The past few weeks have been hard. My meds have quit working, as I discussed in an earlier post (When the Meds Stop Working). I’m happy to report though that my psychiatrist has upped the dosage and I should be feeling better very soon. Thank God!! As I’ve said before, every day is a struggle when the depression hits. Every day is a battle between gloom and light. So, I thought I’d share what I do to fight the black hole aside from taking my meds and going to therapy once a week. Truthfully, the strategies can be used when dealing with any mental illness. Paix has used these little tricks herself to keep going on the days she is in the downswing of her bi-polar.
- Get up and get dressed – Seems simple, right? When you’re in the grips of depression though, this can seem monumental. However, getting out of bed and getting dressed in CLEAN clothes is the best way to start the day. I work to not wait until after I’ve had that cup of coffee. Work to not lounge in the pjs for even a minute. I get up and get dressed! Even if nothing else works out for the day, I at least have clean clothes on.
- Write a list of what absolutely MUST be done – I generally love lists anyway, but on the bad days seeing the one or two things to do that are essential can motivate me. Now I don’t go crazy and write all the things that should be done, just the ones that absolutely, positively MUST get done and then muster the strength to do them. Usually this list consists of getting Ry on the bus for school and picking him up or taking him to therapy. MAYBE one or two other things but having those things that I HAVE to do written out and then crossing them off can boost the confidence and make me feel like I’ve really accomplished something that day.
- Counter every negative thought with a positive one – I’ve talked about this one before in great length in my post An Attitude of Gratitude. Regulating the thoughts is the most exhausting thing for me. It is constant. However, letting the negative thoughts win is something that I cannot let happen. Once I go down that rabbit hole, it is hard as hell to get out.
- Do something physical – I try to take a quick walk daily – even if that means parking in the back of the parking lot at Food Lion. Taking extra steps to get the blood pumping is good all around. I count doing one household chore as getting physical too. A load of laundry, filling up the dishwasher, vacuuming a room, sweeping the kitchen. Even if it’s just one thing, that’s ok. Plus, the feeling of accomplishment when your done doesn’t hurt anything. Write it on the list and mark it off!
- Watch something funny on TV or YouTube – You’ve heard that humor is the best medicine and it’s true. Any excuse to get even a giggle during the dark days is cause for celebration. Laugh as much as you can! Nothing is better for battling the blues.
- EAT! – When depression hits me hard, I quit eating which isn’t good for the body or the mind. I literally have to force myself to eat. Now if you are prone to overeating during an episode, this one might not work for you. Take that walk instead.
- Don’t cut yourself off from people – This one is probably the hardest for me to be consistent at. I tend to not answer the phone or even the door if someone comes knocking. I do however try very hard to keep my appointments with friends. If something has been planned, I try to stick to it and not cancel. I say try, because if I said that I’ve always stuck to this it would make me a liar.
- Do something you normally enjoy doing, even if you don’t feel like it – Those things that make you happy can still raise your spirits even if you don’t think they will. I love to craft and when I had my craft room before Paix moved home, I would spend all day in there on the bad days just tinkering with whatever my hands landed on. It always helped. This is harder now that Paix is home, but I will still find ways to craft in my dining room.
- Shower! – Again, seems like a no-brainer, right? You might be surprised at how much effort it takes just to get in the shower on bad days but being clean can do so much to help you feel better.
- Get enough sleep – I am a huge supporter of naps, but if you are unable to catch some afternoon z’s make sure you are getting your 8 hours of sleep. Use medication if you have to! My psych has prescribed me with a sleeping pill to use as needed and I do use it when I know my brain will be trying to keep me occupied while trying to go to bed. Getting too much sleep is not helpful though, so refer back to #1.
Do you have another strategy to help fight the funk? I’d love to hear it! Taking care of ourselves in body and mind during the worst of depression can be extremely challenging but so worth the effort. I’d rather be fighting than let the black hole win any day. It really is a matter of life or death.