At the end of 2022, I was more depressed than I had been in fifteen years. I forgot how helpless it feels to be depressed. And, I began to realize that my first response to depression is to look inward and treat myself with self-indulgence which, as I’ve discovered, is the exact wrong thing to do.
I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder fifteen years ago and since then I have managed. I slip constantly but never as deep as this past December. Part of my trigger is that I’ve been losing my vision. I have a genetic disorder which may or may not deteriorate all of the cells at the back of my eye. It has currently left me with “low vision” but maybe one day I’ll be completely blind.
As the months got darker, it became almost impossible for me to walk outside without a cane or an aid.
Day after day, I’d walk outside around 5 PM to absolute confusion. I can’t see the things around me that usually mark where I am and so in these moments of suspended comprehension, I think, “where the fuck am I?” And I’m on my front step. Or, in my driveway.
Dread caught up with me. I began to obsess over my vision loss. I don’t want to live if I can’t see. From where I stand right now, I just don’t know if I can cope with that.
And so, a helpless depression set in and it was an unbelievable physical and mental trap.
I had forgotten the strength of my misery.
And, maybe I’ve never credited myself with how much work it takes for me to stay afloat. I take medication but I also wake up early to work out and drink extra water, eat properly, take my dog for a long walk, shower and dress all before my morning meeting at 9 AM. Then, after work, I ride the Peloton, do yoga, make dinner. I don’t want to do any of these things. I nag myself into doing them because I know that maybe I’ll completely lose it if I don’t follow a routine.
Staying here, for so many of us, is such a self-involved process.
Life’s a fucking weird place.
Sometimes depression feels like a fine companion.
I’ve come out of it a bit. Here’s a few things that have helped me. And, I don’t want to obsessively, routinely engage with them. I just want to enjoy these things. Because, I am one of these millenials who isn’t sure about having kids. And, if it isn’t for procreation, it’s really fucking tough to convince yourself that your life has meaning.
So, maybe my life and your life doesn’t have meaning. Maybe, our job is to hook into life’s meaning, just generally.
Things I do when I’m depressed: binge sugar, reality TV, and alcohol.
None of those are helpful. So, I decided to say “fuck you.”
10 thinks I do to say No, Goodbye, and Fuck You to depression:
- Read—-So, Kindle has a bunch of free books. Read the thrillers. Thrill is a much better companion than depression.
- Collect your horoscope—I am shit at making decisions when I am depressed. This is actually a hilarious way to give into life’s random bullshit.
- Invent challenges—“30 Days of Cold Showers” “30 Days of 30 Minute Walks” or whatever, and then I will make myself badges out of post its. If I do it for three days, I write THREE DAYS on a post it, stick it to my wall, ONE WEEK, TEN DAYS—etc. Honor yourself with an homage of post-its because it’s awesome.
- Audiobooks—-Yes, a subset of reading. Turn these up to 1.5 or 1,75 the speed because otherwise they’re a little boring. You can take them out for free from the Libby app, if you get a library card from your local library. And then, go for walks while you listen. If you live in the freezing cold, then stretch while you listen or cook or make jam or something…
- Chill with a fuzzy animal—we can’t all afford a pet, but if you can, do it.
- Call a family member, if you have one—-friends are fine but there is something so special about being close to family, if you have family available to you. If not, find that friend.
- Write fiction—-make up some fucking stories. Wattpad is a fun place to do that or in a journal or maybe you know a child you can tell stories to (I mean family. I don’t mean go to a park and pick a kid and tell a story)
- Volunteer—ok, this is on my list of goals for the year but my Mom swears it saved her from her bipolar disorder and I think it’s a really beautiful way to add meaning to life and meet people
- Make a wall of things you love—magazine cutouts, maybe your own writing, post it badges (See #3), calendars, goals, photos, favorite quotes. I straight up have a sign that says NEVER NEVER NEVER GIVE UP, which is a quote attributed to Winston Churchill which….ok
- Laugh—-this should probably be #1 but it’s really really hard to laugh when you’re depressed
- DO NOT: think too much, question yourself, ask for too much advice, seek too much. You’re in a vulnerable place. Try to stop thinking about your vulnerability. Try to stop self-indulging. Try to begin to indulge in the things around you.