I was this free-spirited, gregarious kid in high school, but something suddenly shifted when my first severe depressive episode began in my junior year. My extroverted personality became an inward haven of mental torture. My weight rapidly decreased, I wasn't going out with friends as much, I experienced headaches and stomachaches before and during school, and I didn't want to exist. This episode of many lasted for three of the longest months.
It is safe to say that most people have experienced some form of the blues or a single episode of depression, whether your best friend moved away or you weren't able to attend a special event, but those are typically situational. However, living with major depressive disorder is like climbing into a black hole where you can't see the light.
Major depressive disorder (MDD) is a chronic condition that can come and go throughout an individual's lifetime. For some individuals, their MDD episodes may go away on their own, whereas, for others, it can be dangerous and life-threatening, requiring immediate treatment.
Major depressive disorder episodes are longer-lasting, and therefore, it's imperative to watch for any lingering signs and symptoms. However, we want to eventually learn how to pick up on these cues right away before other symptoms have a chance to manifest and feed into our depression.
Living with bipolar disorder with prominent features of depression myself has been a challenge over the years. Still, I have finally learned how crucial it is to be on top of my game to prevent more debilitating episodes. So, here are some tips that will hopefully help you also.
Not lingering in bed is probably one of the first and most crucial steps. When we are severely depressed, it can feel impossible to remove ourselves from our bed, but it will create a vicious downward spiral if we stay in it all day.
One's bedrooms should be a place of serenity, not a dungeon. Therefore, the more we stay in bed, the more negative the association. For instance, if you stay in bed all day, more than likely, you will not be able to fall asleep at night, thus creating an irregular pattern of sleep and increasing your depression.
Getting out of bed when depressed is probably the most challenging of all tasks. Therefore, I suggest taking one baby step at a time by going from your bed to the couch. Even if that's all you can manage, it at least removes you from your bedroom. I also want to advise you to try and avoid watching TV in your bedroom and only go back when it's time to sleep for the night.
Unless one has experienced a severe depressive episode, it is hard to explain how difficult it can be to brush your hair, get dressed, and never mind leave the house. It feels like an impossibility. Therefore, if you've mastered your way to the couch, see if you can take on another task. For instance, empty your bathroom barrel, wash a few spoons, or pick up a couple of things off your floor.
The point of taking on one task at a time is not to overwhelm yourself, especially if you have very little energy to start. Therefore, try not to push yourself too hard too fast as you want to prevent yourself from crashing and giving up altogether. Hopefully, starting with one task will eventually lead to another, thus increasing your self-esteem.
There is typically less reason to get out of bed without a routine. And without structure, it can worsen symptoms of depression. Therefore, start by going to bed and getting up roughly at the same time every day, including weekends. Take your medications on time. Or, how about going straight to the shower when you wake up to get a headstart on your day. Also, see if you can limit your electronic time to other activities that will build upon your self-esteem.
Sticking with a regimen doesn't mean filling up your schedule for the entire day either; it's about doing things that give you a sense of purpose.
Doing nice things for yourself proves that you believe you are worthy and deserve it. So, even if you are struggling with feelings of worthlessness, I want you to try and do at least one thing for yourself. For instance, how about painting your nails, taking a bubble bath, or sipping on your favorite drink. It just might surprise you how good it feels afterward.
Taking care of your health and nutrition is the best gift you can give yourself because a healthy body creates a healthy mind and vice versa.
It took me a long time to build upon each task, but when I eventually mastered them, my next step was to exercise and eat right, as cliché as that may sound. However, if I don't do either now, I feel more anxious and on edge the entire day.
Not everyone likes to exercise, but even if it's the slightest act to get your body moving, it is what's most important. Maybe you prefer gardening or vacuuming in the house. Or, how about taking a five-minute relaxing pace around your neighborhood,
I believe that eating healthy is balancing what you eat, not necessarily cutting out everything. However, that doesn't mean it appeals to everyone either. So, perhaps you can improvise a little. For instance, when my kids were young, I would add a spoonful of peanut butter to their carrots or some whipped cream to their strawberries to make it more enjoyable.
There is nothing wrong with wanting to be alone, but isolating and disassociating yourself from everyone can lead you down a dark slope, and you don't deserve that path.
As human beings, we all need some form of connection to thrive. Therefore, seeking support and reaching out for help is the most important thing you can do for yourself. Whether you choose to talk with a trusted friend or mentor, attend a support group, or seek mental health counseling or medication management, ensure that it helps get you back on track.
I went through an awful lot of suffering to get to where I am today, but when I finally received the proper treatment and support, fought back, and began to believe in myself, is when my life eventually turned around. Therefore, it's time you start to believe in yourself and fight back, too. And if you are currently struggling, keep holding on because although it may not feel like it now, there is a light at the end of the tunnel.