The past three weeks or so have been a battle for me. Not a battle with anyone or anything else, just a battle with myself. I’ve been so frustrated that I let pain and heartache from my past seep into my life and take over my faith in the future. It’s not a secret that I try to keep, I battle with depression and I have for as long as I can remember. It is always lurking there waiting for the right opportunity to pop up and ruin my perfectly planned out day/week/month/life. I do okay when I am busy and I can shove it right back down, deep, deep down because “I don’t have time to deal with it.”
Then I have free time, you know the time you look SO forward to. I love my Deja time, my time to myself to craft, think, write, watch Netflix, shop…whatever. However, it’s during this time that I start to think and think and think and my mind sometimes takes over my plans for Deja time.
I have been struggling with these feelings of sadness and loneliness. When I feel like this I often want to curl up in a ball, shut out the world and sleep, oh man I love(d) sleeping because I’m free of everything that torments my mind and my heart. This time it’s been different. I am not finding any peace or quiet in my sleep instead I am taunted by horrible nightmares and magnificent dreams. I dream about my past, my mistakes, my past choices, my dad, my heartbreaks, being a mom, not being a mom…I can’t escape it ESPECIALLY in my sleep. I have always been cursed/blessed by my dreams, they’re so vivid and real and inflict real emotions on me in ways real-life experiences can’t even do. I battle between wanting to stay awake or falling asleep, either way I know my heart will be heavy.
It’s a heaviness I don’t really know how to cope with. I let it crush my soul and I often feel like I’m carrying 1,000 bricks on my shoulders, bricks I can’t (or don’t know how to) set down. It’s frustrating for me to deal with these feelings because I know I’m strong yet not strong enough to LET IT GO!
Maybe some of you deal with these types of burdens, these crushing thoughts and feelings that take over every aspect of your life. I pray you don’t feel this way, but I also assume I’m not the only one.
I mostly made the following list for myself but also for some ideas that might help some of us pull ourselves up when we feel like we can’t even move. I need to preface this by saying that sometimes we need serious, serious help. Meaning, you need to call a family member to come over, a counselor or psychologist, a crisis center or a hospital. If you are feeling so depressed you can’t function at all GET HELP, please. I’ve been in this place and you HAVE to find a way to reach out for help. These tips are for days when your depression isn’t life-threatening, yes, depression can be a life-threatening disease, don’t let anyone tell you differently.
Here are 10 things that help me when depression sets in (in no particular order):
Get dressed. Oh My Gosh, this is SO DANG HARD to do when you are feeling so sad! I sometimes don’t get dressed, (okay a lot of the time lately). I find it harder and harder to want to shower and put on make-up and clothes and perfume and do my hair…the job seems like more than I can handle. BUT, when I do this, I am just a smidge less blue. It sometimes takes everything in my soul to do such a simple every-day task but it does help. Even if you can’t leave the house yet, getting dressed helps and be proud of yourself when you do it, depression can be crippling and anyone who’s dealt with it understands what a big accomplishment this is!
|Photo courtesy of: Deja|
2. Eat. The word food makes me cringe sometimes when the last thing I feel like doing is eating. However, when you put off eating, or don’t eat at all, you are not helping anything. You are making it that much harder to move forward.
|Photo courtesy of: 100 Layer Cakelet|
3. Write/Talk: No matter how much pain you feel you have to find a way to get it out for some people talking to others is easiest, find a friend you can confide in and talk to them. Naturally, I am not much of a talker (I know this may shock some) I’m very private (again people are shocked) it’s NOT easy for me to talk to people, my first reaction is to actual cut all people off. It’s okay to do this as long as you have another way to get out your thoughts and feeling. I am very much a writer (hence the blog) and writing heals me tremendously. Whatever way you need to communicate, do it! It will make a world of difference. If you write you don’t have to make it public but if it makes you feel better, screw other people who may judge you for it (sorry to be so blunt but…) GET IT OUT!
|Purchase this adorable charm on Etsy.|
4. Smile. Okay, when you’re sad who the heck wants to smile, am I right!?! But do it. Force yourself to smile. Just grin and bear it, literally.
|Photo courtesy of: Me|
5. Do something you love. Sometimes the best thing to do is stop what you’re doing, put it down, and just leave it! Then go find something you love to do (crafting, cooking, reading a good book, going on a walk, exercising, baking, building something). Whatever it is that gives you peace, or a break, take the time to stop what you’re doing and just do it. No deadline in life is more important that your mental health.
|Photo Courtesy of: Musings by Villa Collezione|
6. Do something for someone else. Okay, this sounds cliché I know everyone says it but when you’re REALLY, REALLY depressed this task seems tough. This doesn’t have to be a gigantic, humungo gesture, this could be writing someone a little message on Facebook, sending a surprise gift to someone (from the comfort of your computer, or even better, going out to get something). It could be as simple as planning a lunch date with them, sending them a quick email or text or simply writing them a good old fashion letter to send snail mail. If we stop and do something for someone else, it doesn’t mean our problems aren’t big and burdensome but it does shift our focus for just a bit.
|Retrieved from: Positively Positive|
7. Treat yo Self…have a cupcake or any treat you love. Okay, NONE of my regular readers are shocked by number 7, I get that. BUT the reality is if you stop and treat yourself when you’re sad it may not fix things but it does comfort in a sense. I know turning to food when your sad isn’t a good thing but I’m also a firm believe that a little snack when your down, a little treat of something you love, isn’t going to break you. If it's not food, get a mani-pedi or massage.
|Photo courtesy of: Ricakeulous|
8. Exercise. Just what you wanted to hear after cupcakes right!?! The reality is, and as my husband always says, “They’ve done studies on it.” Exercise really, really does help, I promise. However, this might be the hardest on the list to do because well, when you’re sad you don’t want to work out. Period. BUT DO IT ANYWAY. Especially try to find a group class you can attend with other people, or bring a friend but do it, I can almost guarantee you will feel slightly better almost instantly.
|Photo: Deja doing pole fitness.|
9. Pray, meditate, think…whatever it is you do for peace of mind, STOP and DO IT! I can’t tell you how many times when I’m struggling I think about praying and talk myself out of it, for days sometimes. When the “nudging” is finally annoying me enough and I do pray I almost always get strength. I’m not here to say prayer fixes depression, but it can be a part of the healing process. Prayers, yoga, meditation…whatever you do, try it.
|Photo courtesy of: Everyday Family.|
10. If needed, get professional help! Now I’m married to a mental health professional so you may assume 10 is a bit bias, maybe it is. BUT it has worked for me more times than I can count. We budget into our family budget, counseling for me. I can’t live without it, I need it, I crave it, I adore it. Yep, you heard me right, I LOVE GOING TO MY THERAPIST. Some might say this shows you have much I’m lacking in the mental health department but in reality, I feel it shows my strength. I have no shame in the fact I see a therapist who is trained to help me, who is un-bias and who knows how to guide me through my thoughts when I can’t do it myself. I will go to my grave (hopefully not for many, many more years) defending the mental health profession and the goodness it does. If you need help, get it, this is the most important piece of advice on this list.
Being sad or suffering from depression and/or anxiety is nothing to be ashamed of. It’s a disease like any other and anyone who says otherwise has not dealt with depression—I believe that whole-heartedly. It’s a painful thing to go through and it’s something you have to “keep an eye on” forever. For me, writing this post has helped me, do what helps you, no matter what it may be (within the limits of the law of course, lol).
What do you do to help you when you’re feeling down or in the dark?
Disclaimer: I am not a professional mental health expert just a woman who has battled depression for a long time.