From Depression to Happiness: The 4 Steps That Helped to Change My Life

From Depression to Happiness: The 4 Steps That Helped to Change My Life

I always thought happy people were fakers.

Growing up with clinical depression and obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), I never knew what it was like to be happy for more than a few moments at a time.

I was so used to struggling that I couldn’t imagine a life in which every day was easy. I couldn’t grasp the idea that other people’s happiness could be real.

Or maybe I just didn’t want to.

Because I didn’t want to burden other people with my depression, I didn’t talk to anyone about it.

I tried to act normal. I tried to be like everyone else.

I drank heavily and took diet pills to make myself more attractive so that people would concentrate on my outsides (heaven forbid they find out how much was actually wrong with me).

I felt trapped by my disorders, by everything I thought was wrong with me.

It got to the point of holding so much in, I didn’t think I could handle it anymore.

In 2005, I tried to kill myself.

Thankfully, my roommate stopped me. I was admitted to an inpatient program against my will the next day.

In the mental ward, I had no freedom.

I was forced to be at a group meeting at a certain time. I was told to go to sleep at a certain time. I couldn’t even choose whether I took medication or not.

Being truly trapped was the most horrible feeling I have ever experienced.

When I was released, I felt enlightened.

I had been taking my freedom for granted.

Out here in the free world, I have the choice to do something about my unhappiness.

By accepting the diagnoses of these debilitating disorders, I was removing responsibility from myself. I felt like I was given a hopeless life sentence that wasn’t worth fighting against.

After being shown what life could be like without choices, without trying to improve, I knew there was no way to keep living the way that I was.

I made the choice then and there, to change my life.

Over the next few years, I took steps to overcome my depression, as impossible as that might sound. I decided not to give up and refused to give over to my disorders.

I failed a lot, but every time I fell down, I got right back up again.

7 years later, I am a bubbly personal trainer and online coach, determined to empower you to overcome your setbacks and discover your happiness.

No matter where you are in life, if you are not happy, something needs to change. Life is too short to be lived in a haze of hopelessness.

Many people who come to me online and in my personal training business tell me that they feel helpless to change.

There are indeed some diseases, disorders, and situations that you will have no control over, that cannot be changed.

But you always have the choice of how you react to them and what to do when they threaten to take over your life.

What we want to do is create space for happiness, even if you think your life is full of darkness.

There is light somewhere, and I am determined to help you find it.

I found the following steps extremely helpful on my road to recovery, and I hope you do, too.

Talk About It

Find a trusted friend, family member or therapist who you can talk to openly.

Getting your emotions out and asking for support without guilt is crucial to the healing process.

Make sure this person is:

  • supportive
  • willing to help
  • unbiased

I am the biggest proponent for therapy because it was so crucial to my journey. Even if you haven’t been diagnosed with anything in particular, therapy can help sort out confusing thoughts and issues that you may be carrying with you which could be keeping you from full-fledged happiness.

Refocus

Instead of dwelling on the negative things happening to you (such as things you have no control over), focus on the positive actions you can take.

What can you do to create happiness in your life? Even if everything around you seems dim, you can always take action to create some semblance of light.

For instance, in the very beginning of my recovery, I had no idea how to start “being happy.” I tried a lot of things to get my mind off the negative thoughts, but I found exercise to be the most effective. It decreased stress, helped me focus throughout the day, and made me feel stronger during and after my workout. This is how I discovered my passion for health and fitness, which has added countless amounts of happiness to my life!

Make A Mantra

If you didn’t know I’m a self-development writer, you do now! ;)

Seriously, though, mantras help me through every part of my day.

I have a few, but the one I use in most situations is, “You can do this.”

Find a phrase, quote or word that strikes a chord in you. Your mantra should give you strength when you need it in challenging moments.

A few others that I use:

  • Don’t let this defeat you.
  • This won’t kill me. I will come out stronger.
  • Breathe.

You can say them out loud, but for social reasons, I tend to repeat inside my own head. :)

Need some ideas? Check out Pinterest for visual inspiration. There are some amazing images out there that motivate me daily.

Give Happiness

I dare you to try to help someone else feel better, then feel depressed after. It’s impossible!

The feeling of giving happiness to someone else has a way of taking the heaviness out of your own life.

Now, I’m not saying, “Go help other people so that you never think of how depressed you are.”

On the contrary, I recommend you put yourself first. Take care of your mental and physical health, but after that therapy session, go volunteer at a soup kitchen. You’ll be amazed what the combination will do for your spirits!

The most important thing to do is to make the choice to fight for happiness.

Letting life happen to you by default leaves you with very few options.

  • Why can’t you be the one living the life you’ve always dreamed of?
  • Why can’t you be the success story you read about in magazines?
  • Why can’t you be the one to change the world?

Make the choice to change your life. Make this your moment.

Amy Clover

Amy Clover created Strong Inside Out with the mission of empowering you to overcome life's obstacles with positive action. She just released her premier book, Make This Your Moment: A Step-by-Step Guide to Changing Your Life... for Good. Come over to Facebook and say "hi," then like for daily doses of inspiration!

80 Comments

  1. Amy,

    Thanks for accepting my invitation to write a guest post – I’m truly inspired by your story and I’m so glad you chose to share it with readers of The Change Blog. I love the look of pure happiness on your face in the image – it’s hard to believe you used to be so different. Just goes to show what can happen when we take responsibility and choose to change our lives.

