgments (because here in Indonesia most people associate mental health with insanity), but that’s all the more reason to post this, so they’ll know better. If this has encouraged you to share your story too, it’s convinced me even more that posting this was the right thing to do. I’m so sorry for what you’re going through Zu, but you’re definitely not alone. It might seem like it because people might be reluctant to share their experiences with it. If you decide to share your story too, you might be surprised at how positive the responses could be, and I’m sure you’ll help other people too along the way. Hugs for you too Zu, kalo pengen ngobrol atau cerita, I’m all ears :)

      October 21, 2016 at 4:32 pm
  • Reply Christa

    This is a very well-written post, Dixie! Thanks for sharing :)

    I completely get you, as I have experienced some of those things myself. Including the time when I tried to speak up to a friend but like you said, was being told to “shake it off” …. which was not too helpful as I then started to question myself “am I crazy? am I exaggerating?” Over time I learned to make peace with myself and only then I was able to think clearer and focus on how to get better by doing the things that would help.

    Better days will definitely come! Semangat! xx

    October 20, 2016 at 4:48 am
    • Reply Dixiezetha

      Ah, thank you Christa! Thanks to you too for inspiring me to write this. I’d always been reluctant to share this because I was afraid of people’s reactions, being told off was definitely not helping and would make it worse. I need to learn to make peace with myself too (which is always the hardest). Thank you once again ya Christa, semangat buat kamu juga xx

      October 21, 2016 at 4:41 pm
  • Reply Icha

    Hi, mbak Dixie. I want to say thanks for this post. Maybe not exactly the same, but the situation you’ve written here happens to me lately.
    “These days, I’m trying hard to stay afloat, to not drown. I don’t even expect a ‘good’ day, just an ‘okay’ day is enough for me.” This is very me.
    In my case, it’s like everytime I finally find the strength to encourage myself, I lose it later, sometimes I don’t even know what I really feel. It’s not easy for me at the moment but despite my anxiety, I’m now trying (struggling) to regain my self-esteem to live the life.
    I wanted to write this kind of post, but I was too afraid of being judged or called a cry baby (yeah, I’m a coward) and I ended up writing a poetic post of my gloomy heart in my last post hahaha.
    Ah, sorry for this long comment :)

    October 21, 2016 at 3:10 pm
    • Reply Dixiezetha

      Hi Icha, thank you for sharing your experience. I really get how it feels, I’m still struggling with it too. And for a long time, I didn’t want to share my experience with anyone, because I was afraid of judgments as well. But really, there’s nothing to be ashamed of. People judge because they don’t really understand about depression, how it feels with all the struggle, and that’s exactly why I shared my experience. Nothing wrong with crying and writing poetic posts, I do that too (it’s cathartic, isn’t it?). Anything that makes you feel better, you should do it. If you don’t want to share your experience, that’s okay. But if you do, don’t be afraid, it might help other people too, and you’ll be surprised of the positive responses. Hang in there ya Icha, better days will come :)

      October 21, 2016 at 4:51 pm
      • Reply Icha

        Thank you for your encouraging words, Mbak Dixie. Yes, better days will come. Semangat! :)

        October 22, 2016 at 10:05 am
  • Reply Ditaa

    Hi Dixie. Nice to meet you. I saw a link under my comments on Christa’s post. I was very depressed couple of times, but there was one time that the anxiety was too much. That part when I didn’t want to do anything was very true. I like lot of activities, from working-out, barhopping or just simply enjoy a good book at home. But when I was very depressed, I scratched out those ideas and ended up doing nothing on my couch. It was also very difficult to find the root of my depression. Was it work-related or love department? I couldn’t comprehend my self.
    I think I crawled out of my rabbit hole of unhappiness by asking a friend to help me and everyday I reassure my self to hang on for more one more day.
    So hang on for one more day, beautiful :)

