And forget not that the earth delights to feel your bare feet and the winds long to play with your hair. ~ Kahlil Gibran

Thursday, August 20, 2009

How To Pull Yourself Out of a Depressive Funk

Disclaimer: I am NOT a professional. This should not be taken as medical advice. This is a list of things that work for ME. If you are truly depressed, please see a professional (as in, a doctor) and get treatment.

1. Put down the potato chips/ice cream/chocolate bar/whatever. Yes, it does matter, and if you continue to eat that your backside is going to expand into a very real cause to be depressed. Do yourself a favor and just put it down now.

2. Do a self-check. Did you take your meds? If not, take them now. Call your hubby/boyfriend/sister/mom/whoever and ask them to call and remind you to take them for the next few scheduled doses. Meds only work if you TAKE THEM, and they are the first thing you forget when you are feeling crappy.

3. Take a shower. Seriously. If you are feeling down enough to be looking at this, you probably haven't showered in a couple of days. Even if you showered already today, do it again. Use the smelly soaps that you keep saving for a 'special occasion'. YOU are a special occasion. Make sure to brush your teeth, too. That cookie dough ice cream you have been snarfing is going to rot your teeth right out.

4. Clean up the house. Even if all you can manage is picking up in the room that you were using to feel sorry for yourself, do it. Cluttered surroundings make you feel worse. They bring on feelings of guilt and clutter up your thinking processes. Trust me, you will feel better when you can see the floor.

5. Take a walk. Get outside, breathe deeply. I don't care if it's -40 deg F. The stale air inside is just making you feel cruddier. Move your body. Studies show that exercise helps with depression. Don't make it miserable, a slow ramble around the block will do. Just get out and MOVE.

6. When you come back to the house, open the drapes/blinds/whatever. If it is night time, turn on some lights. You can't expect to be cheerful when you are sitting there in the dark.

7. Call a friend. No, you are not being a burden. Yes, they really love you. Tell them how crappy you feel, and let them help you realise that there is NO REASON to feel that way. Or, if there is a reason, let them help you figure out a way to fix it.

8. Take action. Like stated above, if there is an underlying cause to your depression DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT. Fight with your significant other? Sit down and work it out with them. Money troubles? Make yourself a budget. Feeling lonely? Make plans to go out. Feeling stupid? Take a subject - any subject - and head to the library or online and learn as much about it as you can. The point is, don't sit on your backside and feel badly about things that can be fixed. There is always something you can do to feel that you have a better handle on things.

9. Have a positive self pep talk. So you will feel stupid the first few times you stand in front of the mirror telling yourself that you are a worthy individual. Does it matter if it works? It DOES work, oddly enough. Keep telling yourself that everything is going to be okay, that nothing lasts forever, that you are loved and loving....whatever you need to hear.

10. Write it down. This goes two ways.
a) Write down all the bad stuff. All the bad feelings, all the anger, all the hurt. Get it out. But make sure that once you have written it down, you don't let it back into your head.
b) Write down all the good stuff. Write positive affirmations. It doesn't matter how silly they sound. Write that you love yourself, that you are special and talented. Be specific, be vague. Write them over and over and OVER. Fill a notebook if that's what it takes to believe it.

11. Do something for someone else. It is really hard to think of yourself as worthless when you are taking the time to make someone else smile. Take the focus off yourself for a bit. Depression is a selfish disease, and the more you focus on your own misery, the more you feed it.

12. Breathe. We all forget how the simple act of breathing deeply and focusing on that can relax us. It slows racing thoughts and centers you.

13. Surround yourself with pleasant scents. If you are into aromatherapy, there are specific scents that are supposed to combat depression, but I find that anything pleasant will do. Lavender is a favorite of mine, as well as pine and cedar. Whatever makes you feel good when you smell it, use that. Invest in good smelling candles, incense, those wax bars that you melt in a burner....whatever. Bake some cookies or a pie if that smell makes you happy. Put some cloves and other spices in a pot of water on the stove. Simmer it on low. Let the scents work their magic. Think about pleasant things you associate with those smells.

14. Make sure you are treating your body right. Drink some water, eat some veggies. If you treat your body well, it will treat you well. A lot of times depression hits with physical aches as well as emotional ones. Make sure that your body is as fit as possible to combat these pains.

15. Above all, remember this: YOU ARE A GIFT. Every person on this earth, no matter how badly they have messed up, no badly how badly they have been hurt, no matter how little it may seem that they have contributed has a gift to share. If you can't think of what yours may be, just be patient and observant. It may be that you are so busy being depressed that you aren't hearing and seeing the wonderful things you do and are. Or it may be that the special thing you are to do, or special way you are to be, just hasn't happened yet. Trust that it WILL happen.


Deb said...

This is so true, even for people who aren't on meds. I sometimes feel myself in the grip, spiraling downward, and the BEST thing I've found for that is to go for a run. While I'm running I let my mind wander, sort out whatever it is that triggered the mood, and give myself the pep talk. Recently, in the depths of money woes, I sat down and hammered out a budget. It gave me a sense of control and a perspective that things weren't really all that bad.

You have a lot of wisdom, Barefoot. That is your gift. Thanks for sharing it!

barefoot gardener said...

Thanks, Deb!

It never ceases to amaze me how small the demons that cause such fright in our lives really are once we get some perspective. Often, dealing with the fear is worse than dealing with the actual problem....

jenny said...

This advice is good even for those who do not have depression. I don't have depression, but you have listed several things that make me feel better when I accomplish those things-- like cleaning up the clutter. Just looking at the mess in the basement could send me into depression! Meanwhile, on the main floor, the house is slowly getting de-cluttered and it makes me feel so much better-- lighter, freer, happier!

I'm the opposite, I like those grey and dreary days. Call me weird, but I find them the perfect days to bake and get things done around the house.

Hang in there, hon! :o)

Lisa said...

You lost me at "put down the chocolate bar...."


Wendy said...

I think you point out two very important things (well, three, if you inlude #1 on your list ;) in your list - the importance of diet and fresh air and sunshine in relation to overall well-being.

My husband went in for a check-up recently, and the doctor found that he was Vitamin D deficient. The only way to really get good doses of Vitamin D is for the body to make it from sunshine. Vitamin D deficiency does a lot more than just causing rickets. So, I thought, I'm probably deficient, too, and I started making an effort to get outside in the sun for a bit every single (sunny) day. I feel great! And just from a little sunlight. It's amazing how resilient and regenerative our bodies are ;).

Thanks for the list. It's great!

barefoot gardener said...

I used to love grey and rainy days. I still do, in theory. I just find that too many in a row makes an impact on my emotional state. Maybe someday I will be able to enjoy them again....

Be strong, girl! You can do it....

I was just listening to something on the radio this morning about Vit D deficiency. It was really interesting, and I have that on my list of things to research a little more....

Anonymous said...

Thank you so so much. I needed this great advice.:)

Anonymous said...

This helped a lot, except for the comment about depression being a selfish disease. I hope you don't mean that we are selfish.

Anonymous said...

Hey thanks for the advice! Ur better then my therapist!