Living Well While Depressed

I appear to have a biological problem with depression because sometimes I’m depressed for no reason. Not for no good reason, but for no reason at all. There’s no undue stress, no lack of support, no terrible thing happened, no significant monetary problems or medical issues, no family drama. Life is, in point of fact, pretty nifty!

But sometimes I’m depressed anyway.

While I cannot will the depression away, there are certain behaviors that are depression-indulgent. Anything you do that feeds the depression or makes you feel worse about yourself counts as indulging the depression. Here are a few of them and what I do about it.

Being immobile. This can mean just laying in bed all day to allowing yourself to bury your head in your hands and just sit there in sadness, and possibly frustration, at being depressed for nothing. This and similar behaviors feed the depression. You’re not doing anything worthwhile or productive which makes you feel worse about yourself which in turn makes you feel even more depressed.

Get up, shower, get dressed. Go jogging or do some other form of exercise. I did not want to jog when it came time to do so, but I did it anyway. The joy afterward was tempered but the depression did not feel so deep.

Brushing people off. Your kid, your spouse, your pets, your friends, they’re all just sorta there and you stop attending to them. This makes them feel awful, (this is the sort of sharing you do not want to be doing, right?) and because you know it’s your fault they feel that way which, again, makes you feel even worse about yourself. You already feel awful, don’t make it worse for yourself.

Be honest about your depression. My kiddo was annoying me by wanting to hug me all the time since I “looked like I needed a hug.” I finally had to tell her, look,  I’m depressed right now, no reason for it, so I’m not trying to be mean I just need some space and I need you to not argue with me right now. When she argues with me it’s harder to let that go and do some kind of activity with her later. The kiddo was able to modify her behavior to help make things easier on me. Being honest with the people around you helps them better support you in your time of need.

Entertaining cutting for relief. It may sound crazy but that’s why depressed people cut themselves. It’s an emotional relief, but it’s a bad one. The relief is temporary and sometimes cutters will accidentally cut too deep or in the wrong place thereby ending the life of the cutter. Cutting is an act of desperation and entertaining it with your thoughts, running your fingers up along your forearm, scratching your arms, or actually cutting, all fan the flames of desperation.

This one is simple, occupy your hands with something else. Clean, make food for someone, write, do some art, anything to keep your hands away from your forearms.

Focusing your thoughts on despair. Those thoughts may sound something like this: Argh, I’m depressed; OMG I’m depressed; this sucks so much; there’s nothing I can do (about being depressed); I can’t take it (depression) anymore; oh well, it doesn’t matter anyway. Oy, all of that, and anything like it, kills the soul’s capacity to endure and keep living life anyway.

“Our thoughts form the universe, they always matter” (G’kara in Babylon 5). Our thoughts affect how we interact with the living pieces of the universe we live in. You may feel depressed but you do not have to think depressed. You can do this by being matter-of-fact about it. Okay, I’m depressed, but I still gotta do this set of things so time to make a plan on how to do those things anyway. Work around the depression.

Depression makes for a terrible master of the soul. This is why I continue to do what I do anyway, because if I do not I’ll feel worse. I refuse to feed the cycle. Depressed as hell, I’ll do my homework anyway. I’ll hug, kiss, smile and play with my kid anyway. The same can be said for how I interact with my husband. I ignore the horrible feeling of wanting to just crawl in a hole and disengage from active living.

When those horrible feelings do surface I start thinking about all the things I’d miss out on, all the people I’d disappoint and how much I’d be letting down our Heavenly Parents, all of which makes me feel dreadful; the kind of dreadful that says, screw you depression, I’m gonna do what I want anyway. I will do whatever it takes to live well no matter what.

I want the depression to end. I want to be in my right mind, in my right emotion. I’m now one of the fortunate ones (I used to be suicidal) mine will pass then come again later. Then again, how much of that is luck and how much of that is the complete and utter belief that “this too shall pass?” I do not know. What I do know is that right action and right thinking are vital to living well while depressed. I must say that this attitude of living well when depressed and the belief that “this too shall pass” did not come easily.  It took years of hard work and consistent support from my then-boyfriend, now-husband (this support does not have to come from a spouse, but it does need to come from somewhere, it makes the process easier to bear), and relying on the Lord. It’s been 13 years. Sometimes I still indulge the depression (yeah, that perfection thing, not quite there yet). Even so, overall, life is so much better now.

Essentially you gotta be positive, maybe even annoyingly so, like Pollyanna. It may come in the form of dry or morbid humor, maybe even some irony. You may have to forget about the whole, glass half full, glass half empty, thing. Just focus on the fact that you have a glass and you can fill it with whatever you want. (Or, you can set the cup down and let the depression spit in it. This approach is not recommended.)

I have a glass.

And I’m not letting go of it ever again.

Keep working on right action and right thinking because when you’re depressed for no reason, or even when you are depressed for a reason,  life is still good and ultimately life is still worth living.