    Peter

    Reply
    • Peter, it is such an honor to be on your inspirational site! I really hope my story inspires hope in those who need it! Thank you for inviting me to spread the message to your readers!

      Reply
    • Hi Amy. You sound a lot like me. I also went through ALL of those situations you mentioned. When I got out I felt the same way you did- freedom, choices, etc. But the feelings did not last long. Things went back to status quo, very depressing. I did join a all women gym, with a personal trainer and loved it. I liked to tough physical work out, not the being around people part of it. The gym has closed, I joined another, but don’t l be it. I am very interested in how to become a personal trainer, and maybe even a life coach, since working out seems to be the only thing that makes me feel alive, accomplished. It’s the only thing I see getting me out of my black hole which I have been in my whole life, and I am now 46. I have been thinking about becoming a personal trainer for quite some time now, but never pursued it very far. Any advice to n how to become a personal trainer, and any other helpful advice would be greatly appreciated. Thank you so much!

      Reply
      • Hi Cheryl,

        Training is wonderful, but it took me a couple of years to get to a point at which I wasn’t struggling financially. It was worth it for me, but I want to be completely honest with you when I say it will take time and hustle if you want that to be your career. The amount of effort it takes can definitely trigger depression, which is why I also recommend solidifying your coping mechanisms with the guidance of a licensed counselor.

        The first step you would take would be to get certified. My first cert was National Academy of Sports Medicine, and I think they’re great. Going forward, you would get a job at a gym (which would help a lot to onboard new clients) or you would do the marketing yourself if you want to stay independent (which will take a lot more work).

        Best to you in whichever path you choose!

        Reply
  2. Amy,

    ……….I cant tell you how these words really affect me…..
    theses last three question literally made me cry…..

    I need to find myself….I need to be somthing….I really feel like I have to…but I dont know what? or how??

    thanks for those amazing words again

    wish me luck

    Reply
    • Ahmedkhalil,

      You are not alone. That feeling you have is the start of something great. Ride it and take action!

      I am so incredibly happy to be able to have been this voice for you. I wish you every happiness!

      Amy

      Reply
  3. Amy,

    This article is wonderful– so full of practical, believable, follow-able wisdom. Like Ahmed, I found a chord being struck as I read. Getting past something that is emotionally crippling sometimes requires we hear the same “how-to-get-over-it” message we’ve been hearing repeatedly, but in just the right way. Your perspective, thankfully, really resonates with me. Thank you so much for everything you’ve said here.

    Peter, this girl needs to be a regular!

    Regards,
    Chad

    Reply
    • Thank you, Chad!

      I think part of the problem is that people with depression constantly hear from people who are not depressed that they should “just get over it.” Depressed people are constantly living in guilt, and prompts like “just stop it,” make that feeling much worse.

      Instead, taking responsibility for your happiness, and allowing yourself to loosen your grip on the past will let you make space for taking action to find your best life NOW.

      Thank you so much again for the very kind words!

      Amy

      Reply
      • Thanks. I hear all the time just get over it. My depression started the beginning of last year. I am in therapy and on meds.i lost my job in October. I just can’t seem to get out of this depression and feel like giving up. My husband and I are not doing good. I thank you for this sight.

        Reply
  4. Such an inspiring post Amy, Thank you so much for sharing your personal experiences. Sure I’d love to try those questions but my fav. one is this – “Why can’t you be the one to change the world?” There is an undying desire in me to change the world or at least the little world I live in. I too am going through depression and I always felt that peace of mind really means Happiness. Thanks for the inspiration. I hope I too can smile wholeheartedly one day.

    Reply
    • Hi Aditya!

      You CAN change the world! One thing to be conscious of: when you change one person’s day, the ripple effect can be world-altering. :)

      For you, I think concentrating on helping other people may be the best route. When you feel the power of helping one person, I think you’ll get addicted to it!

      Please let me know how it goes!

      Reply
  5. Hi Amy,

    I want to say I’m truly grateful to you for sharing your story. I came across your blog recently actually, and so its cool to see you over here on the Change Blog as well :)

    It’s posts like this, and blogs like this and yours that remind people, among many wonderful things, that there is hope and light at the end of the tunnel. And most of all, that when it feels like there isn’t, that they aren’t alone.

    I myself am on a journey to rise from the ashes of a roller coaster of a year, and like posts like this to remind myself that I am and can keep moving upward and forward.
    I like the advice on the mantras – right now when I feel myself getting uptight and feeling unrelaxed I say over and over, and pardon my french but this works for me hah, “Lauren, chi’l the f*ck out”. :)

    – Laur

    Reply
    • Thank you, thank you, thank you Lauren. That is what I hope to do here and on my blog: help people feel less alone.

      I LOVE your mantra, by the way! If it speaks to you, go with it!

      I hope to hear updates! :)

      Reply
  6. Amy, thank you for you post!

    I get trapped in similar mindset from time to time: it seems that there is no happiness, and everyone just pretends to be positive and happy, because they don’t want to admit it.

    Reply
    • I felt exactly the same way, Alex. I couldn’t fathom that there were people out there GENUINELY happy.

      I can now say that happiness is real. It is not some emotion made up by Hallmark. It can be a way of life!

