How to Not Do Nothing

I must admit, I have been slacking off when it comes to posting on my blog, which I really don’t have any valid excuses to use. Besides the one I’m going to spend time talking about today.

I have been suffering from Major Depressive Disorder (MDD) for the majority of my life. I hate feeling like I pull the “depression card” when I behave against my own values, but there really is no better way to try and define what goes through my mind that leads to the decision to do, as the title implies, nothing.

Depression is different for everyone, so when I try to describe my own disease, please be aware that this isn’t how you or any others may experience depression. Just needed to include that disclaimer.

At all times, I have always have a tinge of depression coloring my life, but this fairly easy to overcome and handle. As I’ve learned more about my depression, I can rely on different coping mechanisms to help alleviate my daily symptoms (if you want me to go into detail on those, let me know).

Other days, however, the feelings of numbness and melancholy are unbearable. It’s hard to do everyday functions, like changing my clothes and brushing my teeth. If I see any notifications on my phone, I completely ignore them and isolate myself. If I leave my house, that’s a very large victory. I usually end up blankly watching TV or on the internet but finding no comfort or enjoyment. And I am very unproductive and unmotivated. Even if I have specific things I need to get done, with some anxious feelings of not getting anything done, it’s nearly impossible to actually end up doing anything.

It can be very hard for me to really recognize when I’m in these low moments. I’ve gotten so used to living at a mid-level mood with various lower deeps that I won’t notice that I’ve put a lot of tasks off or completely isolated myself until I am in a better mood, leaving me to pick up the pieces.

Going through these waves of depression really bothers me. I’m someone with a very strong work ethic. When I say I get things done weeks in advance, I’m not kidding. I like to go above and beyond expectations to put out my best work possible. I love my family and friends with my whole being. I don’t like appearing weak to others; I like to be the strong one others can lean on for support. So these periods of feeling like a shell of a person and how it ends up affecting my work and relationships kills me.

The summer is my least favorite season because these days happen much more frequently than during the school year. Without having a structure routine that keeps me busy throughout the day and exposes me to different people and friends, I constantly get in funks. This is the first summer I have an actual office job, which has helped some, but I get bored so easily that it’s too easy for me to dwell in my own moods, and then when I get an assignment, I become much more reluctant to do get on it. It’s also much more difficult to see friends when we’re all on different schedules, and it’s much easier for me to decline invitations when I’ve spent the whole day at a desk and I’m as not visibly accountable, which leads to later regret knowing I’ve probably missed out some great memories.

So, the main point of this post: what do I do to try combating these days?

First, learn to recognize these days.This is something I’m still learning to do because it can be hard to think rationally when thinking in general during these times is difficult, as if trying to see through a film of grey gauze. But there’s no way you can actually combat something you know nothing about. The phrase “Keep your friends close and your enemies closer” randomly came to mind. Take the time to learn about your individual behaviors and symptoms and emotions to best target them.

I thrive on structure in my day, something to do and look forward to, so even if it’s just one task I assign myself, no matter how minuscule, I dedicate my day to doing it. If it’s simply getting out of bed and taking the shower, that’s a victory. Or if you’re in the mood to do a bigger project, whether it’s a fun side activity or something you actually need to get done, do that. For me, that could be anything from writing a blog post, getting a school assignment done, reading a chapter in a novel, or just coloring a picture. Self care is so important. Find whatever makes the inner ache more bearable and do it.

It’s surprising how beneficial sunlight and fresh air can be. Even if it’s just a quick walk around the block or running a few errands, if you can, get yourself outside. A little Vitamin D never hurt anybody.

strawberries
It’s way too easy when in a low mood to forget basic functions we need to live and thrive. Don’t let a lower mental health moment hinder an overall balance of wellness. Make sure to eat well, exercise, and get proper sleep.

Reach out to someone, anyone, by any means you can. For me, that is usually sending a quick text or Snapchat to a family or friend. Just hearing from one person can help prevent complete isolation. Another option is regularly seeing a therapist. I’ve been seeing mine for the past several months, and even when I have to really force myself to go to my appointment, it ends up being really helpful.

Look into medication. I’ve been taking a small dosage of Zoloft for several months now, and it helps subside the everyday emptiness. This doesn’t mean I don’t still frequently have bad days, but the antidepressants make it easier to manage. Be vocal with your doctor. I’m considering asking for a higher dosage of my prescription, and that is completely fine and normal, but don’t rely completely on it. You still need to make your own effort to help yourself.

smile
Just forcing yourself to smile, even if that’s the last thing you feel like doing, can be a wake-up call to regain awareness of yourself and do the best you can.

Ultimately, let yourself have those low days. It’s not realistic to avoid them completely, but realize that those low feelings will pass. Experiment with different strategies so you can build a mental health toolbox when symptoms strike. These were just a few tips I like, but go ahead and find your own. Here and here are some more tips and resources.

Keep the faith, and take care. -Allie

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