Depression is a bitch. Personally, I’ve been dealing with it on and off for at least 16 years. Possibly more. While I’m not in the deep throes of depression, and my visits there are extremely rare (probably only 2-3 times in my life), it is still something I deal with sometimes on a daily or even hourly basis.
And it’s not like manic-depressive of any kind, it can be a slow developing thing that you don’t even realize you’ve slipped back into it until you find yourself day after day not wanting to do anything but hide in bed. And then, ever so slowly, you find something to be happy about. Or the even stranger experience, feeling something like happiness while you’re depressed. It’s hard to describe, but if you’ve experienced it you know what I’m talking about.
Sometimes getting through the day-to-day is hard. But here are a few tips I’ve found that have helped me, get through when I realize I’m slipping.
#1) Realize your emotions are valid. You’re upset. And being upset is ok. You’re allowed to cry. You’re allowed to want to be alone. However, you cannot let these emotions take the reigns.
#2) Recognize what’s going on. Why are you upset? What’s the real reason? Is it because your clothes don’t fit? Or because you have self-esteem issues? What caused those self-esteem issues? Dig deep. It’s going to hurt for a little bit. But I’ve found exercising my rational mind has helped me survive more bad days than not.
Getting to the root of it, and acknowledging that pain can really help you build the tools and methods you need to heel and start living a happier life.
#3) Develop tangible coping methods. What’s in your daily arsenal to put you in a better mood and to allow you to release whatever it is that has a hold of your life right now.
I journal. Or, I used to. I could fill notebook upon notebook of everything that was going on in my head. Good and bad. Most of it was bad. But I let it all out.
I call my mom. God bless that woman. My mom has a fairly rational mind. She’s able to help me navigate through the wibbly-wobbly mess that is my emotional brain. I’m about to talk things out with her, and she lets me do a lot of the talking and guides me towards the solutions that I didn’t even know I knew. But having that person that I know I can talk to regardless of what’s going on, it’s priceless. Granted, make sure the person is willing to take on that burden. Because it is a burden for them, but someone who truly loves you will help carry that and has their own methods for coping with how they help you. And that means when you’re well enough, you’ve got to pay it forward and help too. Luckily for humanity, there are people out there who do this professionally and there is no shame in seeking them out.
I find music that makes me happy. Especially for smaller matters, I just need to clear my mind of everything going on. There’s just certain music that really helps. For me, most of the time it’s Mucca. But yes, I went through my emo phase where I cry-sang my little heart out with my iPod in my bedroom.
I develop calming rituals. Sometimes it’s just a breathing exercise. Other times it’s laying on the floor with my eyes closed. Last summer it was going to the beach and putting my feet in the lake. Currently? Counting. On my commute I’ll count pick up trucks on Lake Shore Drive. I’ll count the seconds of traffic lights. Or I’ll just start counting to 60 and starting again. I’ve found this also helps with any anxiety too.
#4) Breathe. Seriously. This is important. Stop what you’re doing and take a deep breath in and out. Slowly. Repeat as needed. You may think the world is collapsing around you, but you need to stop and freeze yourself, your thoughts, and just breathe. Go back to #2 and #3 and get to the root of the issue. It won’t be easy. A lot of our small bad days are tied to BIG issues, but keep taking these small steps and you’ll be surprised at how far you’ve really gone.
How do you cope with mild depression? Share your favorite (or current) methods to getting back onto a path of happiness.
Never be afraid to ask for help, no matter the mildness or severity of what you’re going through. I know it sounds cliche, but seriously, you are never truly alone. Ever.
If you’re dealing with more than just mild depression, please please please seek out the help you need. Suicide Prevention Services of America is one resource. As is Depression Help Guide. If you need to talk to someone, call 1-800-273-8255. Here’s a list of other numbers to call if you need help.