      You can find it, Alex. You will. Stick in there.

      I never thought I’d find it. I didn’t think it really existed.

      I think the key is not to “find” it, but to create it. :)

      Reply
  7. I just wanted to say thank you. Thank you for giving the inspiration of life, love, and happiness.

    I’ve been living with severe depression for sometime now. I’m only 26 and can’t remember when the last time i smiled and was just happy for myself and being myself. I’ve had recent troubles with relationships and it’s taking its toll. I to tried and thought about taking my life. But i don’t think i can face my brother in the after life after doing so. Your steps have helped a lot better then therapy. Your an inspiration to me. Thank you.

    “The only man i strive to be stronger than, is the man i was yesterday” is my quote. Wish me luck….

    Reply
    • Hi Matthew,

      I know how you feel. It seems like an awful joke when life throws love at you and then it crumbles into nothing.

      What really helped me after horrible breakups was to think of all the reasons why I wasn’t compatible with that person. It made it seem more like fate to me and personally, I like to think that everything happens for a reason. I know it’s hard to think that way when you’re feeling really low, though.

      I am so incredibly happy to be that inspiration for you. I can’t tell you how much it means to me, after everything, to read a comment like that. Thank you.

      I wish you much luck, health and happiness, Matthew! And I hope you let me know how it goes!

      Reply
  8. I also have struggled with depression for most of my life until, about two months ago, I began to seek help to pull myself out of it. This is such sound advice, I have noticed all of these connections too. Thank you for sharing your story and the article.

    Reply
  9. Kudos to you for seeking help, Kait! My therapist helped me so much in those dark times.

    You’re so very welcome!

    Reply
  10. Hi Amy,

    I think that many people who struggle with heavy depression (and I have, myself) have a hard time believing that the journey to wholeness and happiness can even be made. That’s where stories like yours can be such an inpiration. Thank you for sharing it. I agree that connection/reaching out, reaffirming your choice to move towards health, redirecting your thoughts, and giving from your heart to others are all really valuable steps to take when one decides to move forward into new life.

    Reply
    • Thank you, Seth. It’s one of those cases in which you don’t believe it until you experience it. It’s just so unfortunate that many of us with clinical depression have only caught glimpses of happiness throughout our lives.

      I’m really glad to hear you find my story inspiring! I hope you are successfully creating happiness, too!

      Reply
  11. Happiness coupled with the feeling of being relaxed is the end result that you want to achieve.
    To arrive at that point is both hard and on the other hand easy.
    Hard because by useing conventional systems they are not able to get to the core of the problem, the sub-consciousness, Easy if you know how to get to the sub-consciousness and remove the blockages.
    A techneque using Energy Therapies is able to access the sub-consciousness but the conventional medical system tends to ignore the ease that removal is achieved.
    Does it work, Yes, I have acheived very good results in a very short time.
    No talking, unless you want to.
    Re-focusing is not necessary, as you clear the negatives you will start to re-focus.
    Mantras are Switchwords that assist with the re-focusing and
    Happyness is really a state of calm the emunates from the sence of calm.
    With some people the effects are very easy and lasting in a very short time, how long, belive it or not just one session.
    With others maybe 2 or 3 sessions are needed.
    I have been using this system for a couple of years but there is always room for improvement.

    Reply
    • That’s interesting, Len. Thank you for sharing! I’m always open to new techniques.

      I think different things work for different people. I say, if you’ve found something that works for you, stick with it!

      Very happy to hear you’re making progress!

      Reply
  12. Amy, what a terrific article.

    Having experienced depression for most of my life, it was easy for me to connect with your article. Sharing your story is going to impact so many people.

    There are so many ways to overcome depression and in my opinion, none of them are wrong.

    As a Certified Hypnotherapist, helping with depression must always be “out of my scope of expertise”.

    Luckily I can (and do) help people with negative thoughts and feelings.

    I know it takes strength of character, which of course you have in spades, to share your story. I hope thousands of people read it :-)

    Reply
  13. Thank you, Wendy! And thank you for your thoughtful comment on Facebook as well!

    There are, indeed, many ways to go about overcoming depression. As I said to Len, I think different methods work for different people. I try not to discount any techniques especially if I’ve never tried them myself; I think a lot of things that worked for me may not work for others and vice versa. :)

    I have heard great things about hypnotherapy from friends. It sounds like you’re doing life-changing work yourself. It’s great to connect with others who want to spread the happiness, too!

    Reply
    • Thanks for your kind words, Amy.
      Like you, I do life-changing work because I’ve been there. Even better, it’s a great personal reminder to remember to direct my thoughts when I need to :-)

      It’s kind of funny, but so many of my clients are genuinely surprised that still use the tools I teach for myself. I think it’s because so many of us at one time or another believed that everyone else is naturally happy.

      And while some people are truly naturally happy, many of us need to learn how to be :-)

      Have you also noticed this?

      Reply
      • The great thing about having used the tools we have for so long is that it becomes habit! :)

        I agree: learning to be happy was one of the hardest parts because I didn’t think I should have to. I didn’t think that I should have to put in the work when other people were just pretending. I think that kept me in denial and kept me from change for a long time.

        Reply
    • Thank you, Kirsten!

      I used that mantra for one of the toughest parts of my recovery actually. It’s a phenomenal one for the lowest points. Thank you for reminding me!

