I don’t intend this list to be considered ‘rules’. Depression has many causes and comes in many shades of grey (she totally ruined that phrase for me). People experience depression in their own way and what works for one person may not work for the next. This list represents things that were a bad idea for me to do during my last depression. I did each of them at least once and so learned my lessons the hard way.
If you are experiencing depression now and your experience is anything like mine, then I suggest trying not to:
(Pause… Alternatively, if this is the future me reading this, and your depression has come back… then make darn sure that you don’t do any of these things!)
- Research your symptoms on the Internet (did I mention this yet?) Your judgment is currently flawed. Discouraging information will have a more powerful impact on your mood than any encouraging information.
- Stay in bed for too long in the morning. During this time your mind is a magnet for negative thoughts. Wake up and get up. Go about your day as soon as possible so as not to spend too much time inside your own head.
- Spend too much time alone. This is for the same reason that staying in bed too long is a bad idea. Being around people can be exhausting as you constantly ‘fake’ feeling fine, so there is a balance to strike here. However, if you’re going to move from ‘passive’ to ‘active’ thoughts, then it’s much better to have someone around.
- Watch emotional moments on T.V. While depressed I would cry during scenes that would normally leave me unaffected. Stick to comedies.
- Stop eating. You might lose your appetite, but keep fueling yourself. Those shakes that are a meal in a bottle… the one’s people use to replace a meal when they are dieting. Force one of those down if you can’t face eating a meal. You need nutrients.Without the necessary nutrients, you will be unable to manufacture all those ‘feel good’ chemicals that your brain needs.
- Regret the past (easier said than done)
- Worry about the future (also, easier said than done)
- Stop working completely. Work can be exhausting, but it does give us a sense of self-purpose (some jobs more so than others). Consider dropping from full-time to part-time. Half-days can get you up and going in the morning (see point 2), but give you time to rest in the afternoon. Also, when the time comes it will be easier to transition back to work from half-time to full-time, rather than not working at all to full-time.
- Stare off into space. My friends and family just called this ‘the stare’. It was a look that would come over my face when I was thinking about terrible things. It was not the stare itself that was the problem, this was merely a sign of the carnage that was going on inside. Knowing that I did it, sometimes helped me and others to spot when it was happening and move to something more useful to do.
- Try to solve this whole situation on your own. I don’t know why, but you will likely feel like you have to do this on your own, but please, please, please accept all the help you can find (see the next chapter!)
Coming soon: Chapter 6: The Good, The Bad, and The Psychotherapy…