I don't do as much as I should to help myself when I'm depressed. I should get outside and walk, but - oh no, it's too cold, and mall walking hurts my feet. Or oh no, it's too hot. Or I just don't even think of it.
Even just sitting outside would be better than staying in the house, but - oh no, it's too hot or cold (again), or oh no, too many mosquitoes.
Okay, it is true that my sun/heat tolerance is poor. I can get dizzy in 75 degrees if I'm just sitting in the sun. Yet I could drive to a forest preserve and walk there - but I don't.
So what does work?
For me, improving depression is all about accomplishment. I feel much worse if I don't get anything done - if my house gets another day's worth of messier, if I don't get an article written or pay my bills as I should. So a lot of the things that do help are those that help me focus on accomplishing tasks.
I make lists - try to make them reasonable, so that I don't face the dreaded "I did a rotten job with my list" at the end of the day. Also, I use timers to push - or limit - myself.
For example, if my list says "15 minutes kitchen," I set a timer so that I really do work on cleaning up the kitchen for 15 minutes. Sometimes my list will say "5 minutes kitchen" - because that's all I think I can do at that time. And often at the end of 5 minutes, I reset the timer for 5 more - which gives me an additional positive feeling of accomplishment.
I try to establish routines. A simple one happens first thing every morning: on my way back from the bathroom, I go into the office, start the computer, and grab the ashtray, putting it on the hall railing by the stairs. After I'm dressed, I take the ashtray down and empty it when I go downstairs to feed the cats and get coffee. Thus I have a clean ashtray to start the day.
I use a computer calendar with alarms to remind myself of daily tasks - take morning meds, afternoon meds, night time meds. On Thursday an alarm reminds me to put the trash out for Friday pickup. On Sunday I'm reminded to pay bills. This is one of the most valuable tools I have.
And in the evenings I have a different kind of method of dealing with depression - I roleplay. I've found that online chat roleplaying - mine is free-form - has a lot of benefits. It can take me out of myself if I need that. It's the social contact I usually don't get during the day - spending time with friends. Also, roleplaying wakes up my creativity, which (for me) is often one of the things that dies during depression.
Through online chat roleplaying I can work out issues as well. Am I feeling angry at myself? Then my character can express some self-anger within the fantasy framework. It's a far more expressive and therapeutic version of taking that anger out on a pillow.
Do you have useful and/or unique methods of coping with your depression? Leave a comment to share them with others - maybe you'll really help someone.
Published On: June 26, 2011
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