      Reply
  14. Great post, Amy. I especially like your points about talking and making a mantra. I’ve done both on my journey. I’ve noted that talking about it is the biggest key to letting go and moving forward.

    Reply
  15. Thanks!

    I agree, Dan. I think that was the most crucial step I took was starting to talk about it. By saying it out loud and acknowledging your pain, it’s easier to find out what needs fixing. :)

    Reply
  16. Hi, Amy,

    I liked your transition from an unhappy period to a happy stage! Bravo to what you’ve done and what you are doing for others.

    I wasn’t that unhappy, but I had an unhappy marriage for 7 years and during the same period, I got a rhumatoid arthritis which deblitated me physically and psycholosically. I used to being happy, active and motivated person befor I got all that, but the disease limited my activity: I cannot do that, I’m too tired, I have to get rest, I should not do that, I have to avoid this and that….I was sticking to health related website all the time. But one day, I realized that I didn’t want to kill my life because of this disease. I have the right to have a life as everyone. I was sick of being sick! So, I changed the way I live everyday. Now, I don’t feel sick any more, I even have no pain, I’m physically stronger than everyone else now!
    After the unhappy marriage, I was so angry and I was not happy at all. I regreted that I got married with this person. I was afraid of men and I didn’t even want to have another relationsihp. But one day, “I have the right to be happy with someone who takes care of me, who share the same passion”. Because as long as I’m angry at my ex husband, he is still there in my head. So, I stop getting angry at whatever had happened before because I cannot reverse it. I started looking outside. I met many nice people, I met the person who shares the same passion!

    It’s myself who make my life, not others. It’s me who make myself happy. It’s me who need to change to find my happiness!

    Reply
    • I love that you say: “…I realized that I didn’t want to kill my life because of this disease.”

      There’s something to be said for some cases in which the person simply refuses to be victimized by the disease. If we can choose to at least try to overcome it, in many times, we will. I realize that there are some cases that are much harder to overcome than others, but it delights me to read that you decided to make your life a happy one… and then did!

      Thank you so much for sharing your story with us, Malika!

      Reply
  17. Just read the article.It’s so supportive and it has all positive things which we need to hear.

    In brief , if we want to do sth for our sake, everything will be possible .

    Thanks :)

    Reply
    • So happy to hear it, Sinem!

      And yes, as long as we commit to working on ourselves, we can always make our lives better, richer, and happier.

      Reply
  18. Amy,

    Your story is very powerful for us readers. Thank you for sharing your experiences. Your experiences seem to have motivated you in your quest to help and motivate others as well. That’s a true gift that will take you far in your journey because you’ve been there. Thanks again for your inspirational story and tips

    Eugene

    Reply
    • Thank you, Eugene. I really appreciate your kind words, and I hope the post helped you as well!

      Reply
  19. Amy,

    Your story is truly inspiring. You came out of that dark place and made a conscious decision to change. Sometimes we forget that we even have a choice to make, and that can lead to feelings of hopelessness.

    I think “Refocusing” is mainly about loving yourself. For example, when you decided to exercise, you made the choice to love yourself. Loving yourself first, you then moved on to loving others. By “giving happiness” you expressed the love and happiness within you!

    Great story, and I’m sure you’ll empower many others :)

    Reply
    • I agree with you wholeheartedly, Sean! By loving myself, I was able to open up that love to others. It is an oft-forgotten (and crucial) part of the process.

      Thank you so much for your appreciation!

      Reply
  20. in my mind happiness is really hard to find. no one knows what i feel it seems like. i tell my parents but they dont really say much. my dad……….thinks im fine but he doesnt no me. my mom sais she will get me a counsler then never does.

    Reply
    • I can totally relate, Marty. In my teens, I didn’t feel like anyone understood what I was going through. Ends up that I was just talking to the wrong people… or not talking enough.

      May I be so bold to suggest you seek a counselor yourself? Is that something you would be allowed to do? There is a counselor out there eager to help you. Is there someone at your school or work who you could ask about recommendations?

      Reply
  21. Thanks Amy for the wonderful post. I loved it. Am sure it will help every one who reads it to a great extent.
    Looking forward for more posts from you .

    Reply
    • Thank you so much, Kavya! :)

      Reply
  22. Hi,

    I’m not english speaker, so i’m sorry for my quite bad english.

    In fact I think that writing this text in an another language that mine will be bettter, because my friends and relatives wouldn’t be able to find it and for me writing it in an other language is like it would be unreal for me. I can’t say to myself that I’m depressive.

    But, I know that I need help! I don’t want to tell my story, because it’s too long. But you have to know that my life is NOT A NIGHTMARE! Yes, it’s true, my parents are in life, not my grandparents, but I’m have the feeling that I need something, I don’t know why, I have no excuse because I’m student and in my country studies fees are very low (Maybe you guessed where I’m from :) ).But I’m feel useless. Two years ago, a lot of girls sais that I was attractive, but I’m not able to attract one. And seriously I’m nice, really, but I don’t know, when I meet a girl, I have this feeling in my mind: “Oh this girl will be bored by me, I’m so uninteressant…” I feel that I’m interessant when I’m (pretty drunk) but then, there is nothing.

    I do not really what to do :(

    (Really, I have to improve my english, sorry :()

    Reply
    • Hi Levek!

