How do you advocate for yourself, with your friendships, at work, with family, medical professionals, etc.?
Advocating for yourself does not mean, telling everyone everything about your personal struggle with depression and/or anxiety and attempting to explain it to them. One of the most important things you can do for yourself is develop boundaries. I would strongly recommend Boundaries by Henry Cloud. Great book! (I probably could use a refresher course myself). Find those few trusted people you can confide in about your battle and be grateful, be grateful that you have a few people who you can share this with, and by few I mean less than five. It could be even one or two. Your personal battles are personal, you decide who gets to know the deepest parts of you and your struggles.
Understand that depression and anxiety aren’t just mental, they are physical. So many times we go to the doctor for physical symptoms and in reality we aren’t looking at the source of the physical. We have lost the ability to recognize that the two are interwoven, and connected. One absolutely affects the other. In the day and age of specialties we no longer have anyone looking at the whole body. Our doctors want to look at all physical problems having a physical solution, instead of the possibility of a mental one. Unfortunately the solution seems to always be a pill as well. Why do we forget about the brain? The brain is the most powerful organ in our body and effects every aspect of our life. It effects how we look at the world, it engages every aspect of our body. So let’s pay attention to this a little more. Be quick to remind your doctor that you are struggling with depression or anxiety, could any of your physical symptoms be a result of anxiety? Things like IBS, inflammation, bloating, joint pain, back pain, etc., From now on everything should be seen through the lens of depression/anxiety. That’s not to say it should be your only focus, but that should always be in the back of the doctor’s mind and it’s up to you to remind them.
With your family, set some boundaries, expectations, and be realistic. When you’re depressed you’re not running at your full capacity. You will NOT be able to do everything you do when you are well. That’s OK, its’ a season. You will soon be past this season and will embark on a new healthier way of living with a new capacity. Don’t be disheartened by this, don’t compare yourself, to others, you aren’t like everyone else and that’s awesome! Most people go through this life with the inability to understand truly who they are, what their passion is and how they do life best. I hope to equip you to be able to do those things for yourself. You can own who you are and be confident in it. We all desire to be originals and at the same time fit in. I have long viewed myself as a square peg in a round world. That used to bother me, but now I secretly love it. There are days I don’t, and I can feel defeated, but I know who I am, and that is powerful.