Friday, October 20, 2017

Down in the Dumps? Here Are Seven Steps To Beat Depression

I knew I was in trouble when I looked at the time. It was 12:30 already. Half past noon, and I was still in bed. I was just lying there feeling as if a giant weight was on top of me. I couldn’t move. I didn’t want to. Eat? Nah, too sad. Go to the bathroom? Too much effort. Even social media seemed tiresome. I put my iPhone down and thought in stunned, heavy silence, “I’m depressed.”

Savage bouts of depression can still jump out at me and catch me off guard. I have clinical depression, yet I manage my depression on a daily basis. It doesn’t often get the better of me anymore. There was a time when depression ruled my world, but I have long since put that behind me. Which is exactly why I can be waylaid by depression from time to time. I get lax. I forget to be ever vigilant.

It’s not that I hadn’t seen the warning signs. They were pretty obvious all week. Yet here I was, caught “unawares” because I hadn’t acted on the advance warnings. Since readers have asked me over and over again how I manage my depression without meds, I find it helpful to share my coping strategies.

Let’s start with today. As I was wondering how I was going find the mental strength to get out of my bed, I decided to share my process on Twitter. Already, I’ve employed two coping strategies. I admitted to myself that I was depressed, then I decided on a course of action. Both events are very difficult to do when depression has sway over your mind. Regardless, let’s focus on the tweets where all the action was.

Alright, #depression. I’m going to kick your butt today because so far, you’re kicking mine. Step 1) Move. Doesn’t matter where. Just move.

Moving in that instance meant crawling out of bed. I wish that didn’t sound as pathetic as it does, but it was the most intense bout of depression I had dealt with in years. Crushing waves of sadness washed over me. I felt as if I was drowning in all that black misery. Getting up and moving seems far too easy for a coping strategy, but when you are dealing with hardcore depression, any step forward is a difficult one.

Step 2) Eat! Sometimes when I’m depressed, I forget to eat. Filling your stomach fuels your mind. #depression

I need to eat regularly to manage my Tourette’s, but clearly that wasn’t a high priority for me this morning, so I had to made it one. Up I trudged to the kitchen and made myself a protein shake. I also talked with family a bit. Conversation with friends & family can be healing.

Step 3) Organize something. I filled out disability license form and sleep logs. Both I’d been procrastinating. #depression (and #ADHD)

Filling out forms may not be sexy, but it is taking action, and taking action is often all you need to do to reverse direction.

Waited too long to eat. Started my thumper tic, reserved only for the dinner table. Protein helps keep my #tourettes in control. Avoidable…

Food is kicking in. Ticking has stopped. Sleep logs all caught up. And, as expected, #depression has receded quite a bit.

The #depression no longer feels like an immovable force pressing me down, but more like a weight dragging behind me.

Time for Step 4, but what is it? I have an obligation I’m late for. I need to exercise. Get ready. But all I want to do is sit still.

An hour and a half later, and I was feeling better, but more needed to be done. I didn’t want to slip back.

Step 4) Distraction. I need to stop thinking about #depression for a bit. Give myself more time for food to do its job. Time to read a book.

This was a very good idea. Thirty minutes later, a good book had been read, and I was ready for the next step.

Step 5) Exercise. I need to get going, but want to boost endorphins and drive #depression back further so I can function at my best.

This step took far longer than I had planned, but in the end I felt better. In fact, I felt good.

Step 6) Shower and get ready for the day. It’s 6:23pm, but I’ve vanquished my #depression. So much work for almost no results? Nah. I’m good

When I skip showers (or don’t make my bed), I can see how that carelessness spreads sends out waves throughout my day. To make a change, I force myself to be clean. It makes a difference for me.

At this point, my friends were going to not see me tonight. I had run out of time, but I was finally not depressed.

Step 7) Blog about it. I’m more than a little disappointed at how unproductive today has been. Here’s one way to turn it around. #depression

I have found that creativity is an excellent coping strategy for fending off depression. When you find yourself at the bottom of a well, there are steps you can take to pull yourself back up. There was a day that I would have spent weeks in a blue funk, unable to escape, deep in that well. I don’t want to ever go back to those days, so I make fighting depression a number one priority.

Good luck with your own battle. You can do it, too.

If you liked this peek into my coping strategies, you may enjoy reading my book on fighting suicide.