What to Do After You've Been Diagnosed With Depression
Being diagnosed with depression at 20 years old was one of the most terrifying things to happen to me.
Though it had felt like a long time coming and like some light had finally been shed on why I felt the way I did, it was all too real. I had no idea what to do or who to turn to, which caused me to feel even more lost after my diagnosis.
Rather than reaching out to my friends, family members, doctor, therapist, or any other trustworthy individual, I turned to the internet for advice. Some of it was helpful, but most of it was not. Hence why I decided to write this piece today.
For those of you who've recently been diagnosed with depression, below are a few things you should definitely do—and plenty of things I wish I had done.
Know This Isn't the End
Even though I spent most of my life believing I had depression, finally seeing it realized via a proper diagnosis was unsettling to say the least. I was partially disgusted with myself and wasn't sure how I could ever bounce back.
I know now that having those feelings is normal, but I wish I didn't let them prevent me from getting the treatment I so desperately needed. Rather than moving forward with therapy or meds, I fought back and refused to do either. It wasn't until years later that I finally did something about my depression, but I wish I had followed through sooner.
Your diagnosis is not the end of it all, remember that.
Talk to Your Doctor
Right after your doctor tells you, you have depression, ask questions. You might not be able to come up with any on the spot, but don't hesitate to call them and ask them after your visit. Know about your treatment options, so you can figure out the best route for you to take. See if they can recommend a therapist. Whatever question you want to ask, do it. There really is no such thing as a stupid question, especially in this case.
Do Your Own Research
I know I turned to the world wide web to help me and that didn't pan out too well, but I did learn some valuable information about how to deal with my depression on the daily. I found sites like To Write Love on Her Arms and Hope for a Day that provided me with a ton of different resources about dealing with the mental illness.
I also looked up some free hotline numbers that I quickly programmed into my phone in case of emergency.
And while your doctor will go over the best treatment options, you can still do your own research. If you don't want to take medication or aren't ready to speak with a therapist, see what other alternatives are out there. Then bring your findings to your doctor and see if they can help you.
Be Open to Asking for Help
One of the reasons I personally found my depression diagnosis so difficult to handle, is because I'm not one to ask for help. I'm too proud to do that, so I tend to do everything on my own. I'm more than willing to help others, but not myself.
This made it all the more difficult to turn to my friends and family members during this dark time in my life. I didn't want them to see me as weak or needy, so I avoided them like the plague.
In hindsight, that was not the best thing to do. Many of my closest friends were more than willing to offer their help, but I refused to take it.
After you receive your diagnosis, ask for help. It might be tough at first like it was for me, but don't let it stop you. Everybody needs it.
Don't Give Up on Yourself
I gave up when I was diagnosed. I didn't want to do anything, nor did I accept help from anyone. Eventually, I clawed my way out of the darkness and into the light. But I often wonder how much quicker I would've gotten better had I not given up on myself.
These next few days, weeks, months, even years are going to suck—there's no way around it. But the most important thing is for you to push yourself, even when all you want to do is sleep the pain away.
Don't let your depression get the best of you.