My body lay still as a doll as I dully gazed at the clock on my desk. My slow, sad, depressing music reverberated and echoed off the walls in my bedroom.
I could not sleep. I did not want to get up, move, or feel anything at all. These long restless nights had become quite ordinary…
My whole life had been shaken up in the last month. I’d just been released from an intensive rehab center after getting hit by a car while pushing my broken down car on the freeway. I had no recollection of the event or even the month prior…
Apparently, a buddy of mine who was helping me push my car was flung 30 feet in the air and received an incomplete spinal cord injury. My body was launched 20 feet across the paved road. I had broken my jaw, nose, collarbone and I sustained a serious traumatic brain injury.
The brain injury ruined my memory. I would have the same conversations with my friends, and would simply not retrieve events or things I had recently finished. I could not even recall what I had done the day prior.
I was a 20-year-old college student… and I could not remember what I did the day before. My memory was abysmal. How was I supposed to complete college? Find a job after? Be remotely successful?
I had sunk into a deep depression. I constantly sulked in my misery, worried about my friend’s health and bothered about my future.
I curled up into a ball, pulled my covers over my head, closed my eyes, and hoped for a better tomorrow.
Overcoming My Deep Depression
This was a melancholic time in my life.
Now, looking back 5 years later, I am amazed at how much I have progressed mentally. Getting through this rut was such a rigorous task. It seemed like the sadness would never end but here I am today – emotionally healthy.
How was I able to recover from such a distressing time in my life?
Well, I’ll tell you. Here is how I overcame this deep depression after I got hit by a car on the freeway.
1) I Checked Myself Into Therapy
After many weeks of sulking in my agony, I decided that I needed professional help. I checked myself into a local therapy clinic. In my first session, I cried my eyes out. My family and friends were all happy that I was alive and relatively healthy, so it was hard to talk to them about the internal struggles of my abysmal memory.
My therapist offered me a listening ear. It was relieving just to have someone that I could open myself up entirely to. To get everything off my chest. My therapist would simply listen, take notes and ask thought-provoking questions here and there. Having a professional offer you insights or opinions that you may not see for yourself is a powerful tool. Whenever I would find myself sliding down a catastrophic slide of negative thoughts, my therapist would stop me and really have me question if my thoughts were valid.
This caused me to question the validity of my thoughts. When I started to do this, I began to realize a lot of my depressive thoughts had no truth to them! This, in turn, pushed me to be emotionally healthier.
If you are struggling with depression and are debating about getting professional help—get help. Therapists and psychologists are akin to doctors but for your mind. They will listen, identify your dysfunctional thoughts and then suggest different points of views or perspectives.
I know there is a stigma that therapy is expensive and unaffordable, however, there are some budget or even free options. Certain insurance plans cover some therapy sessions, colleges offer really affordable therapy sessions and there are government programs which will give you free therapy sessions depending on which state you are in.
2) Took Care of Myself
I was in pretty good shape from wrestling in high school for 4 years prior to the accident. After the car accident, I had lost 15 pounds, was diagnosed with gait instability (could not even walk straight without losing balance and falling over!) and suffered from an elbow plus knee injury.
It was a change in perspective when my only goal for the day would be to take 2 steps without falling over! At the intensive rehab center, after a lot of extraordinary physical therapy, I overcame my gait instability and rehabbed my knee and elbow.
Even though I felt really sad or depressed, I promised myself to hit the gym or exercise every day—no matter how I felt. This proved to be extremely helpful to my mental health because I was getting my body moving. Walking around the block every day and lifting weights became my daily routine.
Sure, when I felt really sad or depressed, laying down would be pleasurable. However, usually afterwards, I would feel worse about myself. Exercising on the other hand, had immense benefits for my emotional health. My body would naturally feel better after each workout or exercise routine.
Regular exercise has been proven to help ease anxiety and depression by releasing natural brain chemicals and endorphins that help you relax or make you feel good. I would highly recommend implementing the daily habit of exercise if you are in a rut or depressive state. You will become healthier both mentally and physically.
3) Set Some Goals
Just as exercising helped me keep moving, setting and working towards some goals made me feel a lot better because it felt like I was moving forward.
Setting small fitness goals, or small daily habit goals helped a lot with getting my mind off things. I would turn my focus on developing the daily habits to accomplish my goals instead of moping around the house feeling down. When setting goals, I made sure they were bite-sized goals that I could accomplish and build on. For example, one of my small goals was getting better sleep. I would be in bed early and not be on my phone too late at night. This helped with my traumatic brain injury symptoms and it was pretty easy to do.
Slowly but surely as time went on, I started to feel better because I felt like I was progressing towards something and it made me feel better. A side effect of working towards something and seeing progress is improved motivation. I became more motivated the more I started to see results or progress in my fitness or various other goals. The improved intrinsic drive often made me want to execute the steps to achieve my goals even more.
If you are feeling really depressed, setting some goals and working towards them may take your mind off things. Don’t stress out too much about setting and accomplishing goals, but instead, set goals with only the intention to slowly work towards something you want.
Slowly accomplishing goals or working towards something you believe in will help restore some confidence in yourself and improve your mental health.
Learning From Such a Traumatic Experience!
Going through this depression was an arduous journey, however, I am really grateful to have gone through it. Going through this has gifted me with the mental fortitude to push through tough times or negative depressive states.
I hope that if you are going through a rough period in your life where you have feelings of hopelessness, despondency, and dejection, you can use my tips on how I got out of my rut to hopefully improve your mental health.
I know what it is like to feel like the begrudging sadness will never end but if you are positive and stick to improving your emotional state, you will make it out of there. I am absolutely sure of it 🙂Author Bio: Brandon Leuangpaseuth is a writer from San Diego, CA that helps various DUI attorneys across the country with their public relations. You can connect with him on LinkedIn @bleuangpaseuth.
The opinions and views expressed in this guest blog do not necessarily reflect those of www.rtor.org or its sponsor, Laurel House, Inc. The author and www.rtor.org have no affiliations with any products or services mentioned in this article or linked to herein.
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