Transition out of a deep depression

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    I have always had depression but it was something that I could manage and often hide below the surface. Last year I moved abroad to work as an english teaching assistant thinking it would be the adventure of a lifetime. Unfortunately, it proved to be quite the opposite and I found myself in the deepest depression I had ever been in. I pretty much completely isolated myself from all of my friends and stopped responding to their text messages. I didn’t care about my physical health or looks. I should have moved back home sooner, but I didn’t want to feel like I gave up and I wanted to show that I could see my work contract out. I ended up quitting halfway through my program but still carried a lot of the depression I had felt back home. Now I am in a place where I so strongly want to move out of this depression but I feel like I am not sure who I am anymore or what value I have. It’s hard to reach out to friends because I feel like I have hurt so many of them and the ones I do talk to, I worry about how much I might have changed since they last knew me when I didn’t have the depression.

    If anyone has any words of advice for how to move out of depression and how to reestablish yourself as the person you were before I would love to read it!

    Thank you for your time.


    Dear Katie:

    You shared that you “always had depression.. often hide it below the surface”. A year ago you moved abroad hoping to have “the adventure of a lifetime” abroad, but found yourself instead in “the deepest depression I had ever been in”, isolated, careless about your physical health and looks. You then quit halfway through the job abroad and moved back home.

    My input: the depression you always had, you were not born with it. Your depression was formed during your childhood because of the life circumstances of your childhood. For whatever reasons, your parent or parents left you alone for too long, emotionally if not physically.

    Your experience of being home alone for too long, alone with fear, alone with sadness, alone with desire to do this or that, but no one to show you the way… that experience of childhood became your experience anywhere you are, as an adult. I am guessing you felt not so bad at home before the travel abroad because you were adjusted best possible to your home of origin, made the best out of a bad situation. When you moved abroad, you were in a new situation for which you were not adjusted, and therefore your depression worsened.

    If you let me know what you think of what I wrote so far, we can communicate further.



    Hi Katie

    Now I am in a place where I so strongly want to move out of this depression but I feel like I am not sure who I am anymore

    The thought that came to my mind when I read that was a question I’ve asked myself when feeling/thinking the same way. Who would I be without this depression? The feeling being that in some perverse way I had attached my senses of self to this experience of depression. The truth being that depression provided a kind of safety net, even a odd comfort, a excuse to remain as I was/am..

    My experience of depression has always been rooted in existential angst. Unskillful dwelling on meaning, purpose, loneliness. Eventually I suspect their is a tipping point where the body reacts and depression becomes chemical. Reading your post Its not clear where you are on the scale. A bit of both perhaps, each feeding the other? Have you ever talked to someone about your depression? Medication could help and give you the space to deal with the question of who you are.

    I wish you all the best… you are not your depression, you experience depression…




    Hey Katie. I’m so sorry to hear that you are struggling. I’ve recently transitioned out of a deep depression myself that stemmed from similar circumstances (I went abroad to work on a master’s degree, fell into a depression that continued for six months after I got home, so probably a year of major depressive episodes, though I’ve struggled through it in the past, like you).

    First of all, if you haven’t considered therapy, please do. As soon as I returned to my home country I booked an appointment with my therapist. I see him monthly and it really helps me put things into perspective.

    Like you, I also stopped caring for myself physically and talking to my friends. I felt like a failure for various things – mistakes I’d made over the last year, etc. I felt very worthless. Worse than I ever had in my entire life.

    I was waiting for my depression to simply end, but I knew it wouldn’t without my own intervention for my well-being. So I started small. I would promise to brush my teeth once a day. I’d shower every other day. I’d try to wake up fifteen minutes earlier. I’d text back one friend. Then I gradually added good things. Eventually these habits became routine and the more I did them, the better I felt.

    Regarding friendship – reach out to your closest friends first. Apologize if you feel you need to. Explain. Ask for help. Tell them what you need. They can help. Depression always seems bigger alone.

    Finally, try to forgive yourself and not feel shame for your experience. This is so difficult to do, but you deserve it. I try to think of how I would treat a friend or a child and try to treat myself that way. Read Pema Chodron for lessons in self-compassion. She truly helped me. Watch Eckhart  Tolle on You Tube. My therapist turned me on to both and they’ve been great. Spend time doing things you love. And give yourself time – don’t forget to love the person you are now, even if it’s hard. You deserve that love and you need it. You will get through this. Sending big hugs.

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