    October 21, 2016 at 9:31 pm
    • Reply Dixiezetha

      Hi Dita, thank you for visiting and for taking the time to read this. It’s exactly like that for me at the moment, I waste a lot of time doing nothing because I can’t be bothered to do anything, but sometimes the guilt of doing nothing just makes me feel even worse (it’s a vicious circle). And it’s true that right now I tell myself every day to hang on for one more day, and I hope I’ll be able to get out of this soon. Thank you for sharing your story Dita, reading about other people’s experiences makes me feel less alone :)

      October 22, 2016 at 10:18 am
  • Reply diserty

    Tan! We are all fighting our own battle and I agree, others have it worse is in fact not related to our issues. But all I want you to know, whether you already knew it or what, you are strong, You really are. I mean, you keep your sanity and survived until today. It took a lot of strength and you’ve made it. Now, take a moment and pat your self and say “Thank you for being so strong. Thank your for your endurance Dixie!”
    And on top of all, you can always count me, right?
    Remember 2 years ago, you call me out of nowhere and I’d pick up immediately.
    Well, it never change. Much love, Dix!

    October 22, 2016 at 8:31 am
    • Reply Dixiezetha

      Thank you for your words, Tan. I know I’m blessed with wonderful people around me that I can always count on, and you’re one of them. Thank you for always being there, much love to you too! :)

      October 22, 2016 at 10:21 am
  • Reply damasdamas

    Dix I almost cried reading this because I know your struggles and I felt the exact same thing. Every time I tried talking to people about my depression, they always said that I have so much to be thankful for and I should not be feeling this way. I know they meant well and I know that I have so much to be thankful for, but no one can help the way they feel.

    Saying that you don’t deserve to feel sad because someone out there have it worse than you is the same as saying that you don’t deserve to feel happy because someone out there is happier than you. You should know that having you to talk to about what I’m feeling is part of what kept me going dix.

    What helped me overcome my depression and anxiety is just to go out every night, just talking to friends and making new friends. I have always been introverted and I also have social anxiety (when it’s at its most severe, just talking to strangers made me lightheaded and shaky and my body felt warm all over) but for some reason this time I tried putting myself out there to avoid being alone with my thoughts, and it works. The sad thing is people now judge me for it, judging me for being a “playgirl” and judging me for wasting time and money every day to go meet people or have dinner with people. Everyone cope with their problems differently. I just wish we can stop judging people by what we feel is right without any regards for their personal feelings and experiences.

    Thank you for sharing this dix. You are a strong woman and I know you can pull through this. If you need me, I will always be right here.

    The biggest hugs for you from right here in my dull office building :)

    October 25, 2016 at 10:20 am
    • Reply Dixiezetha

      Damas, thank you for sharing your experience as well. I really get that feeling. So many people mean well but they don’t realize that sometimes they make us feel worse instead of better by saying the wrong things. Depression can happen to anyone, regardless of their backgrounds. I’m glad you’ve found a way to cope with that, but angry as well that people are still being judgmental about your choices. Why does it matter to them? Just ignore them Dams, I find that to be the best solution for those kind of people, particularly here (over the last couple of years I’ve perfected the art of ignoring judgmental/negative people and it works wonder!). I’m glad I could help you in some way, and also thank you for being there Dams. Knowing that I have good friends I can always count on has helped me a lot, I hope it does for you too. Hugs from here too Dams! And anytime you want to talk, I’m all ears :)

      October 25, 2016 at 11:18 am
  • Reply Pink Traveler

    hi salam kenal, aku pun pernah merasa depresi karena pekerjaan, temenku juga tapi sialnya temenku dianggap kesurupan jadi di rukyah tapi tetap saja nggak sembuh karena emang bukan kemasukan makhluk halus :)

    October 11, 2017 at 6:28 am
    • Reply Dixiezetha

      Sedih ya masih banyak yang belum paham atau bahkan aware dengan mental health, sampe disangkain macem2. Padahal kesehatan mental sama pentingnya dengan kesehatan fisik. Semoga orang2 semakin sadar dan peduli dengan mental health ya :)

      October 11, 2017 at 9:58 pm

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