How I Stay Afloat During Spells of Depression
Depression lingers even on the good days. The goal is to keep track and know when I’m going to sink. I do this with a calendar. I track my mood each day by color. Once I began doing this I discovered there is a pattern. I was able to prepare myself for when a wave swallows me whole.
I take an antidepressant. It’s certainly not a cure all but it aids greatly. I consider myself high functioning but I believe if I weren’t able to dictate my own schedule I would struggle more. I lose time in the sense that days just pass by. I have irregular sleeping habits. I may sleep 4–5 hours during the night, if at all and then a couple of hours during the day.
To keep myself on track I have a never ending list. I have a note pad dedicated to scratching off items and adding items each day. When I feel lost or I’m in the dark I refer to the list. I like this because it’s mindless. I already know what I could be doing in the moment so I’m able to focus on getting myself to do it. This helps immensely.
I tend to isolate. I find it easy to never leave the house and not notice I’m doing it. I know others who experience depression and they have told me they find it difficult to concentrate. I find it difficult to concentrate during spells of mania but during depression I have tunnel vision. I love to write and once I start writing I bury myself in the story.
Although I isolate in my life, I write openly about my feelings, thoughts and experiences. I feel fulfilled writing, sharing my stories and connecting with readers. Writing is my most valuable outlet.
To combat the desire for isolation I have a regular weekly schedule of when I will leave the house. Every day I debate with myself. I have excuse upon excuse of why I shouldn’t go, but I do regardless of how I’m feeling. I find that once I follow through I feel better.
I go walk the track at the Recreation Center Monday, Wednesday and Friday mornings and attend yoga class on Monday and Wednesday evenings with my husband. I also exercise at home. It’s a major coping mechanism for me.
Tuesday and Thursday afternoons I spend researching and writing at the library.
On the weekends my husband and I will spend a day in the city grocery shopping and other household needs. We’ve recently become aware of being stuck in this trend and have agreed to plan weekend day trips every other weekend and check out highlights in our area. It’s given me something to look forward to.
I also have a regular self- care list to help maintain my mood. It’s the background on my desktop. It’s always there staring back at me.
I find all of these things help during times of struggle. It’s really just a matter of figuring out what works best. The most important thing for me, no matter what, is that I make myself follow through. When I don’t, I sink immediately.
If I were to describe what experiencing depression feels like for me I would say it’s physical. My body aches, lethargy, I’m nauseous, get migraines, I don’t sleep at all and the depression itself is the weight of a cinder block chained to me, constantly pulling me down.
Before I began taking the antidepressant suicidal ideation was a real thing for me but once I was stable on the medication I was able to get relief and the thoughts lifted. I still have a crisis plan in place should those thoughts return.
I don’t so much experience negative self-talk or feeling badly about myself. I have an awareness of my depression. It’s not situational. It’s a chemical imbalance. It’s not a part of me. It’s something I experience. If I were asked, I would say I live a happy life. I feel rewarded and content.
I don’t think I would change anything because if I were to rid of the bad experiences I would be compromising all the good I experience as well.
I do enjoy doing things, many things and I am sure to invest myself in those things. The more I do the more successful I am in fighting this constant struggle. It is an every day battle.