Deep sighs, deep snow // One foot in front of the other is the way through both

As I get older (haha, yes, I know, thirty isn’t “old”, but it’s the oldest *I’ve* ever been), I feel like it’s getting harder & harder to admit when I’m depressed, or to talk about it with friends. I guess I feel like I’ve used up a lifetime worth of sadpants whining in my teens and twenties, lost enough friends to being negative all the time, and I just don’t want to be that person anymore. But I also have to admit that even though I’ve done a lot of hard work and learned a toolbox worth of coping mechanisms and can tell myself all the “rational” things, shitty stuff is still going to hurt, and my struggles with depression (and the other end of my spectrum, hypomania & anxiety) are going to be a lifelong thing.

All that to say, it’s been up & down lately, and when it’s down, I’m more likely to stay quiet. I’m not sure there’s anything positive to come out of straight-up moping. I can do that at home. But there’s probably a growthful middle ground to reach toward, and I’m trying to find it. Maybe talking about my depression openly but outlining my attempts thus far to deal with it is a start.

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I’m also interested in hearing the things you do to take care of yourself if you struggle with depression.

I try to get back to basic self-care. It’s when I think I can ignore those things that my mental health starts to fall apart. I try to get up at a good, early hour. Use my daylight lamp (light therapy). Get exercise. Cook and eat healthy foods. Get lots of good books from the library. Try to channel some of the self-destructive energy I can feel trying to break loose into creative projects.

But of course, the problem with depression is that you don’t *want* to do any of those things. Or they feel like they’re not “working”. I’m “too tired” to exercise. I “don’t have time” to use the light. I don’t have energy to cook dinner. I’m just not enjoying any of my books. My creative projects are just not turning out how I’d like them to.

Some more things I try to do: get out in nature, somewhere, if not for exercise then just for hanging out and reading or sitting or being; spend time with animals, my cats or at Springfarm; redecorate–moving a critical piece of furniture or putting out some different curtains or switching out one afghan for another is sometimes enough to make things feel just fresh enough to inspire.

What are some of your tricks?

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5 Responses to Deep sighs, deep snow // One foot in front of the other is the way through both

  1. Gina says:

    I do a lot of the things you do when I get depressed. Additionally, I make an effort to get dressed and get out of the house.

    I’ve also discovered just recently that one of th biggest impacts on my depression is lack of sleep. Certainly, most of my depression is situational, and you know what my triggers are, but I have found that regular sleep can help me handle what is thrown at me. It can be a real challenge because when I’m anxious/worried/depressed, sleep can be hard to come by and yet that is when I need it most.

    Making an effort to get regular sleep has made a huge difference for me.

    Don’t give up, I know we are often told we can’t change, but I think we can. Not that I think you need to change but I think if you want to reduce your depression you can do it.

  2. Lex says:

    Oh man, this is so timely for me too. As someone who not only has been experiencing depression for maybe 15 years now but also works as a counselor and has all the training that comes with it, I totally know all the recommendations. And when I am bad, I TOTALLY don’t feel capable of doing any of them. My light box? It takes too long and I don’t really have a good place to set it up anyway – and would it really help? Exercising? I barely have the energy to shower dress like a grown-up, what makes you think I could actually move my body, despite knowing that I need to not just for my mental health, but my physical health? Spending time with friends? Even though I know I will enjoy myself once there, pushing myself out the door is hard.

    I also find sleep helps. When I wasn’t working, I was able to follow my sleep patterns much more naturally – including if I did feel worn out and needed a nap. I know I have read a few sources indicating that when we, as a culture, were more homesteaders and farmers, most people did sleep more in the winter – there was less light and less work (comparatively, at least) since the crops were gone for the year, so there was much more sleep. I think that despite our modern advances that a) allow more light (albeit unnatural) during the winter, b) demand the same productivity across seasons, it is a human trait ingrained in us, to follow the patterns of Nature… Maybe that is the hippie-dippie Witch in me, or maybe I am making excuses for myself.

    I wish I had more to offer than that. Sleep has helped me a lot. I know there have been times when I’ve had to force myself to do things socially even when I really didn’t want to, and it worked out well. That hasn’t happened in a long time (haven’t needed to, thankfully), but sometimes forcing yourself does work. But admittedly, not always.

    Have you ever read Hyperbole and a Half? As a rule, it’s hilarious, but the most recent entry (actually fairly old by now; I hope the author is OK…) talks about Depression. As someone who has been in a similar spot, I can both laugh at and commiserate with the pain expressed in the comic; it’s so, so accurate: http://hyperboleandahalf.blogspot.com/2011/10/adventures-in-depression.html

    ::long-distance hugs::

    • Lex says:

      One of many great quotes in the post I linked to above: “But trying to use willpower to overcome the apathetic sort of sadness that accompanies depression is like a person with no arms trying to punch themselves until their hands grow back. A fundamental component of the plan is missing and it isn’t going to work. “

      • I did read that post a while ago, and it’s spot-on. I think part of her absence (although probably not all of it) is because she’s working on a book.

        Lack of sleep has never been an issue for me, but sleeping too much certainly has. I have a tendency to want to do nothing but and my schedule has usually allowed for that. So when I have to “work on sleeping right”, for me that means getting up *earlier*, and sleeping *less*. I know, you’re jealous, right? I wish there was some sort of bank for every overage/underage problem, that I could put in my “too much” and someone else could take out some for their “not enough”. I’ve been trying to put that in God/The Universe’s suggestion box, but so far, no go.

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