Your strengths as an introvert can help you challenge the darkness and reclaim your inner spark.
Does this sound familiar? You arrive home, your sanctuary, your haven, after a work conference with barely enough energy to drag your suitcase into your bedroom and collapse under the comfort of your weighted blanket. Exhausted, you eye your suitcase. Unpacking can wait until tomorrow…
The following day comes all too soon. You are beyond exhausted as you bury your head under your pillow to shut off the loudness of the outside world.
All of a sudden, the “following” day turns into several days, and you can’t muster the energy to do anything. Your suitcase remains where you left it, accusatorily, still unpacked.
What is wrong with you? The answer comes to you, a dark whisper across your conscious mind: depression.
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From Hopeless to Hopeful
In moments like the above, it’s easy to believe you’re alone, trapped in the darkness with no hope.
But guess what? You’re not alone. Not anymore.
In fact, as a fellow introvert, you have an entire community behind you. And, even better, you have introvert superpowers. And it is those superpowers that you can harness to challenge the darkness and reclaim your inner spark.
So take a deep breath, for the journey begins now.
We will walk through seven empowering steps designed specifically for introverts like you. Together, we’ll navigate the darkness, using the beautiful complexity of your introverted mind to find your light.
I know you can do this.
Are you ready?
8 Ways to Navigate Depression as an Introvert
1. First, understand what depression is, both for introverts and in general.
Depression can be an overwhelming and isolating experience — for anyone, whether you’re an introvert or not. It’s essential to recognize that depression doesn’t discriminate based on personality types.
Let’s define depression from a clinical standpoint. According to the Mayo Clinic, depression is a mood disorder whose symptoms affect your day-to-day life. Symptoms include irritability and frustration (even over little things), loss of interest in activities you used to enjoy, sleep issues (sleeping too much or too little), lack of energy, and anxiety — to name just a few.
While introverts may already find social interactions draining, depression can intensify these feelings and make it even more challenging to navigate daily life. But here’s the thing: acknowledging, accepting, and embracing your introverted self, your whole self, is crucial to understanding and working through depression. Don’t ignore or push away your innate need for solitude and self-reflection. Embrace it.
And let’s dispel an ongoing myth about introverts and depression: Not all introverts have depression, and not all people with depression are introverts.
As Introvert, Dear founder Jenn Granneman wrote in her article, “Yes, I’m an Introvert. No, I’m Not Depressed,” an introvert’s enjoyment and need for solitude to recharge their energy is entirely different from the seemingly inescapable, energy-zapping dark isolation of depression.
As someone who is both an introvert and has depression, the world can seem especially difficult to navigate. But then I realized that my strengths as an introvert are powerful tools in my journey toward finding light in the shadows. And I know they can be just as powerful for you.
2. Embrace solitude and the power of alone time.
As an introvert, you probably already appreciate the value of alone time. Contrary to popular belief, solitude can be a source of strength and healing when battling depression. It provides a space for self-discovery, introspection, and rejuvenation.
I recently used solitude and introspection during one of my recent bouts with depression. I was in a very dark place. My brain turned every moment and interaction into a montage of failures. I was angry and frustrated, and lashed out at my husband.
I knew I was in the depths of depression, and I could feel it starting to suffocate me. I stopped mid-sentence, looked at my husband, and told him I needed to be alone. After assuring him I was not in self-harm mode, I went to my safe space.
Depression tells us that we will be alone forever, no one loves us, we are broken, etc. Solitude gives us the time and space to use introspection to counter those dark moments of depression.
Next comes one of my preferred methods for combating depression: reframing and retraining my brain.
3. Reframe negative thoughts with “evidence” to shift your mindset.
During the alone time I mentioned above, I begin to counter all the “evidence” my brain has to support depression’s theory that I’m a “failure.” Much of the “evidence” my brain shows me includes certain decisions that my depression brain (for lack of a better term) has deemed as “poor” decisions.
For example, my brain loves to bring up how I left behind a career with a steady paycheck to pursue what I love — writing — as a “reason” I am a horrible human being. In those dark moments, my brain tells me:
- “I am a horrible writer.”
- “No one cares what I have to say, so why bother?”
- “I will fail.”
The list goes on and on, and my brain moves through all of its points, pushing me to believe them. There was a time when I believed my depression brain. But now, with reframing and pulling in reality (evidence), I turn those thoughts into:
- “I am a good writer.”
- “People read what I write and tell me how much they appreciate my words.”
- “Is failure really horrible? I learn from so-called ‘failures,’ so that is a win for me.”
For me, reframing is a step toward pushing back the darkness so I can begin to find even the smallest light. When I find that light, I focus on and expand it — which helps dispel the darkness.
Do you ever struggle to know what to say?
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4. Build a support system.
Depression can make you feel isolated and disconnected from others, but it’s crucial to remember that you don’t have to face it alone. Building a support system is vital for your well-being, even as an introvert. Yes, I know, we introverts may not like asking for help. But in this case, it’s necessary.
