Living with mental illness is exhausting. And what’s worse, the summertime can have an opposite effect on my mood. I’m happy in the cold, mildly miserable in the hot, hot heat. Depression sets in and leaves me feeling grumpy in spite of the gorgeous sun-filled days. Like a reverse Seasonal Affective Disorder. As one of my favorite bands sings: I’m only happy when it rains. I feel ya, Shirley Manson (of Garbage).
Nevertheless, I persist. And I work hard to resist the temptation of giving up. As so many of you know, it is tiresome to keep pushing past depressive states. A lot of my heavy fogs come at night. I thought it may be helpful to give some ideas to those of you who suffer from depression, mood disorders, or really anyone. (Disclaimer: always talk to your doctor for medically professional guidance on dealing with depression.)
Work, school, family, friends, me-time. We forget about that last one a lot. Everyone has busy lives that often overshadow taking care of numero uno. But in reality, you are only able to thrive and survive by taking care of yourself first and foremost. Every doctor/therapist/counselor I have had the pleasure of knowing brings up the oxygen mask analogy: you have to put your oxygen mask on first so you have the ability to help your loved ones next to you on that plane put on their masks.
I have a love-hate relationship with this analogy. But, for real, it’s true. Make sure you balance life responsibilities, and be sure to include me-time in that long list of to-do’s. Nourishing my work week with some me-time, especially self-care, makes depression a teensy bit easier to get through. Bubble baths are key. Just sayin’.
But it’s sooo hard, right? Not all of us can, nor should we, be narcissists about it. But that sentence I just wrote says a lot about society. It’s a negative thing to love yourself?? Why? Why is it so bad to develop a loving and caring relationship with yourself? I see it as hugely beneficial to my wellbeing and shifty moods.
When I remind myself that I am good enough, smart enough, and deserve TLC, then it makes the nights that I feel low a smidgen easier to get though. Take advantage of feeling good about who you are, especially when you are feeling well. Next time depressive episodes hit, you can meditate on everything that you love about yourself. It helps pull me back to the present and feel less down on myself. Ain’t no shame in loving beautiful YOU.
Write it out.
Writing about how you are feeling can release some of the sadness that comes with depression. You may not be fully interested in much of anything (I personally get cranky and restless and have little desire to do much when I am feeling my depressive mood), but the amazing effect that writing has on my mood says a lot about the therapeutic benefit it provides me.
Scribble, scratch paper, or write a short poem. I am always amazed at how much better I feel when getting out of my head in those states. And take advantage of writing when you get ready for bed feeling good! It can create an easier time of writing when you are down. If you like, I would recommend sharing with your therapist/doctor and maybe she/he will have suggestions for lessening the power that depression has over you.
But I am LE.TIRED.
Zen take-a zee nap! I find that when nothing else works, and anhedonia is hitting me hard, I get ready for bed, and ride that wave while dreaming. The sun comes out tomorrow, and a new day becomes a fresh start. Major depression may be too much to ride out overnight.
Just remember that when you give it some time, your happiness, interests, and elevated mood will come back. You have it in you, even if you are LE.TIRED of fighting that good fight. I have faith that you will win.
At the end of the day, you won’t be happy until you love yourself.
— LADY GAGA