      Please don’t apologize for your English. The fact that you type in 2 languages is amazing all on its own! :)

      This must be a very tough time for you. A lot of us (me included) struggle with self-worth issues, which is what it sounds like you’re dealing with. As hard as it may be to remind ourselves when these thoughts come up, we have to remember that we are all worthy of love. Every single one of us.

      I would love to refer you to the resource page at To Write Love On Her Arms, the non-profit I donate to. They have a great list of people who you could talk to and they would be able to help you a lot more than I can here. The address is twloha . com / find-help

      I hope that helps! And please remember that you are loved, just for the simple fact that you are alive.

      Much health and happiness,

      Amy

      Reply
  23. Wow, I always think happy people are faking it too. Well, some people really do fake it! But others don’t. Thanks so much for these four steps, I think they will really help my battle against depression!

    Reply
    • Hi! I’m actually an introvert, too. :)

      Some are faking it, yes, but not all. I’m really happy I could help if even a little with your depression! Just keep taking positive action. You can do this. :)

      Reply
  24. Hi Amy,

    I stumbled on this site and was looking for some encouragement, and what you said has fired me up to change. I am so blessed with alot of things in my life but find myself empty. I go out with some friends and brothers and we sit and drink and it hurts my body so much the next day and I feel sad,empty etc… I was marriade for 14 years and went through a divorce and life is so different the last 3-1/2 years. I started to go on dating sites and cannot seem to find someone and have been told I’m handsome and cute and all that but nothing maybe because I’m only 5’7 and alot of women want tall guys?? I offer so much, I’m a Christian, I love to cook!! I play music, love to design interior and landscape, I have a great job have an AWESOME 11 year old daughter but still nothing!! I just want to be happy and change old habits and meet someone AWESOME!!

    Reply
    • And you will, Monte! Stay open and loving to the world and you will. Keep the faith, my friend, and keep remembering all those blessings. Don’t start imagining reasons why it can’t happen. :)

      Reply
  25. Amy, thank you for your post. I have been struggling with depression, PTSD, anxiety, and OCD for my entire life, and often wonder if seemingly healthy and happy people, like you have described yourself in the present, have ever felt the same as I do. Your words gave me hope, and I know that I am not alone. Congratulations to your successes and for helping others in the process!

    Reply
    • My pleasure, Meg. Thank you for voicing that to me.

      Best of luck on your journey and please never forget how important you are.

      Reply
  26. My favorite mantra is “Do your best with what you have, where you are.” It says a lot of different things to me.

    That you’re not always going to have what you need to handle and thrive in every situation. But you can always learn more things to handle a greater amount of them. And the more you have, the more you can handle.

    That you have a responsibility to develop whatever talents you have to the very BEST that they can be, in each moment of your life. Work on them today, not tomorrow.

    That you are not always in control of everything that happens, but you are in control of what you do about it.

    That if you’re doing your best, other people’s opinions don’t really matter. It’s illogical; you can’t do better than your best. And no one should expect you to. If they do, then that’s their stupidity, not yours.

    Thought I’d share that. Thanks for the great post! I really loved it (being someone who has suffered from bouts of depression myself)!

    Reply
    • I absolutely love that, Kyla. Beautiful insight. Thank you so much for sharing! :)

      Reply
  27. Thank you for this article. I was recently diagnosed with depression last year. It was a horrible feeling. My boyfriend at the time thought I overdosed on pills. I was so out of it an ambulance came and got me. This resulted me being hospitalized for a week and after I got out I felt a little freedom. Soon after my boyfriend set me up with a psychiatrist. The doctor put me on meds and it changed my life. 29 years old a senior in college, great job,
    good family, been with my boyfriend for 8 years. I thought life was grand.
    But I realized while I was off work staying with my parents until I felt better. That I wasn’t really happy in my relationship. I really wanted to marry him and he would be there as long as I let him. So I decided to break up with him while I was sick. I was in denial and it really hurt to waste my time with someone I thought loved me. This was a very hard decision. I have decided to take care of myself. Now months later I feel like I’m gaining control of my life. I’m focusing on things that matter. Depression will not win. During all this my ex-boyfriend contacts me by email apologizing. While I’m trying to move on. My psychiatrist blamed the depression on my difficult relationship. It sucks but I was hanging on to a dead end relationship. Learned my lesson, trying to focus back on school and hopefully graduate in the fall.

    Reply
    • Erica, thank you so much for sharing your story with us. I hope that it can help someone else who’s in a similar situation right now.

      As you gain your freedom, you’ll find old relationships will have to be let go and new ones forged. It’s the natural progression of things. Maybe he was meant to be in your life at that point, and (this may sound harsh) the relationship served its purpose.

      It warms my heart to read that you recognize that he loved you, but you weren’t getting what you wanted out of the relationship. That is so important to realize.