How do you do this? Seek out like-minded individuals who understand and appreciate your introverted nature. Look for local in-person support groups (maybe through your church or community center) or online communities where you can connect with people who share similar experiences. These connections can provide a safe space to express your feelings without judgment.
As an introvert, I am careful about those I spend time with. With my depression, I have to be extra careful because not everyone can hold space for me and be there in the moment, knowing I need a reassuring presence or moment alone to process things.
I found my community, Ask A Sex Abuse Survivor, on Facebook. Until I found that group, I didn’t realize how important having community was for me. I didn’t know how alone I had been feeling until I wasn’t alone anymore. Finding my community has been instrumental in remembering that there is light, even on the darkest days. Keep looking!
5. Express your emotions through artistic outlets.
Artistic outlets can be incredibly therapeutic for introverts and those who are navigating depression. Engaging in creative activities allows you to express your emotions safely and constructively.
Experiment with different mediums and techniques to find what brings you joy and allows you to express yourself authentically. Find what resonates with you: writing, baking, painting, playing an instrument, or any other form of artistic expression. It is about your journey and self-expression, after all.
For me, journaling has been a great coping mechanism. Writing is a cathartic experience that’s helped me gain clarity and release pent-up emotions. Eventually, my practice of journaling led me to write, and now, here I am, helping others on their journey through articles like this (at least I hope!).
6. Practice mindfulness to cultivate inner peace.
Amid depression, the mind can be a disorganized place. Mindfulness, the practice of being fully present in the moment, can be a powerful tool for introverts navigating through the shadows.
By cultivating mindfulness, you can learn to observe your thoughts and emotions without judgment or attachment. Mindfulness allows you to understand yourself and your internal experiences better. It helps you recognize negative thought patterns and detach from them, creating space for more positive and empowering thoughts.
Try incorporating mindfulness techniques into your daily routine. Practice deep breathing exercises (YouTube videos can help!), meditate (there are lots of great apps out there, like Headspace and Insight Timer!), or take a mindful walk in nature, taking time to look at the trees, sun, animals, and so on. These moments of presence can bring a sense of calm and inner peace, helping you navigate through the darkness.
My favorite deep breathing exercise is box breathing, also known as four-square breathing. It is four counts of breathing in, four counts of holding your breath, four counts of exhaling, and four more counts of holding after your exhale.
My method of box breathing has a twist. Instead of counting, I use a four-syllable word, “sanc-tu-a-ry.” Focusing on breathing and visualizing the word “sanctuary” helps me reach a calming, present place.
7. Seek out a mental health expert to help you explore your feelings and come up with coping strategies.
Sometimes, the support of a professional can be instrumental in your journey toward finding light in the shadows. However, as an introvert, you may have reservations about seeking therapy. Reaching out to a stranger is daunting, and therapy has the added social stigma that keeps many people from seeking help.
Therapy can benefit introverts in many ways. It provides a safe and confidential space to explore feelings and develop coping strategies. Finding a therapist who understands and respects your introverted traits is also essential. Look for professionals who value the power of silence, active listening, and reflection in their practice.
Finding the right therapist may take time and effort. Seek recommendations from trusted sources and trust your intuition when choosing a therapist who resonates with you. Plus, you can always start with online therapy and work your way up to in-person therapy (or not). Ask questions, and don’t give up. Therapy was a life-changing experience for me, and I believe it can be for you, too.
8. Embrace self-compassion to celebrate your personal growth.
During depression, it’s easy to be hard on yourself. This is primarily because depression uses our internal critic and ramps it up by a thousand percent; I mean, where else would it get the shame and self-loathing from?
But practicing self-compassion is crucial for your healing journey. Treat yourself with kindness, understanding that you’re doing your best. Remember, healing is not a linear process and setbacks are a natural part of the journey.
One of my daily mantras is, “I determine my worth. I am worthy.” That phrase helps me remember to take care of myself, first and foremost, and helps me be present. Self-care is not selfish. It is the first step in showing kindness and love to ourselves.
Embrace Your Introvert Superpowers and Find Your Light
That’s a lot to take in. I know. Feeling overwhelmed, lost, and even skeptical along this journey is okay. Remember, you’ve been courageous enough to seek a path toward the light. Breathe and take a moment.
As you pave your path toward finding your spark in the dark, remember that healing is never a straight line. Any movement in one direction is movement; you have chosen that instead of stagnation.
And from that moment when you choose movement over stagnation, may you find solace in the knowledge that, within you, lies a resilient spirit, capable of finding the light that shines brightly even in the darkest of shadows. It’s a beacon of resilience, strength, and authenticity. As you take each step forward, that light grows more radiant, casting away the darkness that once consumed you.
It’s time to find your light.
You might like:
- Help for Introverts Who Are Struggling With Depression
- Yes, I’m an Introvert. No, I’m Not Depressed.
- 10 Weird Things I Do as a Socially Anxious Introvert
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