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I wrote this article last week after a year of blogging about stuff like food, kids and salt scrubs. To say I was nervous as I hit the ‘publish’ button would be an understatement. I was terrified that by essentially “coming out of the closet” as a person who lives with chronic depression, I’d lose most of my readership. I mean this is, after all, a mommy blog.
But what actually happened shocked me. So many people (and many of them were also mommys!) could relate, that I had the most views on my blog I’ve ever had. I had people thank me, and many people shared the article which, at this time, is going semi-viral.
So while I plan to continue writing about food and kids and crafting and all the other things you’d expect to find on a mommy blog, you can expect some more posts from me like this too. Because I think we feel better when we talk about the hard things and not just about the fun things.
Last week’s post How to Show Love to Someone With Depression was helpful for a lot of people, but some people commented that they were very much alone and need ways to get through depression without help.
And many people who suffer from depression are alone, because there is such a stigma surrounding mental illness. It’s frequently viewed as a character flaw, a weakness, or a figment of the sufferer’s imagination.
I’ve certainly been there. And I can tell you, the internet was NOT helpful. I think maybe we need less articles written by psychologists, and more written by actual depressed people.
So here are five things you can do all on your own to help yourself through the dark times. I hope you find them helpful, and if you have more to add, please comment below.
1. Give something away to someone who could use it.
I know this sounds silly at first. Shouldn’t I be telling you to buy yourself something instead? Well no. Giving something away will help you in several ways. First, you will feel better because you helped someone. Second, say, for example, you have gained or lost weight and have clothes in your closet that don’t fit. Or an exercise bike you only use to hang your laundry on. Or a lamp you hate but keep because it was a gift. Now you have clutter and guilt to deal with. Neither of which are helping you feel better. Last, remember that the Universe HATES a vacuum. If you give something away, I promise you will always get something better back. Examples of places you can gift are The Buy Nothing Project, local women’s shelters or Goodwill.
2. Automate Whatever You Can.
If you are depressed and alone, things like grocery shopping can sometimes feel too difficult. But running out of toilet paper never put anyone in a better mood. Try experimenting with putting a few things you use frequently on Subscribe and Save. Look into grocery delivery programs or online ordering options for grocery stores near you. In my town, Vons will deliver your groceries for a small fee, but you can try out the service for free. Your order history is also saved so you don’t have to make a list every time you need groceries. Forgetfulness and losing track of time are common for depressed people. Try inputting your appointments into Google calendar so you don’t forget appointments (or forget to make appointments).
3. Go Outside Barefoot.
I’m not going to tell you to exercise. It’s great advice, and it would help you feel better, but from personal experience I can tell you that asking me to work out when I’m depressed is like telling a drowning person to breathe. However I could manage to spend a few minutes barefoot in my yard every day. Between the benefits of earthing and vitamin D from the sun, you will feel better. Many depressed people are very deficient in vitamin D, and living around so many electrical devices can really mess with your body’s own electricity, which is corrected by being barefoot in the dirt. If you should happen to feel like taking a walk or stretching once you are outside, so much the better.
4. Make Healthy Food a Priority
You may want to live off of frozen pizza and beer, but that’s only going to make you feel worse. Keep a small list of no-effort meals you like. No-effort meals are meals that don’t require chopping, grating, peeling or any complicated cooking. You just dump them and wait. A few examples of healthy, no-effort meals would be: a roast, a bag of baby carrots, a bag of new potatoes, a bag of green beans and a box of low sodium chicken stock (or homemade if you have it of course) all dumped into a slow cooker before you leave for work, a bag of mixed vegetables stir fried with fresh or frozen chicken tenders and coconut aminos, a pork shoulder roast slow cooked with chicken broth, Brussels sprouts and baby carrots, or a bagged salad and a broiled steak or pork chop.
5. Plan Rewards for Yourself After You Do Something Difficult
If you don’t feel like you can make it through a day at work, a day parenting or whatever other adult responsibility your day holds for you, plan a reward for yourself for after you’re done. This is different for everyone, but could be time with a book you’d like to read, painting your nails a new color, taking a detox bath with uplifting essential oils, watching a funny movie (this may not be a good time to watch a sad movie!) or treating yourself to a bar of dark chocolate. I don’t recommend rewarding yourself with junk food, alcohol or video games. They may make you feel better momentarily, but they will not help you out of your depressed state.
Last of all, remember you are worthy. Don’t listen to people who tell you that you just need to pray or stop being selfish or that you are crazy. You have an illness and you deserve to manage it with dignity.
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