October 10 is World Mental Health Day and Marina Diamandis has penned a powerful essay about her struggles with depression.
"I lived most of my life feeling like there was something deeply wrong with me," the singer-songwriter writes. "Everything I did was somehow geared towards fixing the parts of myself I thought were bad or 'broken.' There was also an odd safety in being broken."
"Whatever your problems may be, (diagnosed or not), they don’t equate to you being broken," Diamandis continues. "In my own life, it’s been unhelpful to think of mental health problems in this way, particularly when you’re struggling. You are who you are at this moment in time, and you’re doing your best. Brains are plastic. People can, and do, change."
After assuring readers that they're not alone and have nothing to be ashamed of, Diamandis proceeds to share three coping methods that have helped with her depression: Meditation, exercise, and identifying with thoughts.
Although meditation and exercise sound pretty straightforward, she elaborates on what exactly "identifying with thoughts" entails: "The reality is, I still deal with depression, but my reaction to it is different. I am more aware of its mechanisms so I don’t take my thoughts as seriously. I try not to identify with a thought and interpret it as truth just because it came into my mind," Diamandis explains. "Why? Because the way I think and respond to events is largely based on my past experiences, so how can I know that my thoughts are my own and not coloured by my past? This is why I don’t always trust my thoughts, particularly when they are of the negative variety."
In conclusion, she sends a powerful and inspiring message about living with depression: "Our culture has taught us to see happiness as some kind of end goal, but for me, the best thing about it is that it doesn’t stick around forever. Human beings need to experience some level of suffering in order to evolve emotionally and consciously," Diamandis explains. "And though depression often feels like you’re stuck, or stagnating, it can also be a healthy way of your mind telling you that something isn’t quite right, and that it’s in the process of changing. We tend to view sadness as something unnatural, or negative, but perhaps viewing it as a necessary process might help us accept the low periods, and move through them more easily."
According to the World Health Organization, over 300 million people suffer from depression and 260 million live with anxiety disorders. For individuals struggling with any mental illness, Diamandis' essay is a powerful reminder to be patient with ourselves, find healthy coping mechanisms, and to never feel ashamed of our illnesses.
If you are experiencing depression and need support, please call the National Depressive/Manic-Depressive Association Hotline at 1-800-826-3632 or the Crisis Call Center’s 24-hour hotline at 1-775-784-8090.