Sometimes I feel like shit & nothing seems to help. Doing nothing feeds the morbid cycle. In these times the only way up is through it. These are my earliest coping mechanisms that have served me through every major bout of depression. As long as I can keep doing the work putting one foot in front of the other I know I will be ok. For now the cogs still turn so it’s my duty to oil them rain or shine until they grind to an eternal hault.
Bethani’s 10 step plan for working her way out of depression:
1. A strict daily schedule must be maintained. Not so strict as to be inflexible to the winds of change, but sturdy enough to latch onto in the thick of a storm.
2. Daily exercise of the mind, body, and spirit are a must. Yoga asana & rest for the body, reading & learning new things for the mind, meditation & art for the spirit.
3. Meals should be simple & consumed regularly. Whatever requires the least thought & energy to prepare. Small regular meals are best that require little to no prep or clean up. Peanutbutter is my go to.
4. Go to bed early. Really it is ok. If you only manage to sleep until 4:00 or 5:00 then you will have a beautiful quiet window to practice your yoga or catch up on your reading. But really nothing productive happens after 8:00 pm anyways don’t worry.
5. Treat yourself to something fun once a week even if you don’t feel like it. For me that usually means getting real dolled up and going for a fancy meal alone. Sometimes it’s going to a show with friends. Other times it’s spending a whole day in bed with a lover. It’s easy to cancel plans indefinitely until you feel better, but try to find one thing a week that feels manageable and commit to doing it even if you still feel awful.
6. Tell your friends how you are doing. It’s ok if you don’t tell everyone, but make sure you have told at least one or two people how you are really doing. It’s ok if you don’t want to talk about it but let them know so that you are not alone.
7. Stop spending money as much as possible. It’s very tempting to think of all kinds of things that might make you feel better, but more often than not you end up over spending when you’re depressed and regretting it later. Use your lack of energy as a time to be frugal and watch your savings grow for when you are feeling better and able to enjoy it.
8. Avoid drinking to excess/at all. A drink with a friend might be the pick me up you need (see 5), but a drink after work every night quickly leads to self loathing (see 7). Alcohol is already a depresssnat and if you are following step 6 most your friends should be understanding if you want to find other ways to connect.
9. Pamper yourself in nice smelling things. Don’t underestimate the healing powers of a hot shower. The smell of rot & death has a tendency to subtly creep in when depression hits. A few drops of essential oil, or a freshly washed t-shirt sometimes is the small reminder you need that there is good in the world.
10. Whenever you can be helpful to someone else. Pay them a compliment, give them your spare change, bring someone coffee, help them tidy up. These small gestures will help you feel connected to someone else, and remind you of the positive things that you can bring to the world.
11. You will probably still feel like shit even after doing all these things. Remember everything is temporary and at least you gave it the good old college try. You can create a nice life even when you are too sad to enjoy it and that’s kind of magical in itself.