During my time off work I started to carefully curate a survival toolkit for my depression.
- Get outside.
- Cuddle dog.
- Get heart rate up for 20 minutes.
- Meditate. Headspace is everything.
- Take things minute by minute.
- Snacks. Always have snacks on hand.
- Assemble a team! A support network. Someone you can call in the middle of the night when you think you can’t take anymore.
- Above all else, honor the golden rule of depression: ABSOLUTELY NO MUSTerabation. EVER. (Thanks Dr. A!)
MUSTerbation: to ruminate on what you should or must be doing.
Nothing is more debilitating than having a ‘to do’ list endlessly repeating in your head, all the while you know that you’re too tired and too sad to accomplish anything on that list. The list becomes a mountain as you grow smaller and smaller. Suddenly you’re beating yourself up for failing, but you’re frozen and overwhelmed when faced with a list that just doesn’t seem to end. Some days I didn’t have the energy to feed myself let alone clean the entire house, walk the dog, do the laundry, create a budget, re-organize the closet, and get groceries. Why did I feel like I needed to be the Wonder Woman of depression?
And so my most critical exercise each day was reminding my brain that I’m a humanBEING, not a humanDOING. When my brain started focusing on what I should be doing, and all of the things I had to get done I practiced shutting that thought process down.
I used my toolbox to help me structure my days. My ultimate goal was to develop coping skills, and to give my body and mind the nourishment and self-love it deserved. While it was incredibly important for me to have a clear road map on how I wanted to piece together each day, even more important was the permission I gave myself to completely throw that structure out the window to do whatever I needed to do for my tired body and brain. Sometimes that meant not leaving bed that day, and it meant doing it guilt-free. Who needs guilt on top of all the other miserable symptoms of depression? And so if I can give you one piece of advice when dealing with depression, do everything in your power to ward off that pesky musterbation.
Here I am ignoring my massive to do list, and my dog doesn’t seem too mad that we haven’t gone for that walk yet.