I present to you:
Tricks to Help you through a Depression
Formatted in list format, to appeal to the younger generation media consumers
1.Care for something other than yourself:
If you’re anything like me, cats and dogs can change your whole day around. I see a puppy on the street and it doesn’t matter whether I’m alone or with a friend you better believe I am the one there to ask to pet your dog. Right before my depression got really bad this last episode, I got a cat. I started to feel down on myself, and thought maybe a cat would help. (I also wanted a legitimate excuse for myself to get a cat.) I registered her as an “Emotional Support Animal,” what seemed like a kind of bullshit/but not bullshit way of keeping an animal in my house with permission from my landlord. I did not, however, no matter how much I read those articles and articles of the benefits, actually believe that having an animal would be so beneficial. It’s not just about having the comfort of an animal, (because believe me, my beloved kitty can be a hell of a demon, and in many different capacities, she has been the opposite of comforting). What they don’t emphasize about the ESAs is that they provide you with a schedule. Even if it’s just a little thing like feeding them or changing their litter box, you do it because it’s for them. They need you to take care of them. They need you to get out of bed in the morning, when you can’t get out of bed in the morning (and otherwise wouldn’t). Even if I did something as small as change Louise’s litter box, I could say hey, I accomplished something today. And with how powerful depression can be, it’s really important to have those little victories.
If you aren’t an animal fan, (or maybe you are terribly allergic, in which case I feel sad for you), find something else to take care of. A plant, even. Maybe some fish, for the allergy community. This way, you always will have a reason to get out of bed in the morning, even if it’s just across the hall.
2. Realize where you are
I hate the way this is stated, because I don’t mean it to come off as some cheesy article written by someone you don’t think know what it feels like. But really. I never paid attention to this, but it is SO important.
Even earlier today, I was in the shower, thinking about the nice water and letting my mind worry about this and that and talking to this person that person until I was like wait. Stop. Close your eyes. Feel the hot water on your shoulder. That feels good. I literally had to coach my brain through this. But I think it’s really important. I think for me, depression means not being sad all the time, but it means lack of clarity. All I can feel with my senses is clouded by my brain.
Where are you right now? Are you comfortable? What does the air smell like? How does it feel when this person tells you about their day? Assess. I think that someday, this will be a habitual thing for me, if I practice enough. Sometimes I think like any other sort of physical rehab, we have to train our brains to start functioning again.
3. Accept the bad days
I told a very close friend of mine that the reason I dropped out of school was because I was terribly depressed. I can’t focus on anything. I can’t get my work done. It’s awful.
His reply: When you feel like you’re starting to feel that way, just, you know, shake it off.
Motherfucker shake it off my ass. I HATED that he said this. I hated it because it was untrue when I was in the depression. And I still hate it now that I have a bit more mental clarity. I hate it because it is totally invalidating. Not only was he shaking off my pain and simplifying it in a way that couldn’t be done for me, it makes me bear the weight of the “failure” I see in myself. Instead, I like to wake up and think, hmmm, why do I feel so shitty today? Did something happen, or do I just feel shitty? Okay. Today may be a bad day for me.
4. Make a schedule
This goes hand in hand with taking care of something, but branches a little further. Some nights before bed, when I was having a really tough time, I would write a note to myself for the next day. This was a tentative schedule that I was to follow for tomorrow. It included when I would get up, when I would work, when I would eat, when I would go grocery shopping, when I had free time, etc. Totally mundane day-to-day things—things you haven’t kept a schedule for since grade school. But you know what? Even if I didn’t always follow it, it helped. Because some days, I would follow it, and through the day, I would have things to check of my list. Little victories. I had accomplished something today.
And somewhere along the way I learned that depression doesn’t mean I am sad. I am depressed, which means that I exist, but feel like I don’t. I am not sad, because I am not anything at all. I am here now. And it sucks. And later on I won’t be here. And maybe someday again I will be. And all of this is fine.