You are not alone.

Turning 16 marked an onslaught of my darkest days to come. I thought it would never end - that I would feel this way forever.

Now, almost four years later, I know that while depression is not curable and there is no way to just "get over it," there are little things you can do to make it through the pain.

Like I said - it's almost four years later. I still have my rough patches, but I no longer feel as though I am in this dark tunnel with no light at the end. I still have a ways to go before the tunnel is completely behind me - and maybe it will never fully be - but now there are breaks in the tunnel, there are full days where I get to bask in the light.

It does get better. You are not alone. You are loved. You do not have to be happy. You are allowed to feel whatever you are feeling.

But there are ways to soften the suffering, and here are some I found helpful:

1. Be With Someone - You don't have to talk. You don't have to explain. You can just sit in silence and cry, or watch your favorite show. But when your thoughts are telling you nobody loves you, or likes you, the best way to combat that is to be with someone who loves/likes you! There's a plethora to choose from - and you'll be surprised how much this actually helps.

2. Lay in the sunshine. - Or sit. Or walk. Or open your blinds and let the air from outside flow into your room. Whatever you're ready for - but getting out of your room or house can take you out of a negative space for a while. The sunshine will warm you inside out. There's nothing like the feeling of golden sunlight on your skin.

3. Write it down. - Write out what you're feeling, why you feel this way, and whatever else comes to mind. I suggest writing your feelings as if you're trying to explain them to a friend, and in doing this you are able to explain this to yourself - which is important when you're ready to talk it out with someone, or even just to be able to differ between what is the depression talking and intensifying versus what is actually going.

4. Talk to someone. - This is not easy and might take time. It can feel awkward and uncomfortable, but it can make lasting, positive changes in your journey. It doesn't have to be a therapist, but I do think they can really help. I found it better to start with the people closest to me - my parents, my friends - before becoming comfortable enough to talk to anyone else about it.

Be honest. It's very hard to open up, but nobody else is going to understand what you're going through or what's triggering you if they don't know. People are not mind readers. Communication is very important, especially when going through something so challenging.

Be patient with the people around you and ask them to be patient with you. If you don't feel like you have anyone to talk to, you can always reach out to a counselor at school, or speak with your doctor about finding a personal therapist. If you need someone to talk to right now - my messages are always open.

5. Shake yo booty. - You're rolling your eyes but I'm serious. On the hardest days I'll come home, turn on an upbeat playlist and pretend I'm in one of those rom-com movies that begins with the main character singing into her hairbrush. Sometimes, you just gotta dance it out. Don't feel weird about it. Get lost in your favorite tunes until your heart is pounding and your forehead is all sweaty. It helps. I promise.

6. Take a bath. - Put in some bath foam - maybe something with lavender or a soft scent, and turn the lights off. Light a few candles, put on some soft, calming - but not sad - music, or maybe your favorite movie! Pamper yourself and breathe.

7. Yoga. - A little stretching, some breath practice will clear your mind, stretch our you body, and put it all at ease. Stepping away from the pain, frustration, or just numbness, can help you get clarity, distance and lift the weight of all these emotions off your shoulders.

8. Read something inspiring. - Do not get on Tumblr and scroll through sad posts meant to make you sadder. You can't deal with this when you give in. You are so strong. It is okay to not feel like smiling. It is okay to cry. But don't make it unnecessarily harder for yourself if you can avoid it. I like to scroll through my favorite quotes here on WHI, or on Pinterest.

9. Let time heal your pain. - It is not a lie that time heals everything. This storm will pass. It's winter now but it will get warm again. You will be so surprised at all the good things life will give you. You will have bad times too, but the good times will just get better and better. Getting through it is the hardest part.

I will leave you with a personal favorite quote:

"for the highs and the lows and moments between, mountains and valleys, and rivers and streams, for where you are now and where you will go. for 'i've always known' and 'i told you so,' for 'nothing is happening,' and 'all has gone wrong.' it is here in this journey you will learn to be strong. you will get where you're going, landing where you belong."
-morgan harper nichols

If you are struggling, I want you to know that you are not alone. You are worthy, loved, cared for, dreamed about, thought about, cried about, laughed about, way more than you know will ever know. Here's to getting through your journey and becoming your greatest self.

xox,

mads