Drifting Along (the healing phase)
Once you’ve broken through the surface and can breathe, it’s time to find a life raft that you can grab onto for rest. It’s too exhausting to tread water on your own. You need something to lean on. Don’t make plans to find the shore yet. Just rest.
Actually, if there is only one piece of advice that I can impart to you from this whole knowledge section of the website, it would be to treat mental illness like you would a physical injury. Some aspects of depression may start in your mind, but they have spilled over into the physical. It’s no longer merely a matter of changing the way someone thinks. If an athlete over trains and happens to pull or tear a muscle, you can’t merely tell them to stretch better next time and take more breaks. Nor can you simply correct their form and expect them to be better the next day. Something physically happened, and they need to rest first. Once their body has recovered they can try to improve their form so that it doesn't happen again.
In the same way, all the advice in the world isn’t very helpful if you first don’t spend some time healing. You won’t be strong enough to implement it and can actually keep hurting yourself and having setbacks if you try to. Dr. Daniel Amen, in his book Change Your Brain, Change Your Life, says that when he does brain scans on people he knows there are issues when he sees regions of over activity. People don’t get depression because they’re not trying hard enough but rather because they’re running too fast internally and their mind and body are exhausted.
Now there were probably a lot of hands trying to help you through the emergency phase as you reached out, but you may not have really connected with all of them or gotten the sense that everyone was willing to be involved for the long haul. That’s perfectly fine by the way. Not everyone will have the ability, time, or connection to continue helping, but hopefully you got the sense from one person, or maybe a few people, that they are willing to further stay the course with you. They are that family member that keeps checking on you or that small group that you really felt welcomed at. Open up further to these people and accept their love and help. They can be the life raft that you can lean on that allows you to just rest.