Living with depression, while functioning as an adult, leads to many hard days. I thought why not offer the top things I do to stay mobile – that is, able to move freely or easily even while depressed, if only for a few hours each day in the middle of this illness.
- Get out of bed every day, no matter what.
- Eat healthy food. Eat three meals a day, even if they are small. Avoid too much carbohydrates and white sugar products. No that coffee and pastry are not the answer and they are not food that will heal you.
- Get dressed for the day, in “work” clothes, no matter what you feel like. Fake it till you feel it has been my motto for months. Fewer people ask you how you’re doing, assuming if you look good that you’re okay. And frankly, this is important and leads to #4.
- Stop thinking about yourself so much. It’s okay to distract yourself from the rabbit trail of depressive and negative thoughts. Netflix is a Godsend.
- Do something, anything, that is helpful or necessary part of being a functional adult. Some days for me that’s only simple things: do the dishes, get the kids off to school, cook a meal. I cannot always comply with my own rules, the grocery store with all its decisions being hard, hard, hard place for me.
- Let others touch you. Some days my skin is crawling with discomfort and agitation, but allowing an embrace from Tom or a hug from my kids helps acclimate one to being and feeling human.
- Do something creative. For me this is writing, or taking some images (even if it’s only on my crappy cell phone) which helps me SEE the world which is quite stunningly beautiful.
- Be with a friend. It doesn’t even matter who, it forces shut for a little while the negative narrative that’s knocking around and in my head. Even if this is just for a few hours it changes the pattern of your brain, your heart to listen to another human being. Yes, you don’t have to talk about yourself, you don’t have to talk about your depression, and honestly this is a good thing.
- Exercise, if you can. This time, it started with a friend who knows me well; she kept texting me – “Go for a walk, Melody.” Get outside even if it’s to walk to the end of the street, because the fresh air, the sunshine (if it’s there), and the movement help stave off the beastly sand in your veins, weighing you down.
- Listen to music or read something that usually speaks to you when you aren’t down. It may be a poet you love, or a certain author, or God forbid even bloggers that you know are encouraging and positive. I have a book of Psalms that I read when I can no longer think, no longer pray, no longer believe anything good.
All of these things help me. And having been through this countless times I can tell you that they will work, not immediately, not every day, not even perfectly! But eventually, your mind will stop racing long enough to make the phone call and get in with your psychologist.
And that’s number eleven, see a professional.
If you have suffered with feelings of unusual anxiety or sadness for longer than two weeks, if the normal things no longer bring you pleasure, if you have an unusual change in your mood that you cannot stave off with any of these things, know that you need to see a professional to help you sort out why.
And this will be of the most difficult things you will ever do – to talk to a therapist about why you are depressed. I find it to be a specially, hellish experience because usually I don’t want to deal with my sh*t. And if I can go without a therapist I will stubbornly trudge along on my own for long stretches and sometimes this is okay.
The desire to be “normal” is strong, to feel joy, to experience contentment and receive love from others is the Human Condition but if you are unable to do that then get some help from a professional.
I have learned these things the hard way. But I can tell you that no matter how much you want to give in, to allow yourself to fall down that slippery path into the sinkhole of depression, know that this is the illness talking.
The only way to get well is to get back up again tomorrow, or even later today, and fight.