I've wracked my brain all month and honestly, I don’t have an answer. I struggle with feelings of depression quite often myself. I’ve written about my own bouts of depression a few times before, but certainly not as often as I could have or as often as I’ve felt them. When I’m depressed I try my hardest of hide it from the world. Even right now, I find myself struggling against letting depression set in as I go through a tough time of uncertainty. And still, when people ask me how I’m doing I say I’m fine. Pete and I hanging in, we’re excited for new opportunities in our lives, yada yada yada. That’s all true to an extent, except for the part where I’m doing fine . . . . because I’m kind of not. But at least, for now, I’m trying to fight the depression off instead of surrendering to it completely.
The thing about depression is that before anyone can help me, I know I first have to help myself. I don’t have a magic formula for pulling myself out of depression, but here are a few things that seem to help me turn the tide:
- Have a Big Fat Wallow Day!! Many of us often feel we shouldn’t be depressed, we have good lives and we know others walk a harder road than we do. I tend to beat myself up for feeling depressed, which only makes me more depressed. So I thought about Diabetes Wallow Days and how much they help when Diabetes Burnout hits. Recently I decided to do the same thing with depression. I allowed one day to mope, cry, eat junk, feel terrible, do absolutely nothing, and just wallow in the suckiness of my mood. And the next day, I was ready to start fighting my way back again.
- Succeed. It’s hard to be depressed when you are doing really well at something, so I try to find just one small thing to succeed at. For me, it’s been tracking my calories and keeping up with my weigh loss goals. My first goal in the journey is to lose 10 pounds by March 12th, and as of last Monday I only have about half a pound left to go.
- Do stuff. When I’m blue I let the house get messy, the laundry pile up and the cupboards go bare. And it makes me feel worse. So it’s important to push yourself to do stuff, even small stuff. Straighten up one room. Vacuum the floors. Do just one load of laundry. Take a quick trip to the store to get something healthy but tasty for the fridge. One small step at a time can actually be huge.
Okay, now that we’ve helped ourselves, how about helping others? In fact, I’m willing to bet that helping others will help ourselves too. It’s hard to be depressed when you know you are helping someone who needs you. How can we help the DOC?
- Check on quiet friends. Others have mentioned the same thing I’ve been thinking in their Blog Carnival posts - silence on-line is often a red flag for depression. (I know I’m a lot more absent when I’m depressed.) Make a mental note (or actual list) of who might be feeling down and check in on them. Email. tweet, drop by their blog - just let them know you care!
- Keep the discussion going! As I’ve admitted already, I tend to pretend things are okay even when they aren’t. I think we should discuss depression more as a community and continue to brainstorm ways to help ourselves - even after the February blog carnival is over. Are you with me?