You’re so depressed you can’t get out of bed. You’re so anxious you can’t stop moving. Maybe both. That latest medication or treatment seems to be helping. Or you’re thinking nothing’s ever going to work. Regardless, simply getting through the day is a Challenge. I’ve been there.
Here are some things I’ve tried that might help you:
If you had a broken leg you wouldn’t think. “I shouldn’t have a broken leg.” But if you’re depressed , it easy to think, “I shouldn’t have be depressed,” or “I should calm down.” In our culture, we pride ourselves on pushing through things. When your depressed, however, “beating yourself up” only increases your sense of helplessness. It’s okay if you aren’t as much fun to be around. It’s okay if you’re not as productive as usual. You don’t have a broken leg- you have a broken heart. And it takes time to heal.
Take small steps,p. Lying in bed wishing you could just pull the covers over your head and go back to sleep? It’s okay to keep lying there. Maybe do one small thing that might make you feel better. Like smile for 10 seconds. Or stretch a little. I know you don’t feel like smiling or stretching. But give it a shot. Maybe you manage to get up but don’t feel like doing anything. Make some tea or coffee, go to a comfortable chair and look out the window. Sit outside if the weather’s nice. In the winter you can zip yourself into a sleeping bag or cover yourself with blankets. I was so manic I had to get out of bed (often at 4 or 5 a.m.) I cannot sit and meditate even though I’d done it for years. I was, however, able to take a few deep breaths once in awhile. That was the best I could do, so that’s what I did.
Take a hike. It is exercise that’s important for mental health. It’s an accomplishment that makes you feel better. There’s no need to do some heavy-duty work out. If you feel like hiking, walk. If you don’t feel like walking stroll, just move your body a bit every day.
Even though I walked a lot, I still felt trapped inside my own head. So I’d try to feel my feet on the ground- just a few seconds. Or look at something outside my brain- a tree, a flower, the sky. Taking a little hike or walk someplace you’ve never been before can help pull you out of yourself a bit. Ok admit sometimes I hugged a tree. I felt really silly doing it, but I could actually feel some of my anxiety dissolve into some of the tree. Don’t knock it until you give it a try.
Get a massage. Whether you’re depressed or anxious, massage is one of the best always to be kind to yourself. So are other “hand on” treatments. Scheduling a massage give to something to look forward to once in a awhile. I don’t do this as much as I should, but even if a family member or partner does this it calms you down being completely relaxed. The don’t have to have any special skills. My only advise to you is that deep massage techniques like shiatsu or Rolfing can bring up emotional stuff. So it would be best if the person doing has experience massaging clients with depression and mania.
When you’re depressed being asked to think positively can be like asking someone who’s color-blind to see red. But you can pretend to think positively. Again just a few seconds, or a minute. Say to yourself, or out load, “I feel fabulous, I feel fabulous.” Think of it like a prayer or the way children m”make believe “ in order to have different experiences.
Write or draw. Describing you experience can give you a little distance from it. For example, I used to write letters to my mother asking her why she did the things to me she did, or a venting letter on how she made me feel and how she messed up my life. It would clear my mind of all the thoughts rolling around in my head. I would tear them up afterwards. Drawing can also help get thing’s unstuck. You don’t have to be an artist. Scribbling is just as effective. Use lots of colors.
Talk to friends. This is a bit tricky. Because most friends want you to feel better so, badly, they often make suggestions that make you feel inadequate. It’s okay to ask a friend just to listen. Just listen. To only make suggestions if you ask them for it. It’s also ok not to talk. Marilyn Monroe, said “ it’s often just enough to be with someone. I don’t need to touch them. Not even talk. A feeling passes between you both. You’re not alone.”
Cry and scream. Crying is not a sign of weakness. It’s a way to let go. I wouldn’t over do it in front of the kids or at work, but when you can find a safe place to just let it go…let it go.