      Wishing you every happiness in your new, free life. :)

      Reply
  28. Hmm…I find very similar advice all over the internet. I think it is sound advice, but something is lacking. I think it is too simplistic. I can’t pinpoint how exactly but perhaps it will help to explain a little bit about my own personal experience with depression and how I have attempted to resolve this disease. Firstly, exercise does help..but it is not the answer to “curing” depression. Exercise has to be an absolute for all people…depression or not…and it will have a positive impact on anyone’s mood. But it does not cure…it lifts the spirits for a couple hours after (seratonin) and makes one feel like they’ve “accomplished” something, but the effects do wear off. I have been active and fit all my life and still deal with depression on a daily basis. I do use it to help with the symptoms. Second, having a confidante or counselor is also vital..especially one that is non-judging and accepting of you wherever you are. However, this too does not “flip the switch” and is a remedy for a symptom rather than a cure. Thirdly, giving to others what you want for yourself (compassion, love, etc) is also critical in relieving depression symptoms and cultivating an attitude of appreciation for life. However, it also does not “cure” depression. So here is my gripie…many times (this article included) the author begins by stating that depression is an illness, not a choice, but then gives advice on how choosing to act/behave/think differently will cure/alleviate the depression. Contradictory? For comparison, consider If a physician told a type 1 diabetic that they have a disease. Their body doesn’t make insulin. However, if they exercise more, eat better, monitor sugar levels, etc. they will be cured…they wouldn’t need to inject insulin! Wrong! Even if they take all the good advice the doctor gives them, they would still need to inject insulin since their body doesn’t produce it and no amount of good health practices will change that fact. The same is true of people who have legitimate depression. Going to the gym, volunteering at a soup kitchen, weekly sessions with a compassionate counselor will all help a depressed person to see the bright side of life. But it doesn’t cure depression. And we need more research and educated professionals who know brain/hormonal/body chemistry to determine why…and less non-professionals advocating the same advice (that this disease is a matter of choices and mind-set). I’d like to finish by adding that I have a good job with great benefits (ie financially stable), exercise 5 days a week, meditate 3-4 days a week, do yoga, have done many forms of counseling including breathwork, traumawork, CBT, ACT, DBT, have healthy eating habits, read numerous spiritual and health books, have a BS in Biology, own a home, considered smart and compassionate by most people, have some family and friend support, have sought help for this disease from psychiatrists, psychologists, medical doctors, naturopaths, acupuncturists, religious counselors, etc. for 17 years (I”m 35 years old). I am still struggling. I wish to have a happy ending to my story, and will not give up, but it is difficult and tiring and becomes more difficult in some ways the older I get. There is something physically and pyschologicaly off with me and I hope to get to the bottom of it sooner rather than later. Thank you for reading and hopefully this was helpful to someone.

    Reply
    • Hi Shannon,

      Thank you for your honest response. I think you have some very valid points that I hope to address here.

      First off, I’m really sorry to hear that you’re still struggling and even though you disagree with a lot of what I have to offer in this post, I do hope that you can find some relief in it, or at least feel less alone after reading it.

      I apologize if this post came off as my “cure” for depression. That is not what I intended at all. On my blog, I constantly talk about how I personally fall back into depression at times as clinical depression is a chemical imbalance. It is, however, my coping mechanisms that I have worked on for years, and having the outlet of fitness that have helped me to deal with bouts of depression as they surface, and to overcome them faster. They no longer take over my life and keep me from being able to function.

      Just as a diabetic needs insulin, we need those coping mechanisms that can be formed by taking the steps above to keep depression from taking over our lives. Though, just like insulin, they are not the cure. Diabetes sticks around after every shot. Depression will likely resurface if it’s a chemical imbalance.

      My hopes in writing this post were to offer people ways to alleviate some of the pain and struggle that worsen without having those coping mechanisms in place. There is hope for a life without unending pain. There is hope for happiness.

      It sounds like you’re taking all the necessary steps to move forward yourself, and I am so happy to hear that. Please keep going, and keep hoping. Just because there is no “cure” doesn’t mean there is no hope for a better life.

      Reply
    • Hi Shannon,

      After reading your post, it looks like you and me are very similar. I am 35 years old, have always been a fit and healthy person that goes to the gym, eats all the right things, have a very satisfying career, a wonderful husband and two beautiful children. I have a psychologist that is great and I am still struggling.
      I first experienced depression 2 years ago, 6 months after my youngest was born and was diagnosed with postpartum depression. I went though about 8-9 months of treatment(medication) combined with therapy and seemed to recover and had a great year afterwards. last December I started feeling all the symptoms of depression return and right away called the doctor and my therapist. Since then I have had little improvement and have gone through extensive medical examinations, from ultrasounds, hormonal tests, thyroid tests, saw a psychiatrist, a gynecologist and was told that most likely I am entering perimenopause and because I have already experienced depression it is very likely that this are all symptoms of this phase.
      You mentioned that it seems harder as you get older. I just wanted to let you know of my experience so you can get checked for all reasons that may affect the depression or make it worse.

      I wish you all the best and look forward to more posts from you.

      Reply
  29. Hello Amy,
    I do appreciate your blog because it brings awareness to the “thing” that most refuse to address. I am going through this myself and I plan to make a great comeback. However, I know it is going to be a great challenge. I do have a question for you. How do you overcome personal struggles when everyone around you is struggling with their own demons?

    Reply
    • That’s a great question, Chantera. The best answer is that you have to put your happiness first. Whatever makes YOU happy, do it. Even if that means that you might hurt other people’s feelings or let them down. If it means your peace of mind, prioritize it.

