There is no start or end date for depression. You find yourself unraveling until you’re in too deep. However, you can learn to live with depression in a whole-hearted way with dignity. Here are a few things to remember:
1. It’s OK To Do Nothing
One of the most persistent feelings of depression is guilt. You feel guilty that you’re depressed, inconveniencing others, can’t hold a job, have no friends, and so on. Guilt will take over your feelings. You will feel trapped in your head. Let it all go. Don’t push yourself. Keep your activities small, light, and close-ended. You don’t need to “get out of the house” everyday. Stay still and listen.
2. Somebody’s Dog Needs Walking
Eventually, you may need to get out of the house. Even, if only once a week. Walking a neighbor’s dog is one of the most therapeutic ways to get some sun, Vitamin D, and feel okay. It may just take 20 minutes but it will make a big difference.
3. Put On Your Shoes
This is by far the hardest, especially on the weekends without the demand of work. Putting on your shoes is symbolic. It says you’re ready for anything. It represents movement even if it’s from the couch to the kitchen. You may notice that with your shoes on you get ideas to take a walk, sit on the porch, or maybe go grocery shopping. It helps.
4. Join Support Groups
Dailystrength.com has several support groups for Depression. Find the right forum, introduce yourself, share your rants, connect with others, and decompress. Helping someone else out there about how you feel can help you.
5. It’s Supposed To Hurt
Feel the pain. Drugs, alcohol, porn or food won’t make it disappear. It won’t help you relax. It will just add another 6 months, a year, or 5 years to your struggle.Turn to books, short walks, or maybe a movie. Keep it simple. Life is complicated enough with depression alone.
6. Eat At Home Whenever Possible
Healthy food can be a pain to cook when your energy is at zero. It can be expensive to buy. It takes time. Do it anyway. Perhaps on Mondays, make and drink a healthy smoothie. Add healthy fats for your brain like Omega 3s, flaxseed oil, etc. to give your smoothie a boost.
7. Have A Simple Routine
Have something you do at least once a week. It could be: walking the dog, putting on your shoes, a walk around the block upon rising, tea before bed, or 5 minutes of journal writing on Wednesdays. The momentum will help rebuild your sense of confidence and control over your life.
8. Stay In Bed
“What you resist persists”, goes the saying. Don’t attempt to “shake off” depression by planning a major vacation, spending a lot of money, or starting a new exercise program. These are sneaky little ways of self-sabotage only to “hate” your life even more. Stay in bed. Feel the pain. Do your once a week routine, drink your smoothie, and go back to bed. Soon or later your once a week routine will turn into a few days and so on. Trust the process.
9. Protect Yourself
Keep “happy” people at bay. Seriously. Depression is a sensitive issue and the last thing you need is someone saying, “get over it” or “oh, you’ll feel better tomorrow”. Send a quick email or note to “happy” people that you need some downtime. Tell them when to check in with you: every 2 weeks, a month, etc. Some will persist, but set your boundaries to keep you healthy. During this “cave time”, you may notice that the only friends you have are other depressed people you meet online or in groups. Seeing yourself in others empowers you to change and take control of your own life.
10. Buy Good Sheets
If you’re spending lots of time in bed, you might as well make it comfortable. Get hi-quality sheets. This is a small step but it’s a step in the right direction towards learning to take care of your own needs.
Life is a perpetual cycle of do-overs. Establishing these steps will help you the next time depression slips in and remind you of how to come back to yourself again.
Featured photo credit: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/ via Marisa McClellan