Originally published on johnpavlovitz.com
Depression is a real bastard.
If it’s ever visited you, you understand.
Such a clever and persuasive liar, it doesn’t require facts to rob you of your hope. You may have all the evidence in the world in front of you that life is beautiful and that you’re doing fine and that there is good reason to be grateful—and it can convince you otherwise.
Depression can mount a case for your despair so seemingly iron-clad, so apparently reasonable, that you find yourself unable to accurately see anymore; your family, your abilities, your marriage, your friendships, your achievements—even the simple joys found in an ordinary day all become invisible.
And when you are in that place of thick blindness, when you are so completely certain that everything has gone to hell, it can be impossible to find a reason to keep going.
Little by little you eventually lose your impetus to stay.
The energy to continue gradually leaves.
Your perseverance departs.
That’s the thing that people who don’t live with depression don’t understand. You aren’t a “suicidal person” wallowing in sadness and contemplating ending your life, as much as you are an exhausted person who has been so drained of hope, that you now believe the lie that your mind tells you that things will never be better. You believe this terrible second is permanent.
There have been many times when I have been close to that place, nearly fooled into fully surrendering to the misery of the moment. I know that there are millions of you out there right now who know this place well, who are standing in the hopelessness as you read these words.
And friend, the only advice I can give you is:
Find one reason to keep living—Right now.
It needn’t be something at all grand or profound or consequential; just the smallest thing to stoke the fires of your heart here and now.
Think of song that never fails to move you and play it—on repeat if you have to.
Watch a movie that always makes you laugh. It will probably make you laugh again.
Go to that place with the fish tacos that knock you out, and order a mess of them.
Visit the woods or the beach, or whatever spot in nature allows you to breathe deeply and slowly—and breathe.
Snuggle a dog, paint a picture, take a drive, call an old friend, take a bath.
Look at the lines upon your fingertips and realize they have never been repeated in the history of the planet.
Lay back in the grass—watch the clouds pass in and out of your peripheral vision and feel the earth turning, and realize it is time moving and propelling your forward.
This is not simply busy work to distract you from your sadness; it is an invitation to a dissenting opinion from the Universe.
Allow Life to come and argue on behalf of itself. Be reminded of the staggering beauty that you are surrounded by, even with the pain it comes with. This won’t erase your sorrow or change your reality or magically fix the things within you that got you here, but it may download just enough lightness into your mind to get you to the most important moment of your life—the next one.
That is the greatest battle with depression: pulling yourself through the present despair, to a place just slightly in the future, where you may be surprised by joy or feel less tired or see something differently. You deserve to experience that place.
Don’t allow that lying bastard to write your story for you.
Right now, in this difficult, unsteady, desperate moment—find one microscopic reason to keep living—and live.
You are loved and worth fighting for.
(PS: If you’re struggling with depression, desire to self-harm, or suicidal thoughts, talk to someone. Help can be found when you reach out to the Mentally Aware Nigeria Initiative (MANI) either on their Twitter, Facebook and Instagram accounts @mentallyawareng, or you call the numbers 08060101157, 08093565520, 08136770508. You are worth fighting for.)