ifIknew is a health initiative for young adults that uses a multi media approach, including social media and in person programs, to address the contemporary issues that impact the well-being, self-image, careers, and relationships of people in their 20's and 30's.

If I Knew is a prevention education project that raises awareness about risky behaviors that can profoundly impact lives.

Seven ways depression doesn’t have to run your life

It’s been more than a decade since I was finally able to reach out and get help for my depression. I found a medication that helped me gain stability, and I decided to give therapy a shot.  I’ve never been good at asking for help, however the support and guidance I got from my parents was really helpful in the initial years when I was still trying to find my emotional footing.  Both of them struggled with depression and had some great insights for me.  Here are some things that really helped me during that confusing time:

  1. Be brave and get help.  It can seem daunting to reach out and ask for help; sometimes you even need to ask more than once if the first time doesn’t work out.  Your feelings are legitimate and you deserve the help that’s out there.  Don’t forget that you’re worth the effort—even if you don’t feel like it right now.
  2. Don’t expect perfection. Accept that even after getting help you’re going to slip up and have depressed episodes.  This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t fight it because fighting your depression is something you should always do.  The natural inclination is to beat yourself up when you realize depression snuck into your passenger seat, but that only helps prolong the episode.  Accept that depression snuck in and then work on kicking it out, not on kicking yourself.
  3. Don’t be fooled. Remember that depression is never your friend; being depressed can feel comfortable.  It can feel natural and safe and it helps you avoid the feeling of failing at things you try to do.  When your depression tries to lull you into putting off the things you want to do, remember that depression will never lead you in the right direction
  4. Take care of yourself mentally. Forgive yourself if you make mistakes.  Don’t verbalizethose harmful depressed-person thoughts about you being a horrible person—you’re not horrible.  You wouldn’t let someone say those things about your best friend, so don’t say them to yourself.  Don’t get upset if you realize you fell back into depression for a little while, just focus on overcoming this cycle and getting back to being happy.
  5. Take care of yourself physically. To a depressed person, eating in an unhealthy way (including overeating unhealthy foods or not eating at all) can sometimes feel like the right thing to do, but it’s important that you pay close attention to your diet.  Eating more healthily can actually help alleviate depression. Additionally, exercise can be a great tool to help overcome depression because it releases “feel good” chemicals in your brain, gives you energy, and has the potential to make you feel accomplished all at the same time.  Even if you don’t normally exercise, moments where you’re trying to overcome depression can be a great time to give it a try. Then remember to forgive yourself if you slip up.
  6. Check out the resources available, like the ones listed right here on ifiknew.org.  Under the “Get Help” header click on the link for “Stress & Emotional Health Resources.”
  7. Lastly, remember that you’re not alone and that there is (a lot of) hope!

Depression is not an unbeatable fight.  Millions of people effectively manage their depression every day and many are able to forget it’s even an issue.  Some days can be harder than others, but that’s why having the help of a professional can be so crucial.  Managing depression requires some work, some soul-searching, and some honesty with yourself, but almost anyone can do it if only you’re ready to give it a good try.  Overcome that inertia and give it a shot—and don’t forget to be kind to yourself in the process!

Chris M, guest blogger