It’s kind of the only advice you get out where I live. “Pull yourself up by your bootstraps.” “Suck it up, buttercup.” Nice, punchy, hand-waving… crap.
For those of you who don’t know, I live in a rural area, a farm town in Northern Alberta, Canada. The population is probably around 1,000. Depression is a big issue out here, but there isn’t much help for it. Not that people don’t want help, but there’s no help out here. For my own experience, I called for help in July. I’m still waiting.
So what can we do? Claw yourself out of a hole, really. There’s not much to do. Either you survive or you don’t. It becomes that simple. Most people use alcohol or something simple to self-medicate. Some of us can’t do that.
We survive by reaching out and making connections with one another, with making sure we know we have a lifeline. Recently, I was at a rather scary point in my life where I didn’t feel like I had a lifeline, a safety net. It felt like I was in freefall down into the abyss of depression and delusion.
The only person (other than my husband) who I felt I could open up to also was in freefall. He refused to try and get himself back up. So this is something sort of for him, sort of for the rest of you, and definitely for myself.
Tip 1: Open the Windows
Really. Let light in. Sit in the sun if you don’t feel like going outside. Just… see the world outside even if you’re not going to go engage with it. Know that there are other people struggling, too. The world doesn’t end at your doorstep. (I know that’s kind of a weird statement, but people get out of touch with reality if they tarry in depression too long. There were several times in my teens and early 20s (when I primarily spent my life in my bedroom) that I was convinced my walls were cardboard and outside was a soundstage and then nothingness.)
Tip 2: Get Some Sleep!!! (But not too much…)
Getting a regular sleep schedule, even if you don’t have a job or aren’t going to school, is a must. Keep in mind that your body and mind need sleep to recuperate and make sense of what’s going on. I don’t fully understand the science behind it, but it’s a necessary thing. When you have a regular sleep schedule you can count on a good amount of rest every night (or day for you night owls) and you’ll have the energy and ability to take care of your problems.
Tip 3: Eat Well and Regularly
A big thing with depression is your appetite might change. Mine does. In certain points of depression I have no appetite whatsoever (and rapidly lose weight) while in others I overeat (and rapidly gain). It’s important to keep a schedule and regular meals, though. I don’t really know enough about nutrition to tell you what you should or shouldn’t eat, but it should contain a variety of foods in a variety of colors. But everything in moderation, hm?
Tip 4: Get Active
This one’s a tough one in depression because a lot of us don’t feel like doing anything, but getting moving does actually help. Even if your activity is to load the dishwasher or fold the clothes. Even that little bit can help propel you forward. You need it. And, trust me, I know the difficulty of those forward steps. It’s easier to make excuses, but excuses keep you where you are.
Tip 5: Stay Connected
I don’t have this as much but I know a lot of people who just shut down when it gets bad enough. However, if you don’t stay connected you won’t have as many resources to help yourself. And the people around you do care. So keep those ties. And you may lose some friends through your depression, but they weren’t worth it if they walk away while you’re having a hard time.
Note: If people walk away because you’re a complete jerk to them, that’s not on them, that’s on you.
Tip 6: Take Responsibility
This isn’t as much for getting out of depression as it is for you to retain integrity. When you’re depressed it’s easier to put responsibility on everyone else and blame the world for your problems. So stop it. Don’t do that. You just push people away with that. And then you blame them for walking away. Stop it. That’s not good. Recognize what you’re doing and what you can do to make your own life better.
Tip 7: Something To Look Forward To
Something that really helps me is having something in each week to look forward to. It can be ordering out from a favorite restaurant, playing a game you like, watching a movie, reading a book, seeing a friend, or really anything else. But these things are useful as it lets you have a reward or a bright spot in an otherwise dull week. “Yeah, today’s bad, but on Friday I’ll order pizza and play some games with friends.” A weekly meet up with others (preferably physically, but via internet if you have no way of doing it physically) is also really good.
Tip 8: Decide You Want Better
I cannot stress this enough, you are in control of you. You control what you think (if you decide to) and you can have some control over your emotions. A lot of times we can’t get better because we’re getting something out of staying depressed. It’s not always something tangible, but it could be attention or pandering or any number of things. And this is a step no one else can take for you. You can have a million friends and do everything else on this list, but if you don’t decide to step out of your depression you never will.
I hope this list is some help. I’ll likely look at it from time to time. Please have a wonderful day.