1. People suck. No matter how private your battle is, there will always be some dipshit who takes it upon themselves to inform you that it’s ‘all in your head’ (you think?!) or that you should ‘just deal’ (and you have so many other options, right?) ‘get over it’ and ‘act like an adult’ are two of my personal favorites. Do yourself a favor, and designate a 15ft radius around yourself as a ‘douche free zone’ at all times. Electric fencing is highly suggested, and might be entertaining too.
2. There will be good days and bad days. On the good days, live it up. Appreciate every little thing. Ride the high as long as it lasts. BUT, keep in mind that your current state of bliss probably won’t last. Utilize your newfound energy to prepare easy freezer meals or tackle a large cleaning task. Use your non-depressed self to do your depressed self a big solid.
3. Have a network. Misery needs company (and advice, and constructive feedback, and support.) A few trusted friends and/or family members who are familiar with your struggle and willing to lend a shoulder are worth their weight in gold (or Prozac.)
4. Get a hobby. I discovered crochet during a major depression over a decade ago. Later I took up knitting, embroidery and now photography. Have an interest to turn to in your darker times and divert your attention. Keep your hands busy and your mind as occupied as you can. Embroider a few ‘Suck it, Hater’ throw pillows for the judgemental dickweasels in #1.
5. Read. Books are an instant transport from reality, as well as calisthenics for your brain. I prefer old-school paper books to Kindle format, as a break from electronic devices seems to really help my depression. Too down in the dumps to digest anything scholarly? Then read something trashy. Whatever floats your boat and lift your spirits.
6. Just say ‘No’ to social situations, politely of course. If part of your depression involves social anxiety, a crowded function can be WAY too much to handle. Respectfully decline if necessary. If you must attend, set a time limit. Watching the clock and knowing you have 19 minutes until blessed solitude can mean the difference between a good (albeit awkward) time and a meltdown. Make an appearance and hop back into your safety net before the water gets too rough.
7. A little comfort goes a long way. Yoga pants? Check. No makeup? Check. If putting yourself together physically makes it harder to get yourself together mentally and emotionally, take a few days off. I spent over 6 months with my hair perpetually in a ‘mom bun’ and am 100% good with that. If you’re fighting to get out of bed every morning do you really need to add perfect roller curls to your list of tasks to complete? Nope. Guys, you can always quit shaving. Beards are totally en vogue right now anyways.
8. Know your enemy. Identify your triggers. Know what sends you high and what sends you low. Since one can never eliminate all of those negative elements completely, at least minimize what you can. Consult your network for help in constructing low-trigger environments when you’re struggling.
9. See your doctor. Making your medical professional aware of the situation is ALWAYS a good idea. Depression can even be a symptom of a bigger problem. Doctors can usually point you towards good resources (counseling, therapy, psychiatry, ect) to help you slay your dragon too.
10. Meds don’t make you a weenie. Depression is often chemical, and a simple switch-up can make a huge difference in the severity of your condition. Taking medication isn’t for everyone, but for many sufferers it makes an enormous difference. There’s no shame in going that route if you (and your doctor) feel it could be beneficial.
11. Therapy kicks ass. Seriously. Someone that’s being paid to listen to you bitch and then offer constructive ways to improve your current state of being is an absolute godsend. Your spouse will probably agree… Mine sure does!
12. Be as active as you can. Study after study has linked exercise with a reduction in depression symptoms. When I’m anxious and about to rage, I do squats. Might as well have an awesome butt instead of a felony assault charge, right?
13. Sleep. If you can take naps, take them! Schedule a decent stretch of shut-eye into every day possible. A good night’s rest can do as much for your state of mind as a handful of magic pharmaceuticals.
14. Shun the shame. There are always the mega-douches who want to dismiss depressive disorders as weakness. Screw that ass-backwardsness! You can’t always stop those buttholes from spewing that kind of crap, but you can change how much you let it affect you. Smile, nod, and walk away; let it roll right off your back like water. Because you’re worth more than that.
15. Don’t put all your eggs in one basket. If you have one specific person who generally helps you through your tough times, prepare yourself for the huge possibility that they might, at some point, become unable (or unwilling) to help you any longer. I’ve learned this one myself recently, and it’s been beyond difficult to pull myself out of my current funk without that person’s input. If you find yourself in a deep emotional ravine and realize your trust was misplaced, you have no one left to haul your ass out of there but, you guessed it, yourself. So start climbing. Sooner or later, you’ll make it to the top. When you get there, don’t forget. Trust less easily next time.
16. Have faith that things will get better. Depression is often temporary. Even if you’re a grizzled old veteran of brain-chemical warfare, you can’t recover without the hope that your skies will, in fact, become sunny once again. It will ebb and flow like the tide, and thrashing makes you drown faster. Move with the music, work with the flow and keep your eyes focused on that horizon. The sun could rise at any minute, and it’ll be absolutely beautiful.