Hey, everyone. Yesterday I shared my story and I promised to be back today with this list. First I’d like to say thanks to everyone that stopped by. I was seriously considering hiding under the covers yesterday, but a simple click from you changed my whole day (Okay, my whole month).
I’m going to start with the most important one. If you get bored or think my list isn’t for you, I want to know that you at least took away the most important suggestion, the one it has taken me the longest to learn and put into practice.
- Give yourself permission aka Guilt is a jerk.
Give yourself permission to coddle yourself when you need it, and ditch that guilt. Depression is hard enough without feeling bad about what you need to stop feeling bad.
If this or that is what you need, then it’s what you need. Don’t let the haters get you down, especially the one in your head. In the months leading up to my thirtieth birthday, this is the main mental change I made. I’ve come to terms with how I am different. My needs are different, I accept and heed to them.
If I need to just lie down, then I will.
If I need to cry, then I will.
If a party will drain me, then I skip it.
If I need to paint my nails hot pink and bling out my headphones, then I will.
So give yourself permission to be what you need to be to make a go at being happy.
- Tell that witch in your head where to go.
Everyone has an inner critic, but in a depressed mind the critic often has the loudest voice. So tell yours to pipe down. Seriously, I did this for the first time when I was scrubbing the tub one day.
I was thinking about the book I am writing and that voice was all, “Eh, who are you, trying to write a book? Go back to college. No one cares what you have to say, no one wants to know what you think. Who would read this?”
And was like, “Shut up! Just shut up!”
You should have seen the look on her face! Of course this was all happening in my head while I went on scrubbing the tub, which probably proves how crazy I am, but it was a very empowering moment for me. It also makes me smile smugly now whenever I scrub tub scum.
- Read something funny.
If you found me just recently, then you probably found me through Jenny’s retweet. If you didn’t come by way of The Blogess, then you need to take yourself over there and join in on the hilarity that makes her readers snort drinks through their noses and the receivers of strange stares when they look like they are laughing alone in coffee shops and cubicles. You can also buy her first book here and anticipate her second book here.
And I will totally depreciate myself just to hear you laugh. So you can check out this story about the time I almost destroyed my husband’s birthday. (He still doesn’t remember this day as funny, but I appreciate it. Then again, it wasn’t my birthday.)
- Read something lonely.
Okay, I’m probably letting my freak flag fly again, but when I feel lonely, I like reading about lonely but powerful people. Many a survivor vs. nature adventure will suffice, but Jean M Auel’s Valley of the Horses is my stand out favorite in this category. I have owned several copies of this book because the first one lost a few of its pages and the second one mysteriously disappeared. I like to read this one when I am feeling alone because Ayla is so powerfully resourceful and strong in the face of complete lonliness.
- Write in your journal.
There is a reason I get so hyped-up when school supply season starts. I call it spiral season! I like to bring home an entire box of college ruled spirals to last me the whole year. Add some multi-colored medium point pens and it’s a party! Just me? Okay, anyway.
I spend a lot of time writing in my journal. This is the one that helps me the most.
I carry a notebook with me everywhere and in fact, one of the criteria for buying a new purse is Can I fit a notebook in here? If you can’t carry a notebook with you everywhere, you can try the evernote app on your phone. I use evernote for different kinds of writing and it is a very useful app to have on hand.
- A coke in a can and a Hershey bar.
This combination is guaranteed to cure my depression hangover when I have been having a rough day. Sometimes I switch out the Hershey’s for a box of Raisinettes. And sometimes I switch out the coke for
- A glass of Moscato.
- When your kid says, “Look at the rainbow, mommy!” Look at the rainbow. Appreciate life’s little moments with the eyes of a child.
- Go to the grocery store during sample time.
Free food and trying something new generally cheer me right up.
10. Get yourself a good pair of headphones.
Remember how you blasted music in high school? Well, this is how I still do that without waking up the kids. And I may or may not prop my feet on the wall and hang my head upside while I do this.
(What, you thought I was lying about the bling?)
- Go ahead and hide under that blanket, but set an alarm to come out.
Remember how I said “If I need to lie down, then I will?” This is how I accomplish that without losing myself in a sea of sheets and sadness.
12. Act like a kid again.
Build a blanket fort, pretend you’re a princess, line up all your GI Joes then shoot them off the fence with your water gun. Whatever it is that you loved to do as a kid, incorporate it into your adult life. Having kids is a great excuse for many of these activities (bonus: serves double duty as “family bonding”). I take my kids to the park just to take over one of the only two swings. And you know, so they can have fun.
13. Help someone else.
When I worked at a non-profit and learned the realities of the malnourished poor around the world, it helped me with perspective. Not the “People eat bugs where there is nothing else!” that I pull on my kids to get them to eat their broccoli. But just you know, I’m lucky. We’re lucky.
So clean out your closet and drop it off at Goodwill or donate some stuff to a food pantry or bring some old books to the lending library. It will make you feel good and make your house cleaner.
14. Find your Mecca.
For some people, it’s church. For others, it’s the gym. And still others, the mall. For my husband, it’s the junk yard. For me, it’s the library. Nothing makes me feel more replenished than lugging home a bag full of books after spending a quiet hour at the library. It’s like they let you bring heaven home with you! So find your Mecca and make a pilgrimage every week.
- Make something.
It doesn’t have to be good enough to sell on etsy. It just has to be absorbing enough to distract you. Some people knit or draw or play an instrument. I suck at all of that stuff. But I do like to craft found things into collages. Like this vision board I made or this art journal I made.
I also make party decorations for my mom’s store. I get covered in glitter and burn myself with hot glue, but man, is it therapeutic.
16. Talk to someone, but not just anyone.
The year my dad died, a handful of other kids lost close family members too, so one of the guidance counselors took it upon herself to start a bereavement group. We met once a week for like six weeks or something.
This was simultaneously hard and helpful. Hard because I knew I was going to go in crying and come out bawling. Helpful because there is a strange sort of peace from having community with others who have been dealt the same losing hand of cards.
I also monopolized my assigned counselor’s time for most of my sophomore year. I am eternally grateful for her guidance.
So if you are in the deep end of depression, I really urge you to talk to a pro or join a group (which is also more cost effective). They will teach you coping methods that you can pull out of your arsenal whenever things start to feel tough.
But don’t feel like if you can’t afford to talk to a pro, then you’re screwed. Find someone (or if you can spread it out, two or three someones) that you can trust and approach them for a chat.
But keep in mind that these talks can be as draining for them as they are draining or uplifting for you, so use their time sparingly and responsibly.
What I like to do is journal out my feelings then go through what I’ve written to pick out the two or three themes that stick out or are really bothering me. That way, I approach the conversation with a clear idea of my needs instead of rambling randomly for three hours.
A word of caution here. Be wary of who you bare your soul to. There are people who do not understand or have very little patience for depression and talking to someone like that can have adverse effects on your psyche.
Whew, that was probably the longest thing I’ve ever posted! But I hope you have found this list helpful in some way. Please know that there is no cure-all, that every situation is as unique as the soul surviving it. I use all of these, some more (journaling, chocolate), some less (talking about it) and some at the same time (journaling, chocolate). Find a mix that works for you and remember that the right blend will change with life’s seasons. Adjust accordingly.
Now here is the most important part: It’s your turn.
What works or has worked for you that isn’t on my list? Please add your suggestions in the comments. Your thoughts could help someone else win their battle. You can be their sword with one little line of words. Can’t wait to hear from you. And thanks for reading.