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Recently there has been a push in our society to start breaking the silence on life with depression, pulling back the curtain and helping others to understand the true struggle. As you begin to break free, leaving the darkness and moving towards a happier and healthier life, this can leave you trapped in a misunderstood middle ground.

Over 16.1 million American adults are currently affected by depression, however, many of these people will suffer in silence, unknown to friends and family. They are our friends, family, co-workers, and neighbors, but how much does the average American understand about their journey?

Mental health advocates have taken to social media to break the stigma surrounding mental illness, providing insight into life with depression, however, this overly simplified explanation may actually leave some people feeling more misunderstood than before. Why? For those that are on the journey to recovery, there is a grey area, between depression and happiness, a time of transition. This is a time where you aren’t giving into the darkness, but you’re still not past it. It may not control your life, but it still influences it. It’s a complicated time where those experiencing it first-hand struggle to understand what is happening, let alone finding a way to share how they feel with those around them.

Here are 12 things you wish people knew that you are doing because you are climbing out of a depressive episode:

#1 – You lose yourself in your music.

Music is a universal language, allowing us to express what we are feeling. By strategically choosing your playlist you can also help to influence your emotions, boosting your mood and increasing your chances of maintaining a positive mindset. When things get difficult, a soothing song may be the best medicine.

#2 – You find yourself feeling easily overwhelmed.

Try to remember that you are just coming out of an emotionally dark place, meaning that you are vulnerable. Regardless of how capable you were of handling emotions prior to your depressive episode, you’re likely going to find it far more difficult now and that’s okay! Be patient with yourself, and don’t be afraid to remove yourself from challenging situations. In time you will reach a place where you can handle this better, but the key to that statement is ‘time’.

#3 – You engage in retail therapy.

There is something to be said about the rush that we get when engaging in retail therapy. The act of purchasing something for ourselves triggers the reward center of the brain, which boosts your mood. It’s a temporary fix which will wear off, but that short-term boost may be exactly what you need at the moment.

#4 – You surround yourself with other people.

Following a depressive episode, the last thing that most sufferers want to deal with is being left alone with their own negative self-talk. Instead, to pull yourself out of your head, you may surround yourself with friends and family, people who make you feel happy. Spending time with happy people has been shown to rub off on you, boosting your own mood.

#5 – You may give yourself a mini-makeover.

Depression often leaves us completely disregarding our appearance, even going to the extreme of failing to shower or keep up with personal hygiene. As you start to pull free you will start to feel a little better about yourself and your life, which may inspire you to make this recovery and transformation physical as well as mental. A new haircut, new wardrobe or rediscovering your love of makeup – this is an opportunity to share your newly found positive outlook with the world.

#6 – You become overly organized.

When you are in the middle of a depressive episode it can feel like everything in your life is suddenly out of control. While moving out of this state, it then makes sense that you are trying to pull everything back together, creating order where you once had chaos.  It helps you feel like you have once again taken control of your life.

#7 – You start sharing motivational quotes all over your social media.

We’ve all seen that one person, spamming their Facebook feeds and Instagram accounts with motivational quotes and positive affirmations. While this may look like you’re in a great place to those who don’t know about your personal struggles, the truth is that you aren’t posting this content for everyone else, you’re posting it as a reminder for yourself. When you need that reminder, it’s just a couple clicks away.

#8 – You begin to feel highly sentimental about everything.

Going through this dark time, you likely felt alone and isolated. As you start to pull free, you realize that this isolation was self-imposed. For many, this will lead to sentimental feelings. You may notice you desire to reach out to friends and family, reconnecting and sharing with them just how much they mean to you. You long for love in your life once again, and you appreciate their support.

#9 – You pick up new hobbies or interests.

The process of rewiring your thoughts can be a difficult one, often sabotaged by your own negative thinking. For this reason, many people seek a way to avoid being lost in their thoughts. One way to achieve this is to find new hobbies to keep you busy and focused on something positive. Choosing a creative hobby helps even further, as creativity allows you to express yourself.

#10 – You begin to start making plans for the future.

When you are in the thick of your depression it’s hard to consider anything past just this moment, because you don’t have hope for the future before you. However, as you start to pull free from this struggle and the darkness starts to lift, your whole future is before you just waiting for you to take advantage of it. This may inspire you to start setting goals for your life, working through plans to help you achieve them.

#11 – You notice that your appetite begins to change.

Changes in appetite are often associated with depression. Some people will respond to the negative feelings by indulging in binge eating, trying to eat their feelings away. Meanwhile, others will notice a complete loss of appetite. As you are pulling free from this dark place, your appetite will start to change and normalize. This may not even out immediately, in fact, you may experience yourself yo-yo between the two extremes before settling on a happy medium. Be patient with yourself and stick it out.

#12 – You experience changes in your sleeping habits.

Much like the above-mentioned changes in appetite, depression is known for bringing some drastic sleeping habits. Some people find themselves in bed all day, still exhausted despite constant sleep, while others struggle with insomnia. Overcoming this constant exhaustion is one of the biggest struggles you will face. As you start to rediscover healthy sleeping habits, you are going to notice some changes. They may not all seem positive at the time, but if you stick with it, you can establish healthy sleeping habits in your life.