Friday, May 18, 2012

Help yourself

I think it's important for people to understand that depression is really an illness. The one thing I can do to help others understand is to be open about my own struggles - so I am.

After I re-read that post, I got to thinking...I don't want it to sound like an excuse. Just because a person suffers from depression, she's not off the hook when it comes to protecting her own health. I mean, if you have high blood pressure, you don't add salt to your soup, ya know? People with depression have to take care of themselves, too.

Having gone from being worried and/or depressed all the time, to a relatively even mood on the medication, I've become hyper-aware when I'm extra sad or worried. I know, without a doubt, when something isn't right with my feelings or mood or behavior.

How do I handle that? Many ways. If it's really bad, an adjustment to medication might be in order. I prefer to stay away from that if I can. Actually - I've avoided it altogether, and have never adjusted the dosage.

I prefer to sit down and have a heart-to-heart with myself, to figure out what is causing the spike in worry or sadness. Did something happen? Am I hormonal? Can I fix it by eating a little better that week, or exercising more? Maybe I need to make sure to take a break during my workday. Or maybe I need a day off altogether.

What about counseling? I swear, everyone needs counseling. Those that think they don't are usually the ones who need it the most. It never hurts to have someone help you reframe the worry, and suggest ways to cope.

Talk to your friends. They care (if they don't - get new friends). Lean on them. Ask for help and support. You would if you had the flu; this is no different.

Keep a journal. If you're tracking how you feel and when you feel that way, it might be easier to figure out the trigger. You'll have a much better chance of fixing the problem if you understand its cause.

Accept that not everything is in your control. Whether it's God, or the cosmos, or the tooth fairy that you belive in, find a way to be OK with the fact that there are some things you just can't fix - and it does you no good to worry. Concentrate on the things you can control. You won't ever be able to fix how another person feels about you, or the economy's effect on your job, or who in your family is affected by cancer. But you absolutely can control how you react to any of those things.

Listen - I'm no expert. I'm just a 30-something who has been through some things, and gotten to know myself better in the process. These are things that I've done, that have worked for me at different times in my life. I don't think anyone should be embarrassed to ask for help. I also think everyone should be willing to help themselves.

I was. And I'm grateful every day.

Helpful links:


  1. I completely agree with everything you've written. It's just so hard to do something when depression steals every bit of motivation from you.

    You're doing something very right, and I appreciate that deeply.

    1. I totally get a lack of motivation. Less than three weeks ago, I could barely get out of bed. In this case, I knew why it was happening, but that didn't change the fact that it was happening.

      I forced myself to reach out to friends, and accept their help. Truthfully, a part of me found some motivation there because I knew they wanted me to get better and I didn't want to let them down.

      So I forced it. A good friend said to me not long ago that sometimes "fake it til you make it" really does work.

      So I do. If I don't want to get going, I force myself. Sometimes it takes all the energy I have. By the end of the day I feel like I've run a marathon, and all I did was go to work and come home.

      So what? I did it. And I can sleep, and then try again the next day.

      Sometimes being happy really is a choice you make.

    2. I'm going to print 'Fake it 'til you make it' and tape it to my dresser! A powerful truth there.

  2. Fake you til you make it is for sure a part of my coping mechanism! And you listed several good things for people to try when they find themselves in a depressed state. What I like the most when I am well counseled and medicated is that I have "normal" emotions and am not stuck in a anxiety ridden depression! Keep up the good work!!!