1.) Most folks don’t know how to deal with depression. Saying “I’m depressed” incites panic, glazed over eyes, or the launch of a defence mode like it’s contagious or something. Some will try to understand you, and others will not. Many will judge or scorn you for being depressed; a few may even go as far as calling you weak or saying you have nothing to be depressed about. Forget what the punks have to say; focus on your truth and finding the best path to healing. 2.) Everything you suppress will eventually burst forth in a tsunami of tears and emotions. Let yourself feel in the moment and get mad if you have to. Your anger will only corrode your soul if you sweep it under the rug. Scream, break a few plates if it’ll help, but don’t get locked in the pattern of flaring up for the fuck of it. DO NOT send any stinkers written in the pit of your anger; you WILL regret it once the red mist clears from your vision. Trust me on this; I’ve fallen into that trap (twice!) and I still cringe whenever I remember. Also let yourself feel any pain or disappointment you’ve repressed over the years; they have a way of morphing into crazy awful tension that snaps in your skin and turns your bones to stone. I’ve literally crashed to the floor, screamed myself hoarse + torn my vocal cords, and gone into full-body spasms because I wouldn’t let myself feel what I needed to. Every negative emotion gets worse the longer you hold it back; just let them roll through you when they’re fresh so you don’t have to suffer more further down the road. 3.) Find a way to express your fear. Get it off your back out of the dark and into the light. Naming your fear frees you to work through it and truly live in spite of it. Keeping it locked inside cripples your bravery and capacity for life. You are meant for so much more than cowering in the dark corners of your soul. Step into your courage and strength. Yes, it’ll be difficult. No, it’s not impossible. 4.) You will lose some of your oldest friends due to the crises. Try not to take it personally. Remember that those who aren’t in the trenches with you find it really hard to understand what you’re going through. It’ll hurt like a motherfucker that your friends can’t or won’t cope, but you’ll survive the heartbreak. See #1. Plus, you’ll make new lifelong friends who love and accept you, flaws and all. Oo-rah. 5.) You’ll come so close to giving up and letting the listless, numb parts win. Reach out when you can’t remember why life’s worth living. Get second and third opinions from those who won’t feed your fears but will keep it real with you. Other people often see the beauty we’re so quick to dismiss in ourselves; let your right people light your spark when you’re deep in the doldrums. I have a circle of sisters and girlfriends I go to when I feel myself slipping under the shadow of my past depression; they keep me focused on moving forward and not letting the bastard gemlins grind me down. 6.) Therapy and medication may save your life, but only you can really heal your soul. Forgive yourself for the past, make peace with your mistakes, and let go of everyone who’s ever hurt you. You’ll fight against this tooth and nail until you discover that all that venom’s eating into nobody’s heart but your own. Forgiving all grudges will make you whole in a way that no therapist or anti-depressant can. Do the inner work necessary to get to this stage; it’s worth the pain and heavy shifting. At some point you’ll have to stop depending on external means to feel good or get by. You’ll have to take your life in your hands and use the power of your heart to live and love again outside the shadows of fear and depression. I came to that point March 22nd, 2013. I’m happy to report I’m still creating a lifestyle that deepens my joy from the inside out. 7.) Keep a journal of your deepest thoughts, mood swings, sudden crying jags, and bone-deep loneliness. Burn them afterwards if you have to, but get into the habit of expressing your thoughts and admitting what you feel. There really isn’t a right or wrong way to do this; there’s only making yourself wrong for what you feel, and that shit doesn’t help. Quit taking potshots at yourself. Bleed your truth on the page. You can only write about the same things for so long before you decide to deal with them and make space for new experiences, anyway. You can’t start to heal until you get them out of your head, though. Get going already. 8.) Be gentle with your soul. Know who you are and if you like yourself or not. Actually liking yourself makes life a whole lot more enjoyable, both for you and everyone else in your space. Like turns to respect, respect turns to acceptance, and acceptance turns to love. More or less, anyway. It took me many hours of journalling before I realised I didn’t even like or love myself at all. I thought I did, but my actions showed otherwise. My mind was full of criticising self-talk, shame over past mistakes, and the deep-rooted belief that I’d never be whole again. My deep healing started for real when I decided to get to know myself and begin a fresh page every single day of my life. Sometimes I stumble and sometimes I lose, but I’m living a heck of a lot more now that I’m conscious of who I am and how I feel about myself. What will it take to like and accept yourself just as you are? 9.) Ease up on life. You of all people know how easy it is to fall to pieces under pressure. No you don’t have to know every little thing in advance, and yes you can let go of the need for total control. It’s all an illusion, anyway, and obsessive planning can only take you so far. What happens when you don’t have a road map for something that shakes you to the very foundations of your being? Breathe deep and adjust as you go along; anything else might lead you straight to a clusterfuck. Yes, I speak from experience. You could choose to fall apart or zone out from life, but you’d still have to come right back to where you were before you checked out. It’s easy to lose years this way, folks; months and months of time swallowed by fear and hiding your head in the sand. Cease and desist. 10.) Define yourself by the joys of living in the present, not the horrors of living in the past. Staying locked in destructive loops robs you of the sheer thrill of being alive and brimming with possibility + emotion. Honour your past. Learn from it. Let yourself experience life as it unfolds, not as you’ve known it to be. What would you add to this list?