I have struggled for years with depression. Cycles of feeling sad and unmotivated that lasted for months affected my life in a lot of negative ways, leaving me bitter, feeling insufficient and destroying my confidence in my own ability to succeed. The times when I did have energy I was left scrambling, trying to make up for responsibilities and relationships I had neglected during the “down” time. I was overwhelmed and felt like I could never catch up. This lead me to feeling hopeless and my downward spiral continued from my teenage years into my early twenty’s.
In 2008 I met a man who I thought was wonderful. We dated for a while, got engaged the following May, and were married in fall of 2009. My lack of self-confidence didn’t allow me to see the patterns of his drug use and emotional abuse that eventually escalated to a level of physical violence that I couldn’t live with in 2013. Three years of marriage to someone who enhanced my insecurities, isolated me from the people I loved and who had used me and broken my trust in countless ways – those three years left me broken and lost. It wasn’t until I had to learn to live completely independently that I had to learn what was real and what wasn’t. What parts of who I was were because of the depression? Which of my negative attributes were exaggerated because of my abusive spouse’s continual degradation that he used to keep me with him and isolated from the people who tried to help me?
Months of learning, searching, praying and rediscovering who I was took place I finally started to settle into a comfortable place with who I was by the fall of that year. I got over my bias against depression medications and got on an anti-depressant that helped me immensely, settled into a new system of religious beliefs, got a new job and moved away to a small town where I lived with a family who love myself and my daughter and found myself feeling truly content and for the first time in a long time I felt peaceful.
Dealing with bad cycles
I still have bad cycles. I have had to learn to watch for some of my signs of depression creeping back into my routine. Things like overeating and loading myself full of sugar and carbs, lack of energy and motivation to maintain my grooming are my usual markers of the beginning of a bad cycle. I engage in time wasters like new games on Facebook or my smartphone, bury myself into a new book or television series. Once these behaviors start to become a normal in my daily or weekly routines, I need to be very careful to watch myself. I cannot always keep myself from slipping into a bad cycle, but I can minimize the damage it does by being aware of my destructive patterns that only lead to bad things.
Journaling is a very helpful tool when I am overwhelmed. It helps me relieve some of the emotional pressure in my head so I can function without it. I also drink Get Happy Tea from Republic of Tea and try to make sure I am running so my mood and appetite stay stable and consistent. I usually evaluate if I am meeting my other basic needs like social time, Bible study and time where I am out in the sunshine. Here are some of the other things I do to help keep my mood light when I am struggling
- Post encouraging quotes and Bible verses for myself on the bathroom or bedroom mirror
- Make my laptop background something cheerful and inspiring
- Do something to improve my surroundings
- Write down 5 things I’m thankful for
- Make sure the house is clean, or at least the bedroom
- When I am hormonal, take Evening Primrose Oil to help me not feel crampy and not quite so grouchy
- Snuggle! My daughter, fiancee, and my dog all inevitably get loved on more when I am feeling down. It improves my mood and theirs, so it’s a win-win.
- Put on peppy music. I have a playlist called “Jammin” on my phone that I plug in when I am feeling down or just need a little energy boost during the day.
- Avoid alcohol and caffeine
- Find a new cheerful fiction book to read.
- Take a few minutes to stretch and do deep breathing.
Getting through a bad cycle
Sometimes, fixing a thing or two in my routine is enough to help pull me out of a slump, but sometimes I just have to grit my teeth and get through. Those times are the times where I just fake it till I make it. It is hard to accept that I can’t just tweak a couple of things and fix it every time, but it does happen. Having to put on a smile on and just put one foot in front of the other is sometimes all I can handle, and that’s okay. I read a great article on Living Well Spending Less about getting through a rough patch that has really kept me going through a couple of hard times.
If you have struggled, or are struggling with depression, you are not alone. If you would like prayer or to share encouragement with someone else, leave a comment below.