I was depressed a few years ago. I couldn’t eat. My stomach would grumble in agonising hunger pain and I would cook something good. 3 bites in and I would be done. My stomach would shrink and my body soon followed suite. I went from a size 14 to a size 8! My doctor friend, who was too far away to help at the time, sent me to another doctor friend and here are some of the tips he gave me to try manage my situation before resorting to medication.
I couldn’t eat because I was always ate on my own. All my attention was on the food in front of me and I was fully aware of the pressure I was under to eat. I didn’t like being that thin and I didn’t like living my life in constant hunger. So my friend suggested that I surround myself with people during meals. A distraction of good conversation and laughs during the meal; an eleviation of the pressure that wore me down.
Exercise is said to be good medicine for depression and even insomnia. I’ve always enjoyed being physically active. And those endorphins that are released after a good work out are so real. I drive home after gym feeling cheerful for no real reason!
Focus on the good
For all that there is to complain about, there is often just as much to be grateful for. Despite my situation at the time, I loved my job. I had good friends, a mother that is proud of me and a life I, for the most part, enjoyed. There was plenty to be grateful for every day, no matter how small. Everything was not lost.
Be gentle with yourself.
It’s ok to give up sometimes. It’s ok to abandon the daily demands of adult life, to veg out on the couch with a bowl of popcorn, an endless stream of episodes and nowhere to go. You’re allowed to skip gym, eat all the unhealthy stuff sometimes. You’re allowed to feel sorry for yourself just a little bit. It’s the ebb and flow of life, a wave that you have to go through to get past. Your feelings are real and they are important. Allow yourself those moments, but you must get back up the next day. Do not wollow.
I say this countless times and most days, It’s pretty easy to do. It took a fresh meaning this morning, though because I realised I had fallen into that rabbit hole and have been in it for the past few weeks. You will always fall short if you compare your life to others. Your car won’t be new enough, your house not well furnished enough and your marital status not favourable enough. Stop!
I don’t think it’s about overcoming or trying to “get over” depression. I think what is more important is to find healthy coping mechanisms for depression, even if you are also on medication. It’s about being honest with yourself and to yourself. It develops grit and strength; therein lies the overcoming and seeing better days ahead.
I know I’ve merely scraped the surface of this mental illness and I also know that depression menafests in different ways. If this helps even one person today then, it has fulfilled it’s purpose.
Take courage, dear heart. All is not lost.