I’m biased, but I tend to think depression is one of the hardest things a person can endure. And there are not enough resources to help people in many situations until it is too far gone or way too late. Depression is stigmatized and the people isolating themselves are isolated further.
But enough of that. Politics don’t belong in a place of help.
Depression sucks the life out of everything. Even though each of us who suffer from depression experience it differently, there is no doubt that it makes the act of living next to impossible. Sometimes there’s a cartoon one-ton weight sitting on our chests in the morning, making getting out of bed unlikely and difficult. Sometimes there’s anger biting at every word, tears flowing for no reason. And sometimes breathing just hurts because being alive is so hard.
As if depression wasn’t enough, it brings all its friends. Anxiety comes to the party preventing sleep, ruining any habits depression hasn’t already set on fire. Buzz the bee flies in bringing those negative thoughts with him and you’re left, head in your hands, feeling like someone dumped blue paint over your eyes.
And there are all kinds of depression, making it so easy to find yourself someday sitting on your bed unable to pick out socks.
So, if you have depression, what do you do?
As someone who has come through a very dark depression without medication (because they just didn’t work for me), I’ve learned some things that, though they were painfully hard for me to do, helped. And it’s the little things that count.
1. Get dressed.
This seems simple enough, but it’s not. Getting dressed is one of the hardest parts of depression in part because you know it should be simple. You’ve been successfully doing this since pre-school and now you can’t even get up to open the dresser. Making sure that you get up and change your clothes every day, doesn’t have to be morning, can help keep you from sinking lower. I’ll say this a lot, but at the end of the day you can look at yourself and see that you have done something.
More importantly than just getting dressed, get dressed up. Look nice. This is even harder to do. But if I felt that I looked nice, or at least wore nice clothes, I felt better. I felt productive. Throughout my depression, this was one of the most important tricks I found. Some days I would walk around the house with a dress on and I felt silly but I also didn’t feel like a fraud in my life. I didn’t feel like a bum. I felt like I actually existed and actually mattered.
2. Make the bed
Another simple task. Except that it isn’t.
This one has two benefits. The first is that you get some physical movement, get blood flowing and at the end of the day, you can say you did something. And you can’t ignore it because you have to pull down the sheets to get inside.
The second one is more subtle. You have to get out of bed and stay out, to have a made bed. This encourages you to spend even a few hours out of bed, around the house, and maybe even going out.
3. Go for a walk/run.
This one is probably one of the hardest things to do. When you can’t put on socks, walking or running seems completely out of the picture. But it is possible. Getting fresh out, seeing the sun (if it’s out), and exercising are all things that have been proven to aid the fight against depression. Again you’ll feel accomplished as heck, maybe not immediately but it’ll happen. At the very least, you’ve done something for your physical health which often takes a beating when dealing with depression.
4. Take a shower.
Last but not least of the little things that might help is taking a shower. Hygiene suffers when we’re depressed. This is not to say depressed people are dirty. It does say that what one is battling a mental illness, they tend to neglect themselves. This involves eating and exercise too. So, hop in the shower, get some nice smelling soap or body wash (if you’re a guy or a girl) and take a long shower.
So, the real question: Will this help? It might, it might not. But everyone one of these things contributes to the overall health of you. I think that makes it worth it. They are the little steps you need to take before the big leaps. Depression won’t magically be gone from your life. But if you work for it, find something that’s right for you, then someday you will wake up and realize your depression had faded over the course of several months or years.
It’ll be okay. Get up, do your thing, push yourself, and go to sleep. It will be okay.