• Lauren Leopold

7 ways depression actually changed my life for the better

Updated: Feb 13, 2021

The positive and life changing realisations that can come from mental health issues.

Before I start, this post isn’t meant to trivialise depression or any kind of mental health issue in any way. As someone who’s suffered at the hands of the ‘black dog’ I know how completely debilitating it can be. (As someone who who also loves dogs, especially black ones, I’m also not a huge fan of the term ‘black dog’ but that’s a whole other blog post). But what I’ve also realised is that when you eventually come out the other side, you can learn more about yourself and those around you than you ever thought possible and it can actually change your life for the better.

So in a nutshell, I realised I was actually depressed (and not just a moody bitch) when my best friend (and long-suffering flatmate at the time) sat me down and very compassionately told me that if I didn’t try and get help for my depression then I may have to move out. This may sound harsh, but I know now it was the last straw for her and was intended far more as an intervention than a way to make her best mate homeless. Fortunately through the fog, I was able to see that and it thankfully gave me the kick up the ass I needed to finally get help.

You see, up until that night I kept telling myself and those around me that I was ‘fine’. I had a great life — what the hell did I have to be depressed about? I had a successful career, lived with my best mate in an awesome flat in London, had amazing family & friends, a ridiculously social social life. I had everything. Yes, I had been either unhappily single or in some form of dead-end / toxic relationship for the past 10 years and yes I hated my job. But that was normal, right? Wrong — turns out I was indeed suffering from depression (and had done in the past — amazing what therapy unfolds).

I'll cover how I ‘got better’ in another post as I can’t do it justice here and want to focus right now on life after depression. But please know that there is hope and you can actually discover a lot along the way. Here's 7 things I realised about my experience of depression that changed my life for the better and hopefully might resonate with you too if you're suffering:

1. What an amazing support network I have

Not only did the afore-mentioned best friend help turn my life around by intervening, but as soon as I got help and started opening up about it, everyone around me piled in to offer support as well. Whether that was lending a non-judgmental ear when I was particularly down, showing absolute patience and tolerance when I was being a miserable cow, or letting me change my hours at work because I couldn’t get to sleep before 4am (thank you old boss), they were there. And I’m so bloody grateful for them.

2. That I'm a mental health advocate

Until I was diagnosed, I thought the term ‘mental health’ was about, well, ‘mental’ people. Little did I know I was actually one of the ‘mental’ people and that ‘mental health’ didn’t necessarily mean you had to be locked up in a padded cell. It can just be as simple as you’re struggling to deal with the things that are happening in your life. And you know what? It’s completely fucking normal. That was the biggest realisation for me. Once I started opening up to people and realised that they didn’t run screaming for the hills when I told them I had depression, I started wearing my issues like a badge of honour. I’d tell anyone that listened. And I’d talk about it like it was normal. Because it is. Because 1 in 4 people suffer with mental health issues, which means we all have either suffered personally or we know someone who has. And that’s why we need to keep talking about it.

3. That I wasn’t alone

Before I spoke out about it, I was embarrassed, thinking that no one else had these issues and that I was, well, a bit mad.

But my Mum’s amazing response when I phoned her to say I’d been prescribed anti-depressants changed all of that. Instead of gasping in fear, bursting into tears and asking why oh why did I feel like this, she’s simply said ‘Right ok, which ones? You know I’ve been on them too my darling’. And with that revelation the weight of the world was lifted off my shoulders. Just knowing my seemingly-perfect Mum was a little bit imperfect like me was mind-blowing.

And the more I told other people about what I was going through, the more stories I heard of their mums, dads, friends, auntie’s cousin twice removed — or even them — who had suffered similarly. It’s way more common than I ever could have realised and that’s why I keep banging on about it.

4. That mental health is as important as physical health

Having been a fan of exercise for years (everything from Body Pump classes to running to British Military Fitness, to Street Dance — you name it, I did it), I can honestly say that I never once considered taking care of my mental health as well. Which is bloody bonkers but I guess until it’s taken away from you, you just take it for granted. I started doing yoga and dabbling in meditation apps, which weren’t an immediate fix, but they were a different kind of exercise to what I was used to. And my mind thanked me for it, time and time again.

5. I now know myred flags

So the particular episode I’m referring to was probably the 2nd time I’ve had a about of depression. I’ve actually then suffered with mental health issues again more recently — although this was more work-related stress & anxiety, but a mental health issue it still was. The point I’m trying to make here is that I knew immediately what it was when it hit me square in the face again. What I didn’t see was it creeping up on me, despite several massive red flags waving themselves like furiously in my face. The good thing is that having been through a few of these things, learning how to deal with them and that 'they too shall pass', I can now safely say I know what my red flags are. And I take notice of them now, so that if I can ever feel the ‘nasties’ creeping in, I’m be able to recognise and deal with them.

6. It started me on my ‘self love’ journey

After a period of therapy and anti-depressants (not advocating them, just saying they worked for me) and starting to feel ‘human’ again, I started to take stock and make some positive life changes. Another friend dragged me along to an event that I would never have normally gone to on ‘self love’(I won’t tell you what I originally thought that meant) and I can honestly say it changed my perspective on things 100%. After the depression I was so desperate not to go back into the hole that I was open to anything that would help. I embarked on Project Love’s ‘Get Ready For Love’ course which really helped me grab the whole ‘self-love’ thing by the balls and make it a way of life.

7. It made me want to help others

The course massively opened up my eyes to self-improvement and I started following the founders and coaches Selina and Vicky on social media. Now coaching wasn’t something I’d ever considered, but after watching some of Selina’s videos, I decided to go for it. I did a one-off career coaching session with her, which then led to me doing a 3 month ‘Love coaching’ course with Vicki I can honestly say they were both life changing. They each deserve (and will get) their own blog post but looking back this is totally what made me fall in love with coaching and want to become one.

So that was what I learnt from two bouts of depression. I can’t actually believe it now it’s all written down — who knew huh? And let me again reiterate that I’m in no way trivialising what really is a truly awful thing to go through, but please just know that if you’re suffering, there is a massive fucking light at the end of that dark tunnel and you might just learn some stuff about yourself along the way.

To quote the amazing Bryony Gordon, ‘You’ve just got to hold on’.

Meet Lauren

Career Change & Business Coach and Side Hustle Queen

Hi, I'm Lauren. I burnt out, hit rock bottom and used the experience to manifest my dream life. I now help passionate and ambitious women change career, start side hustles and grow businesses. I'm living proof that you can - and deserve to - have it all.

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