      Reply
  30. Hi Amy,

    I’m a 15 year old girl. My past has been very bad, and still is. I lived for five years in an orphanage. When I got a foster family, I was a happy beginning. in school I dont have friends, I have no one to talk to my problems. Every day i thing i want to kill myself. I’ve searched the internet for help, I have not found very much, but today I came across your blog while I was reading, then I have tears flowed. I am very grateful to you that you dare to write it.

    Reply
    • Maria, I am so very happy that I could offer you some comfort in these hard times. Please don’t lose hope. This will get better. Keep taking action and find a counselor or social worker who may be able to lend an ear. There are some great resources on the TWLOHA page (www dot twloha dot com).

      Please stay with us. Your story isn’t over.

      Reply
  31. Hey I am 14 male and I have a lot of problems recently(depression, loneliness, withdrawal, ect.) I am looking for someone to talk to I just don’t want to talk to my family or friends because they all think I am really happy all the time and I don’t want that to change. If someone can contact me by email or by this website I will be very grateful

    Reply
    • Hi Corey! I’m going to do my best here on the site, but there is truly nothing like face-to-face interactions. Is there a counselor at your school you would feel comfortable talking to, or maybe a trusted teacher even? Unfortunately, neither Peter nor I are mental health professionals, so as much as we can support and encourage you, we cannot offer you the full scope of help you may need.

      The first recommendation I would have (beyond finding someone you trust to talk to) would be to remember that no one can be happy all the time. It is impossible. We can’t have “happy” without “unhappy” to compare it to. It is completely ok that you are not ok right now. I don’t think you should be scared to talk about it to those who love you and want you to feel your best. Holding it inside will do more harm than good.

      Just remember that there’s nothing wrong with you for feeling like this. You are not alone in this, and there is help for you if you want it. This, too, shall pass.

      Reply
      • Thanks and it’s not that I am scared to tell the ones I love I just don’t want them to think I am the happy outgoing person that I am not. Thanks for the help Amy

        Reply
  32. Amy,
    I’m also grateful to have found this post by pure coincidence. I grew up feeling depressed most of my childhood for several painful obstacles. Somehow I managed to do something with myself. I have been successful with my career but every once in a while I can’t help myself for feeling down, for not been strong enough to make a change and try do find my true calling even if it does not grant me a lot of security. I appreciate that you came out of the darkness into the light. And yes, if we don’t empower,love and accept ourselves we are truly living in desperation. We are not defeated unless we think we are. Thank you for sharing and your courage.

    Reply
    • Melissa, I’m so very happy to hear that the post helped you.

      I think it’s normal for people to have lows, no matter how happy they are. If we didn’t, we wouldn’t realize how amazing being happy is. As long as you do like you said when that happens: empower, love and accept yourself to move forward.

      Wishing you much health and happiness!

      -Amy

      Reply
  33. Happiness is a lovely thing, but the only way to find it is by working on it slowly. You will be pleased when you achieve it in the end.

    Reply
  34. Hi,

    Thank you for all the inspiring words you used in this article. I can’t say how glad I an for reading this, since there are hundreds of depression related things like this that tell everyone to live and be happy. However yours has stunned me. The last questions you wrote on here were amazing and made me think more deeply about life. So I thank you for that.

    The problem is…lets face it, my depression won’t ever go away and just leave me alone. You see all my life I’ve been confident and happy, but that’s when I lived in Europe. Then when I was 15 we moved to the states, i was fine. School was not a problem. Until i turned 16. Pain. Mental issues. Suffering. Suicidal thoughts. They all just latched onto my back like that, that was the beginning of depression for me.

    I hardly know why I get depressed. Sometimes it’s because I think life is not good enough, or because I don’t have the friends i had back in Europe. School has changed big time, I hate it.

    I have good grades (in fact i have Straight a’s) but i still don’t find anything in particular to be interesting. I also like to learn but i feel like school’s just not good enough.

    I suffer from derealization because now, every day, every morning the second i wake up, life doesn’t feel quite right. My life is a dream. Things aren’t the same like they were.

    I just wish i wasn’t so depressed all the time. I don’t know if i want to continue living like this.

    Every day, I’m dreading for the next. :(

    Reply
    • Craig, I felt exactly as you do now. I didn’t think there was a way through. I thought my depression would run my life forever.

      But I was wrong.

      There is another way to live if you put in the effort to change the way you interpret and react to situations. It may never COMPLETELY go away, no, but your coping skills WILL get better. You will become better at realizing your triggers and know what to do when you start spiraling down so that it doesn’t get so low every time.

      I have clinical depression, so mine is a chemical imbalance in my brain that sometimes shifts without provocation. After working hard on becoming aware of when I begin to sink, and putting in a lot of effort to reframe my habitual reactions when I do, I have held on and created a fulfilling life without depression looming over me at all times. I did this with the help of a few mental health professionals. I highly suggest working with a therapist to help shift your perspective and ingrain coping tools into you so that they become habit.

      It may seem tough right now, but THIS DOESN’T HAVE TO BE YOUR FOREVER. If you start taking actions now, you will find a way to deal with the pain and find the light in even the darkest places.

      You can do this. Hang in there please. The world needs you here.

