Things I Do When Depression Hits
|Photo by Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash|
Oh depression. My unwanted life companion. I've managed to walk away from toxic relationships, but I just can't seem to shake you. Just a warning this post may be triggering.
I had a scary bad bout of depression that started last October and started to lift in January. I was joking with a friend about how we need a depression chart, kind of like pain charts in the hospital. I think the scale of 0 to 10 would be: 0 is 'I am not suicidal, but I wouldn't mind if I got hit by a bus tomorrow', and 10 is 'I am a happy functioning human being'. Using that scale I would have been at about a 2. I just didn't feel like existing. I want to make clear that I was severely depressed, but not suicidal. This would be a very different blog post if I had been feeling suicidal.
If you are feeling suicidal, then please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-8255.
The top two things I did to get myself back and functioning was 1) see my therapist and 2) reach out to people. I needed to get help and I needed to not isolate myself, which as a depressed introvert is what I reallllly wanted to do. I let a few people know that I was really struggling and I made sure to get some face time with those people. I had a few friends who I would check in with daily via text as well. I have joked in the past that sometimes it takes a village to raise me and that is definitely what it took to get me through each day.
Once I was feeling a little more stable, I focused on getting back to basics, which for me means 8 hours of sleep each night, drinking a ton of water throughout the day, eating healthy and movement. When you are depressed these things are hard man. It was like carrying a load of bricks up a mud slide. Almost all of my energy was devoted to making sure I got sleep and I ate healthy meals. Oh yeah and made it to work every day. I really relied on KitchFix during this time. I had no interest in cooking and a meal service was extremely helpful. If you are able to, outsource what you don't feel you can handle doing. I should also point out that alcohol is a depressant. Reaching for a glass of wine, or two, each evening is going to make getting through the depression even more difficult. I didn't quit drinking, but I seriously minimized my drinking.
I also started doing 20 minutes of yoga a couple of days a week. My goal was to do it twice a week and anything else was a bonus. While depression was my primary problem, my anxiety was also rearing it's twitchy head and the yoga helped. When my depression first hit hard I didn't have it in me to manage adding movement into my day. I know it is one of those things that make you feel better, but when you are struggling just to exist, it just isn't going to happen. Every time I read one of those 'top 7 ways to feel happier' articles, exercise is always on the list and I kind of want to punch the person who wrote it. I know it's good for me, but sometimes it is just not going to happen and that's ok. Add it back in when you are able to.
Today I am in a much better place. I still don't feel like I'm quite at ten on the happiness scale, but I'm starting to feel like myself again.
When depression starts to drag you down I'd suggest that:
- The very first thing you do is get help
- Reach out to people
- Take care of your body