One of the super fun things about living with depression and anxiety is how my idiot brain can go from “CAN DO!” to “EXISTENCE IS SUFFERING” faster than you can wish to take two strokes off your golf game. So today started out normal, and very quickly became a rough day. One of the ways I help myself through days like today, is to acknowledge that I’m sick not weak, and then take one step after another to get out from under the lead apron that Depression likes to drape over my life.
I just answered an ask on my Tumblr thingy that has helped me feel better, and I wanted to put it here, so it’s easy for me to find again the next time I need it:
Q: what can I do to bring myself out of depression?
So I’m having a tough day today, and I know that it’s my mental illness taking small things that most people can probably roll past, and blowing them up into one giant lead apron of I CAN’T EVEN.
Knowing that and accepting it doesn’t make it go away, but it does give me a little bit of light in this darkness, to help me eventually find the exit.
We have to remind ourselves that Depression Lies, and one of the things it does, to keep itself strong and in charge, is tell us lies, like: I am the worst at everything. Nobody really likes me. I don’t deserve to be happy. This will never end. And so on and so on. We can know, in our rational minds, that this is a giant bunch of bullshit (and we can look at all these times in our lives when were WERE good at a thing, when we genuinely felt happy, when we felt awful but got through it, etc.) but in the moment, it can be a serious challenge to wait for Depression to lift the roadblock that’s keeping us from moving those facts from our rational mind to our emotional selves.
And that’s the thing about Depression: we can’t force it to go away. As I’ve said, if I could just “stop feeling sad” I WOULD. (And, also, Depression isn’t just feeling sad, right? It’s a lot of things together than can manifest themselves into something that is most easily simplified into “I feel sad.”)
So another step in our self care is to be gentle with ourselves. Depression is beating up on us already, and we don’t need to help it out. Give yourself permission to acknowledge that you’re feeling terrible (or bad, or whatever it is you are feeling), and then do a little thing, just one single thing, that you probably don’t feel like doing, but I PROMISE you will help. Some of those things are:
- Take a shower.
- Eat a nutritious meal.
- Take a walk outside (even if it’s literally to the corner and back).
- Do something – throw a ball, play tug of war, give belly rubs – with a dog. Just about any activity with my dogs, even if it’s just a snuggle on the couch for a few minutes, helps me.
- Do five minutes of yoga stretching.
- Listen to a guided meditation and follow along as best as you can.
Finally, please trust me and know that this shitty, awful, overwhelming, terrible way you feel IS NOT FOREVER. It will get better. It always gets better. You are not alone in this fight, and you are OK.
You can ALWAYS talk to a mental health professional, too, if you have any thoughts of self-harm or feel hopeless. Some free and anonymous resources are:
- NAMI’s helpline: 800-950-6264
- OK 2 Talk: http://ok2talk.org/
- National Suicide Prevention Lifeline – Call 800-273-TALK (8255)
- Crisis Text Line – Text NAMI to 741-741
Check in with me in a few days and let me know how you’re doing, okay?
For myself, today: I am getting off Twitter for at least the rest of today, and maybe until the end of the weekend. I am walking myself and my dogs. I am meditating. I am making sure I eat a nutritious lunch AND dinner (go me!). And I’m going to accept that, at this moment, my creative well is dry. It will refill in its own time, and I have to accept that I can’t force it.