As I have so frequently mentioned, I have depression! I’ve been actively treating it for about two years now, but it’s very clear to me that it’s going to take fairly involved management for the rest of my life. I would love to just crush it with my mind a la Jack Donaghy, but my therapist tells me I have to be realistic. So I’ve made myself a list of things that help me manage my depression as a long-term illness. This includes things that make me feel better in the moment, but it’s mostly about taking care of myself, and building a foundation during my better days so that I have support during my worst.
1. Maintain ties with friends. Even sending a quick letter helps. I keep note cards, envelopes and stamps around the house so I can send off a quick note every once in a while.
2. Get outside, even if for a little while. There’s some science that backs this up as a Good Idea, in case you think I’m full of shit. I set myself reachable goals…if I feel super horrible, I’m allowed to go outside for two minutes and it counts.
3. Make lists of what I’m good at. Depression makes me think I suck at everything. Making lists of stuff I’m good at, like roasting chicken, or finding bunny gifs on the internet, helps me remember I have things to be proud of.
4. TAP. This brain-reprogramming technique has been revolutionary for me. Sometimes if I’m feeling lazy or I only have a minute, I’ll just say what’s bothering me out loud, and then the affirmation sentence.
5. Break large tasks down into small ones. CLEAN THE WHOLE HOUSE? ARE YOU CRAZY? Do a load of laundry, then dust the picture frames? Now you’re talkin’.
6. Keep my space clean. Having a clean living space makes me feel productive, and it makes me feel at home. It’s also something I can be proud of, and something I can break down into small tasks to get done. See how intersectional this shit is?
7. Take a shower every day. God I hate showering when I’m depressed. Alone with my thoughts and naked and WET? Ugh. But taking a shower is a) good for personal hygiene and b) kind of a mini reset button. Some days it can help me get going.
8. Keep my doctor’s appointments and take my medicine according to direction. YOU WOULD BE SURPRISED AT HOW HARD THIS IS. But good grief withdrawal from anti-depressants is scary. I learned this the hard way about 80 times before I locked my shit down.
9. Exercise. Yo. It helps. I count literally anything physical as exercise–stretching my planter muscles is exercise. But it’s important for me to do something physical every day.
10. Remember that I am a person with a disease, not a disease driving a person around. Some days I remember this. Some days I don’t. But it is, in fact, the truth. People who are not me, like my girlfriend and friends are helpful in reminding me of this.
Ok, so that’s what I do. What do you do, internet? And don’t say St. John’s Wort, that shit tastes like a decaying Yankee Candle.