I suffer from depression. Out of nowhere, feels like your heart is ripping out of your chest, crying in the shower day after day depression. And I am not ashamed of it.
Depression is a monster, sleeping under your bed. Sometimes you don’t know when it is going to strike, but you always know it is there. Even at the best moments of my life, I can turn around and feel my worst.
When I was younger, I thought I would never beat depression. It really started to hit me in middle school and by the time high school had come around, I couldn’t take it anymore. Trying to commit suicide helped others around me realize how much I was struggling because it was a silent battle that was not diagnosed. I got help, started seeing a therapist consistently and was on anti-depressants for a while. Once I moved out of my house, I had a lot more freedom with my schedule to try and take care of myself, but living on your own also comes with a lot of unexpected stress. Over time, I identified what can trigger my depression and how to overcome it. It may not work for everyone, but by making these 5 things a priority in my life I have a better emotional balance.
Before reading about the 5 things I do to help cope with my depression, please stop and think about yourself. Therapy is a great option that I think people really take for granted. The things below would have done nothing for me if I didn’t go to therapy first to get on the right track. If you think you are past the point of therapy, call the suicide hotline at 1-800-273-8255 for a friendly voice.
1. Getting 8 hours of sleep…
Getting enough sleep at night has made the biggest impact on my day to day life. Some think that they can get away with a few hours of sleep and then drown themselves with caffeine to make up for it, but it doesn’t give your body the downtime that it needs. In college, I struggled with this more so than I do now because you have tests and homework to deal with. But even towards the end of college years, I made some hefty choices. Instead of staying up late to do homework, I would get as much done as I could before 10 and then shut my books. Yes, it was hard to make that decision because in school you think your quality of life depends on your grades, but I am here to tell you it does not! Instead, I learned to be better organized, got my things done in small increments of time throughout the day, and was in bed early. Today, I go to be around 10:30-11pm at the latest and wake up at 8am. Yep, that’s nine hours….
But be careful, sometimes too much sleep can have the same effect as too little!
2. Telling friends/strangers about my day…
Simply telling someone about my day, the good and the bad, has made an exceptional difference because it allowed me to open up. I open up about things that I would otherwise categorize as unimportant, but even then it made me feel like someone cares. Usually, someone says, “How are you?” and the other replies with a simple “I am good, how are you?”. This short conversation doesn’t tell the person anything and you really do not gain much from it. So instead, I became the annoying person who would tell them exactly how my day was going. Some enjoy it, some don’t care. But it didn’t matter because I felt like I am making a connection with someone.
At the end of the day, I don’t look back on my day and think that no one cares about me. Instead, I have a conversation with someone and I think, “Oh this person cares, they asked me how I was doing and we had a nice conversation.” It may feel a little fake at first, but over time it really blossoms.
3. Take my dog for a walk…
Staying active is important. When I am depressed, I will not leave the house and sit with my own thoughts (which aren’t that great when you are sad, fyi!). So I need a reason to get out of bed. That reason is my dog Tycho.
Tycho has to go out for a walk, he is a dog. So no matter how sad I am, I have to get up and let him out because I do not have a yard. Simply breathing in the good air makes the small world inside my head feel a lot bigger. I suddenly stop overthinking and move on with my life.
Drawing is a passion of mine and can make hours feel like 5 minutes. It has no boundaries and can completely occupy my mind when I need something to do at home. Art can really calm me down and at the end of the day, I have a piece that I am really proud of. Sometimes my motivation to draw can be sporadic, but, boy, when it hits, don’t expect to hear from me for a while!
5. Putting down the sugar and picking up the cooking utensils…
Now I am not talking about dieting, I hate diets, but ever since I realized I had a little bit of an addiction to Red Bull, I started to watch what I ate. This can play a large factor into how I sleep as well, which as you saw above, is my number one priority in life. So instead of chowing down the same things (usually these consisted of something sugary or fried), I changed up my eating habits.
I can be the most impatient person in the world when I am hungry. So instead of simply cooking, I would get the most unhealthy things at the store that were quick and easy. After I moved to San Francisco, I tossed out my microwave and started cooking. I have found cooking to be very relaxing and it allows me to really watch what is going in my body. I still am very impatient, but now that I have a few recipes up my sleeve, I can whip out things a lot faster.