[Read time: 3-4 minutes]
**Disclaimer: I am not a medical doctor. This advice is based off my therapy sessions and what works for ME. What is right for some may not be right for others; find what works best for you.**
Scroll straight to the bottom for the tips, if you don’t want to hear me blather.
Confession: I called in sick to work yesterday for the first time since 2017 (when I was, in fact, sick.)
Luckily, I work for myself and from home, so my boss was not TOO mad at me. Lol.
I got some disappointing news regarding my Christmas plans: where I was expecting to go has now been cancelled. I was devastated by the news, as I was really looking forward to seeing family and getting some time away from my noisy little home.
The devastation quickly turned into a depressive episode. To backtrack slightly: I have been attempting to rise out of my depression since early 2016. And, mostly, I have. In early 2016 I quit drinking, then quit the job I hated. Those two factors alone helped boost me up; other things I did after (finishing university, becoming a mother, launching this blog, etc) helped me change the status of my mental health. But, doing these things alone was not enough; I employed several strategies during the day-to-day struggle.
So, when episodes like this do pop up, I have a few tricks I use to claw my way back out of the deep dark hole that is depression.
Before I begin, I want to make sure you’re all aware of what I did on my mental health break from work yesterday:
dropped my daughter off at school.
played video games.
played video games again.
did some diamond painting and listened to murder podcasts.
picked up my daughter from school.
During the whole day, was I beating myself up for not working? Yep! Was I crying? Yes! Did I lose interest in doing the things I wanted to do? You betcha! Needless to say, the day I had originally planned for myself (writing, blogging, working) was thrown straight into the trash. The article I was going to write? Didn’t start it. The blog post I had planned? Still floating in my head and not on paper as planned. My novel? Didn’t touch it.
This quote perfectly sums up how I felt yesterday:
“Q: What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery?Joan Didion
A: Misery is feeling estranged from people I love. Misery is also not working. The two seem to go together.”
Today, though, I am better. The episode has passed, thanks a lot in part to some strategies I learned during counselling. I share them below. Please note, again, I am not a medical doctor. If you suffer from severe depression, I encourage you to seek help. There is no shame in it, and *I* will be on your side, if nobody else.
1. Recognize that you’re having an episode.
This is simultaneously the hardest and easiest step. You’ll want to resist at first – “I’m too strong for this!” – but, I promise you, if you acknowledge it, it’s easier to accept it.
How to do it: Let yourself go through the feelings. It’s the only way to get through them. Cry if you need to. There are such things as mental health days; take one of those, if you are able.
2. Give yourself grace.
This is the hardest step for me, personally. But once I am able to let go, my breathing becomes a little easier, my thoughts become a little clearer.
How to do it: Acknowledge feelings of guilt and shame and let them go. Once you recognize that you are spiralling, simply hold on to the thought, acknowledge it, and gently let it leave. They’re just thoughts. Give yourself the grace to do this.
3. Do only what you can.
If all you can do is lie on the couch and watch Lord of the Rings all day, then that’s what you’ll do. But, resolve to be better the next day.
How to do it: To be able to successfully do only that you can, you have to incorporate the above two tips into your day. If you can’t, you’ll do the bare minimum but feel guilty, resentful, shameful, lazy, etc. Beating yourself up for having a mental illness is your mental illness talking. Recognize it and let it go.
4. Get a good night’s sleep.
The power of a good night’s sleep is underrated.
How to do it: I’m not going to give professional advice on sleeping. So, I encourage you to read this.
Other tips I incorporate:
Stay off of social media. Yes, I know, easier said than done. But, I find myself instantly comparing my “shitty” life to the “perfect” ones on instagram that we all know are fake anyway – so I stop.
Pet animals. My kitten was all over me all day yesterday, napping on my chest, sleeping on my lap. It was like he knew I was sad and did what he could to cheer me up. (It worked.) If you don’t like cats, pet a dog. Or horse, or whatever is available in your area. If you don’t have access to animals, hug a stuffed animal. It really does help (me).
If I did not engage in these practices, I would have easily spiralled. Spiralling depression can last days, weeks, months, years. It looks like: being depressed every day; unable to get enjoyment from activities you once used to; drug and alcohol abuse; missing work and commitments; and much more. I was depressed for years before finally recognizing it and seeing my doctor. With medication, therapy, and the commitment I made to myself to try and get better, I have become the best version of myself.
Again, this may not work for everyone. However, it worked for me. As well, there are other things that you can do such as eat healthy, go for a walk or get outside, and take medication; however, as mentioned before, I am not a doctor, and I encourage you to seek out medical advice from a professional who can help you along your journey to betterment.
Do you have any tips that work for you? Comment below 🙂