Yesterday I woke up feeling ok, but after a couple of hours I felt depressed. So I did exactly the opposite of what I should have done and went back to bed. What should I have done? Gone outside, get out of the house, read my therapy notebook, journal, make a gratitude list…anything but go back to bed. But fighting depression is exhausting and,sometimes, I just have to take a nap and hope that I wake up with a better perspective. What is the first thing you do when you’re feeling depressed? Its difficult to put into practice the tools that I have at my disposal. Most often, I fall back on what I’ve done in the past. For me, that is sleeping.
When I woke up from my nap, I felt wobbly, but ok. Again, within an hour or so I felt like crap. I tried fighting back the depressing thoughts by repeating phrases in my mind: “This is only temporary”, “Remember a time you felt good”, “What is something I can look forward to?” I also used the three for one rule. This rule says if you say something hurtful (ie: “I am stupid”.) about yourself, you must then say three good things about yourself. Sometimes this is incredibly hard.
I ran an errand and it felt really good to get out of the house. Getting out of the house is one of the most powerful weapons I have against depression. There is something about being out and about that is reassuring and makes you feel like part of the human race. But how do you “make” yourself leave the house when you’re feeling agoraphobic? It’s tricky. I have to let myself only have one thought at time. Pick up purse. Grab keys. Walk to back door. Lock. Walk to car. Get in. Turn the key. Its only by not letting myself think too far ahead, baby steps, that I can get this done.
When I returned home, I started doing chores and getting dinner ready. Although I could feel the depression, I could also feel that I was pushing it back. Keeping busy is definitely a key to dealing with depression.
I did go to better super early (7 pm) because I was mentally done.
So how do you make yourself do the right thing when you’re depressed instead of your default, whether that be going to bed, plopping down in front of the tv, eating, etc.?
Keep your Fighting Depression materials close at hand so they are easy to access. Get out your Self-Care Kit (www.mentallyinteresting/self-care-plan). Tell someone that you are depressed and ask them to remind you of things you can do to fight it. Journal about how you feel and what would make you feel better. Don’t isolate because it leads to getting trapped inside your head where everything seems terrible. Go out, take a walk and get some sun.
The point is that you’re not always going to handle depression and anxiety the “right” way. Sometimes you’re just going to go back to bed and escape through sleep. It’s never too late to put your coping skills to work. We all get better with time and practice. And when depression comes knocking again, we’ll be a little bit better prepared.