Dealing with depression isn’t easy. Cultural stigma tells you to get over it. Friends and family don’t understand it. Then add on the fact that everyone is different so there is no standard treatment and it feels like a battle you can’t win. I would love to tell you I have a magic cure but I don’t. Instead, I can share with you my 8 tips for dealing with depression after nearly 20 years of doing so.
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It sounds so simple but you need to be specific. Bad days are going to come when you can’t function like you need to. Right now you’re trying to power through but that can actually make it worse. Don’t try to power through and instead plan ahead for these days.
- Have freezer meals ready to throw in the oven or in the Crock-Pot.
- Stash a set of clean clothes for each of your kids in case you can’t do laundry.
- Batch your work so that you are ahead when bad days hit.
Have a Bag of Tricks
Keep a physical list of things that can improve your mood. Think of this list as your bag of tricks that you can pull from on bad days. Maybe getting lost in a good book helps you pull out of it. It may take some time but any time an activity helps make the bad days a little better, write it on your list. My top 3 activities are:
- Throwing on headphones and blasting music: I usually start with sad songs but put my IPod on shuffle so upbeat songs eventually come on. This keeps me from wallowing.
- Getting sunlight or visiting a tanning bed: In the summer this is easier because I can go outside and the sun physically warms me up. That helps warm my mood, too.
- Taking a nap or going to bed early: When I sleep it helps my levels go back to normal. While this one isn’t always an option, it does always help.
Be Open About It
I’m not saying have an all-out breakdown in front of people. None of my friends or extended family have seen me on the days that I am literally rocking in a corner bawling my eyes out. However, everyone in my life knows that I have depression and also that some days I am just going to be different. Trying to hide it isn’t worth it. Let people know when you’re having a bad day. If they can’t handle that, you don’t need them in your life.
This goes along with planning ahead. If you have a weekly meal plan in place you can easily shuffle meals if needed. Move frozen pizza night to Tuesday and switch stir fry to Friday. Also, don’t forget about lunches if you have little ones at home during the day. Don’t feel guilty about heating up leftovers or serving a cheese sandwich for lunch. Your kids will love it, anyway.
Create Kid Kits
Speaking of kids, being a mom doesn’t stop when depression hits hard. Creating kid kits will make life so much easier. Keep a bag stocked with new, quiet toys and activities. When a bad day happens, surprise your kids with something from the bag. They will love getting a new surprise and it will help keep them entertained when you don’t have the energy. To help you out, here are some ideas for what to put in the bag:
- Coloring Books
- ISpy Books
- Hand-Held Mazes
- Magnetic Draw Pad
- Lego Kits
- Memory Game
- Look and Feel Book
- Deck of Cards
Friends and family don’t know what you need. Be specific when telling them what you need, how they can help, and what is currently going on. If you need your husband to take the kids outside so that you can have some quiet, tell him. When friends keep calling and you can’t deal with it, tell them. Not everyone is going to understand and that’s okay. They simply have to respect it. My mom doesn’t love the fact that I can’t always bring myself to respond to her but she respects that sometimes it may be 24 hours before I can let her know that I’m okay. If I’m still not up for talking, a simple text will suffice. These are the specifics and boundaries that you need to set.
Keep Your Home Clean
Trust me; I know how hard this is. I have small kiddos, a tiny kitchen, and too much stuff. My house is always a mess. When you add a bad depression day to that mixture you get so far behind that it is a monster to tackle. If you can’t keep your whole house clean, aim for one room. For me, that room is my office because it is the only room in the house that no one else is allowed in. However, I actually recommend that you do it with your bedroom. If you can keep your bedroom clean then you will have one room to retreat to that doesn’t feel like it is adding to the chaos going on inside of you.
Don’t Be Ashamed to Take Meds
Honestly, I see so many people who write, post, and talk about avoiding medicine at any cost. Decide right now that your life is worth more than that. My body is sick and cannot produce the chemicals that I need to keep from spiraling into depression. No amount of positive thinking, therapy, or homeopathic remedy can “fix” that. It is the same as needing to take insulin to process sugar. So don’t be ashamed if you need medicine and don’t be afraid to speak up when it’s not working. There are a ton of different kinds in a variety of strengths so that you can find the perfect fit for your body and your depression.
Dealing with depression is hard. These tips can help make it easier. When the bad days come you can have tools to get through them. Even better, when you come out on the other side you won’t be as behind because of you planning ahead. Don’t let depression define you. It is simply a part of you and you are so much more than a single part.