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About five years ago, I was diagnosed with depression. A major depressive disorder, to be more specific.
Not fun at all. In fact, it was quite depressing.
And don’t get me started with the judgment and the shame, both self-imposed and freely inflicted by society.
Nobody likes to be diagnosed with depression. But for me? A yoga teacher? Really?
I wish I could tell you that it was like having a boo-boo that mommy could fix with a kiss.
Sadly, it is more like Sigourney Weaver’s sci-fi movie, “Alien.”
Until this day, I experienced several relapses, some were worse than others. Some required patience and love, some required intervention from friends and family, and some required hospitalization.
Here are some signs of depression that I recognize when I am approaching a relapse:
1. Feeling antisocial
I am not the most outgoing person in the world, but my work helps me to socialize.
I teach yoga classes, I teach yoga teacher trainings, I host international retreats, and I run a nonprofit foundation. I can’t escape the fact that I need to talk to people, meet people. I know that I might start to feel depressed when I begin to avoid phone calls and Zoom meetings, and believe it or not, I wear sunglasses to avoid eye contact. There is zero interest in connecting to humans.
2. Napping a ton
For me, I feel that the highlight of my day is when I nap. That is when I check out from the world.
Napping is all I can afford to do when I feel depressed. It is not necessarily a restorative type of nap but more like “take me out of here” kind of nap, or let me “crash and nap.” It is manifested in an abundance of naps and a difficulty with starting my day and activities. A fascination with my couch and a passionate affair with Netflix.
3. Losing patience and motivation
Because your ability to be “functional” gets affected, you run on empty.
I become easily irritable. Sharp on my answers. And I lose the motivation to do anything that gives me pleasure. Yeah, including that. Stress becomes stressful, if that is even possible. You lose patience with everyone, including your lovely pet. Everything bothers you, including yourself. And if you’ve been down this road before, it is upsetting how we get fooled into thinking that what we are going through is a product of something else, and not depression itself.
4. Feeling like a worthless piece of sh*t
This is a hard one to admit, particularly if you are a driven, goal-oriented person like me. A person who loves challenges and has a healthy amount of ambition and expectation on how to live his life.
In every episode I had, I felt like a worthless piece of you know what. It gets me each time. Sometimes we realize what we are feeling but we can’t see it in the right context. It is surprising how depression affects your mental state. There is nothing that you can do that can be of any good. You believe that you are not worthy of anything and you deserve absolutely nothing. Not even of getting better.
5. Wanting a way out
Life is a gift. And life is beautiful. But in some severe cases of depression, suicidal thoughts are real.
You feel that your work on this planet is done, and, in fact, the planet might be better without you. This is something that, for me, has been difficult to understand because of the path I chose to live: immersed in yoga, mindfulness, and helping others. It took me a long time to understand that it is exactly because I experience all of those signs in my life that I was able to turn things around and be more vocal about it and to help others. Particularly when it comes to those who might be experiencing suicidal thoughts.
Whenever I see a sign, a Facebook post, or something that makes me doubt if someone is doing well in their life, I always reach out and ask if they need help; if they could benefit from talking to me, and I let them know how much they mean to me. In my experience, you can’t emphasize this enough. Expressing love and care never hurts.
I am not a doctor. I am not a therapist. But I still wanted to share this with everyone because you never know what someone else is going through. They might be a functional, depressed person like me, and you might not even know it. But you might be able to pick some of these signs and, with kindness, show some interest and open a door for communication and support.
If you are experiencing depression or any mental health challenges, remember there is always help. Remember that you have brighter days ahead, even if today is a rainy day.
Ask for help. Reach out for help, even if it’s the most challenging thing you would ever have to do.
If you don’t have a friend or family, there are numbers that we can call.
I can reassure you that the world can be a lovely place to be. We need you here.
If you are experiencing mental health challenges or suicidal thoughts, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline on 800-273-8255.