…Do something about it!
Now, before you all log off with wails of “But she’s supposed to understand“, understand this: I DO UNDERSTAND.
I spent 2.5 years in hospital feeling as depressed as hell. I was in the doldrums and then some. I’d hit bedrock and was still digging down until I was up to my armpits in molten lava. And I got out of that pit.
Not because of some fancy medication. Not because of ECT (shock therapy). But because I chose to. Because I decided to do something about it. And I have to keep making that decision every single day.
Some days are much harder than others. I’ve had my difficulties over this past week. There have been days when I didn’t really want to do anything other than curl up on the sofa or in bed. And I’ve indulged my depression by doing that. Do you know where it got me? Nowhere.
Now, if you’re a regular to this blog, you’ll know I like lists. So I’ve made a list of everything that was affecting my mood and am working my way through it. Just like I did the other week (see here). This list includes the fact I’m missing Lovely Boyfriend, missing having The Porglets around, annoyed at The Ex for various reasons etc etc. Some of these things I don’t have any control over, but others I do. And I can certainly try to control my reactions to them. Thoughts like “Lovely Boyfriend will be phoning later tonight and will be home this week”. Thoughts like “I’ll see The Porglets on Wednesday; I can always phone them if I want to talk to them.” These are coping thoughts, and a heck of a lot more helpful than thoughts like “I miss them and can’t do anything about it.
Getting on and doing something to make yourself feel better: it’s called Behavioural Activation and it’s a practical form of CBT. The theory is simple: you’re not going to feel all that great sitting around doing nothing, waiting for something else to “cure” your mood. So do something yourself.
It can be simple: go for a walk each day. Set your alarm so you get out of bed at a reasonable time each day. Get dressed. Eat a healthy breakfast. Do the housework. Just DO SOMETHING. If you’re serious about it, keep a log of your activity every hour of every day for a week (I had to do it for a month). Jot down what you’re doing and how you feel. Try to do something each day and see how it makes you feel. You’ll soon see what things make you feel worse and what things make you feel better. Do less of the former, more of the latter. It’s not complicated, but it is effective.
Think of it as an experiment. If you don’t try something new, how are you ever going to change? How are you ever going to feel better? And isn’t it far more empowering to think that you’re in control of your disease, rather than being passive and waiting for someone else to fix it? As the famous sporting brand says: Just Do It!