Monday, December 17, 2007

Twelve Things You Can Do Right Now to Fight Off Depression

I wrote the following two Saturdays ago. I then became sidetracked by family responsibilities and was unable to finish working on the list I created. I also worried it was too self-indulgent to post. Today I decided "What the heck." Besides, I completely missed celebrating National Toilet Day last November 19th and I'm more than a little bummed about it. I could use a pick me up.

(cc) Douglas Cootey8 December 2007
I woke up depressed today. Here's how I dealt with it.

First, I wallowed. I didn't mean to. It sort of snuck up on me. There I sat in my pajamas, poking at the internet, and wondering what was wrong with me. I tossed a few comments out into the Twitterverse and nobody echoed back. Then I noticed a girl who I had stopped following on Twitter had stopped following me. That made me sad for some reason. She had such foul mouthed posts, posted pictures of herself being drunk on, she was sixteen years younger than I, etc. We had so little in common, and yet there I sat. Sad. And still no comments back.

"Nobody cares about me," I said out loud. I said it a few more times. There was a dark power to those words. Somehow "admitting" the truth felt good. The Depression swelled. That's when I realized it was all a pile of used cat liter. I saw my nine year old daughter in my mind and realized that "nobody cared about me" except my family. And my friends. And the random people who thank me for my articles. And the sister at church who thanked me last Sunday for my testimony from several weeks ago. And the Discover Card company. They care deeply about me, I'm sure of it. Depression is seductive. It can convince the mind with waves of flowing emotion that the world really is as black as it feels, but it is all a lie.

Truth was, I didn't care about me because I was tired and depressed. I talked with my wife for a bit, got a hug from a daughter, and felt a lot better. Then I said sarcastically, referring to nay-sayers who occasionally comment on this blog, "But I don't really have Depression." We had a good laugh and that's when I realized I could write about this very moment. 

So, without further distraction, here is a list of things I am going to do today to fight off Depression. It's a personal list, but you can certainly adapt it to your own needs. In fact, I'd love it if you'd post your own list in the comments.

  1. Hug my kids

    It's excessively mushy, but I can't think of anything more immediately beneficial for my heart.

  2. Step outside. Enjoy the weather. 

    It may be good, it may be bad, but you're alive today to enjoy it. That may not seem like much, but considering how much death and violence there is in the world, it's not a bad place to start.

  3. Smile practice

    Yes, it sounds daft but for years I have occasionally stood in front of a mirror and forced myself to smile. It came from years ago when Depression ruled my every breathing moment and I had forgotten how to smile. My face was almost permanently drawn downward. Smiling was work and so I set about to break my face with the weirdest exercises I had ever done in my life. You want to know something? It works.

  4. Draw

    I'm neurologically off today so anything I draw will be bad by my standards (or any standards for that matter), but I really wanted to have that on my list today. I like how I feel about myself when I draw.

  5. Make cookies

    I promised to teach my twelve year old Elf how to do that and so today's as good a day as any. Besides, I make a mean cookie.

  6. Play my pennywhistle

    Always makes me happy, even if I'm not as neurologically deft as I'd like to be.

  7. Make a snowman

    My nine and six year olds insist this will really help me not be sad anymore. 

  8. Exercise

    What the heck. My belly doesn't make me happy. Might as well take my frustrations out on it.

  9. Jam with my daughter

    My oldest daughter is hoping to put together a home brewed album. She needs me to play backup on her songs. Besides, it will be fun to spend some time with her.

  10. Clean my studio

    Yep, it's messy again. I always find my spirits lifted if I clean something. You don't have to worry about me becoming obsessive compulsive. I'm not THAT tidy.

  11. Take a nap

    Yep, I'm getting old. But putting that aside for the moment, taking a nap helps reset the mind and renew your energies. In fact, I may take one right now.

  12. Hang out with friends

    My weekly gathering with friends is for tonight. Years ago, I set up a regular meeting every Saturday. My friends show up automatically. They only stay away if there is sickness in the house. This means that they come even if I'm depressed, or ticking. It's embarrassing to feel so exposed, but by the end of the evening I am thankful for their companionship.

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