If anxiety is a tiger, loud and strikes without hesitation… Then depression is a snake, slow to attack. It creeps up and twists around the body with control, and there it remains like a lead weight… Filling every crevasse of the mind and darkening the vision.
On the spectrum as a whole, I’m fortunate to be on the milder end. Yet it catches me off guard every time, slowly increasing the pressure, until I can’t bear the weight. I don’t want to merely define it as sadness, because that’s far too simple. When I’m depressed, I lose myself for a while. It’s as though I’m stumbling around in the dark without a purpose. I can’t see the point in anything and I have no energy. I don’t want to leave the f**king couch, let alone the house. And although deep down, I know there are positive steps that I should be taking, I just can’t face them. I want to curl up with the snake and let it drain the life from me.
The worst of it normally lasts forty-eight hours, after which the mist clears just enough for me to spring into action. (Albeit slowly).
A friend of mine recently reminded me of the importance of routine. When depression strikes, routine becomes my everything. An example of my morning routine:
7:30 – GET UP.
7: 40 – Drink hot water with lemon
7:45 – Porridge with blueberries and a banana
9:00 – 20 minutes on the treadmill
9:20 – Shower and get ready for the day. Wear decent clothes not PJs.
10:00 – Do a pre-planned activity
Sounds easy when you read it like that huh? IT ISN’T. When the alarm goes off at 7:20 (I like/need a 10 minute snooze) and then again at 7:30, don’t expect your brain to help you. In fact, expect it to do the complete opposite. It will provide a detailed list of excuses as to why you should stay in bed, such as; “You can start this tomorrow, you’re not ready.” “You didn’t sleep very well.” “Just have an extra half hour in bed.”
So believe me, I KNOW how difficult it is and I’m not ashamed to admit that I’ve faltered in the past.
Tip 1: Speed (not the drug). In my experience, the most effective way to deal with this rebellion from the brain is a lightning attack. I spring the f**k out of bed and into the bathroom before my brain has chance to react. I splash cold water on my face repeatedly (so comforting) and then I head on into the kitchen and stick the kettle on.
Tip 2: Don’t look for a meaning or ask any questions. Depression is a bastard for circulating thoughts such as “but what’s the point? Will this even help?” “What are you doing? IGNORE THEM. Unless your leg is hanging off, or there’s an axe murderer in the kitchen, then keep moving. Don’t respond to the questions, ignore them as though they’re taunts from a bully.
Tip 3: Distraction. Where possible, keep the brain occupied on other things. Nothing too complicated, but distracted. I’m addicted to the app HOOKED at the moment, (quite a fitting name). It’s a storytelling app, and all of the stories are told via a text message conversation. You have to tap the screen for the next message, so it feels as though you’re part of the story. I’ll be honest and say that 50% of the stories on there are utter shite. But some of the horror ones are really gripping and great for distraction.
Tip 4: Be kind. Depression also likes to remind you of how worthless you are and that nothing you do is significant. Well that’s bullshit. If you managed to get out of bed and get yourself dressed, then you deserve a pat on the back and a slice of cake. Take comfort where you can.
I really wish I had a tip 5 to round things out… *tumble weed*
When I’m feeling depressed I find manual labour to be extremely helpful. For example, today I picked up all of the stray twigs/branches/freaking chunks of wood, that blew into our garden during a storm last week. When I first started the task, my brain was screaming “what’s the point? Why are you bothering with this?” Yet I carried on, twig by twig. The garden is important to my dad, so that was my motivation. It took over an hour to do and I worked up quite a sweat. By the end I realised that the depression had eased a little and I felt that sense of achievement that only comes with manual work. It was also therapeutic to be outside for a while.
Pleasing aesthetics have also been known to lift my mood, (and I’m not just talking about Kit Harrington). For example, I bought a bunch a peonies as a treat. Peonies are my favourite flowers, I love them. So I literally carried the vase around with me all day. (Not when I was in the loo, but you get it). I call them my ‘travel peonies.’ Every room I entered, so did they.
However, as I mentioned earlier, my depression is on the lighter end of the spectrum. If you find that you can’t cope with day-to-day life, then I would recommend that you book an appointment with a doctor. Also, be sure to ring The Samaritans if you need somebody to talk to. Open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.
The snake might be cunning, but I’m f**king stubborn. SO LET’S AVE IT!!