      Reply
  35. Hi Amy it’s. 3 in the morning when I came across you’re site.I realized all my life i have had depression, my story is so…long and unbelievable I will just get to the present of my question, how does one try to be happy it just content when they have maybe. 2 years to live and even with my sadness about my fatal illness I never wanted. To kill myself. In the worst throes of depression. My biggest. Fears are happening now” its hard for me just to get out of bed I should of mentioned that I need a liver transplant then yes I have a chance but with the way my negative thought are I’m constantly trying to fight the doom and gloom.I’m 55 and I want to live even on my worst day,and I do put up a front like everyone Saids no wants to be around a sad looking or sick person.I thank you for your article Amy I know I’m not alone.

    Reply
    • Oh, Laura. I’m so sorry to hear about your illness and am sending you much love.

      I think that, if I were in your situation, I would just try to live every day to the fullest. I would go on the trips I’d been waiting to take. I’d reach out to the people I’ve wanted to talk to for way too long. I’d live with abandon and just try to enjoy every second of it.

      None of us know how long we have here, and many of us live out all our days without fully living any of them. You have this chance now to fulfill your dreams and do all the things you’ve been waiting to do. Don’t wait anymore. This diagnosis is your push to go live as fully as you can.

      Wishing you much joy and strength, Laura. Sending my thoughts out to you.

      Reply
  36. Amy…. Lovely inspiring post

    I have felt depressed for 20 odd years, have suffered OCD, Anxiety and Panic attacks.
    I have also suffered horrendous bouts of Depersonalization and Derealization.

    My problem now is apathy and numbness……I can`t even remember what the “normal” me feels like!!! This has been going on for 2 years and is making me so fed up!!

    Did you go through any form of anhedonia (inability to feel pleasure)? If so, how long did it last…..and what did “the breakthrough” to normality feel like??

    Thanks xx

    P.s – I refuse to take Ssri`s (did you?) – Also, do you think supplememts such as Rhodiola/5htp/SJW would be of benefit alongside exercise?

    Reply
  37. I’ve just viewed your post . I feel I’ve been on a spiral for a long time everyday I feel I need something to look forward too . I wake up depressed and go to bed depressed . Everything I do I obsess with like training constantly trying to change myself and I don’t know why . I’m lucky I’ve got the wife I have but I feel I’m drifting away . Things need to change for me and soon, I need inspiration . I just hope I can change thanks for listening

    Reply
  38. Peter – Depression by definition depresses the senses including pleasure, so I know how you feel. It’s a natural symptom. Just keep taking deep breaths and working your way through it. Mindfulness exercises can be extremely helpful in this time to start feeling again.

    No, I didn’t refuse to take depression meds, actually. I’m not of the philosophy that meds are bad all the time. I think that they can be very helpful in times of transition for many people. I understand where you’re coming from, though. As long as you’re doing what works for you, that’s what matters!

    Ricky – you CAN change. It won’t be a miracle overnight change. It never is. But it will get better. You will experience happiness again. Breathe into the moments as they come. Make excuses for adventures! Schedule something to look forward to! I wish you so much luck as you write your story. :)

    Reply
  39. Amy, thank you so much for your post. I also love that you still respond to comments much later. I have felt depressed before and was medicated for it, after awhile I did feel better so I stopped taking the medication. Though, I did feel better I still never felt happy. More recently things have become worse. I had a horrible anxiety attack today and it eventually led me to this blog. Everything you said is very inspiring. I have felt better through exercise and positive thinking but my depression has come back now and it’s worse than before. I really want to move forward because I know I can make this change. But I don’t know how to go about it since the first time that i felt like this my relief was only temporary. I feel like no matter what I do it won’t matter because it will always be back. I have even been slacking on my exercise due to the fact I’m so down and tired. I look forward to your advice and thank you so much

    Reply
    • I know EXACTLY how you feel, Deanna. I still have that feeling sometimes when depression starts to surface again.

      “Oh know, it’s back. I should have known not to talk about it. Now my whole story will be a lie.”

      Then, I remember: I’m stronger than that. I know what to do when it comes around, and so all I need to do is TAKE ACTION. That is the one step that separates me now from my old self.

      The first thing I would say to you is to definitely see a therapist you trust, and who you feel understands you. Talking to them and setting an action plan is going to be crucial to your long-term recovery.

      Next, I would say to refuse to give in. Just refuse to let depression win. You know the saying, “where there’s a will, there’s a way?” I believe that this is true. It won’t be the end all, be all, but it will help when the process gets difficult.

      I really hope that helps, Deanna. You’ll beat this. Just stay focused and keep DOING! :)

      Reply
  40. I am a 20 years old Bangladeshi girl. I had suffered from depression for several years. I took a long time to realize that I am depressed. But 1 year ago I went to a doctor and took treatment. Now I have recovered almost. But still now I can’t focus on my work or study. I think now I am not as smart as before. My memory is also being weak. When I take antidepressant I feel too much sleepy. I don’t want to be dependent on medicine. Can you tell me how can I regain my mental power and don’t have a recurrence of depression.

    Reply
    • Hi Mou,

      Memory loss is unfortunately a side effect of extreme stress (like depression). Lack of focus can be one as well. It could also be due to the meds you’re on. It’s worth talking to your doctor about- he/she may be able to work with you about the amount and kind of meds you’re on. Unfortunately, I don’t feel qualified to advise you on that matter as it’s different from person to person. Your doctor should be receptive to changing it up, though!

      Reply
  41. Beautifully said!!

    Reply

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