Because I have bipolar disorder, I also have bouts of depression. I have help for my depression in the form of medication, therapy and a variety of coping skills, which all make it easier to deal when depression hits. However, as depression winds itself up, almost ready to strike, I’ve learned to do these 10 things to lessen the blow.
1. Put on makeup.
When I’m depressed, I have lower confidence and don’t like myself as much. I put on makeup because it boosts my confidence and makes me feel better about myself.
2. Treat myself.
Sometimes I paint my nails, make s’mores in the microwave or buy something for myself I want but don’t really need. These small and seemingly unimportant things are actually really important at the start of a depressive episode because doing something special for myself reminds me I am special, especially when I’m not really feeling that way.
3. Pin positive messages.
Pinterest is my favorite place to go when I start to feel down. I usually search for “uplifting quotes” or “encouraging Bible verses” and find a plethora of messages and phrases that remind me to be kind to myself.
4. Enjoy the weather.
Whether it’s sunny, cloudy, raining or storming, I try to find the benefits of each type of weather. At the start of another “down,” I like to step outside for a few minutes or take a walk solely to focus on the weather around me. I try to remain mindful by watching the breeze, listening to the birds in the trees, by standing barefoot in the grass and concentrating on how it feels between my toes.
5. Clean my room.
During a depressive episode, I turn into a slob and feel even more like a slob when my space is a mess. I clean my room when I feel depression coming on so I don’t feel so sluggish, and so I don’t feel like my space is small and suffocating. I believe a clean room leaves room for a clear mind, which is what I need before depression hits.
6. Play with my cats.
My cats are silly and get excited over things as simple as a string or jingly ball. Playing with them lightens my heart and makes me laugh when my heart begins to feel heavy and when I know I won’t feel like laughing. The little things they go crazy over give me a slight feeling of joy when I’m depressed. Even that slight feeling is enough to help me combat the beginning of a depressive episode.
7. Eat breakfast.
Depression sucks the energy from my body and my mind. When I feel depression creeping in, I eat a better breakfast so I have a good amount of energy to start the day with. Eating a good breakfast makes me feel like I’m fueling up for the day, and I am prepared for anything my depression could throw at me.
8. Call my grandma.
My grandma’s stories of years past always make me laugh. I call her when I’m starting to feel depressed so she can lift my spirits, even if she doesn’t mean to. Calling a friend or loved one reminds me I’m not alone, and encourages me not to isolate myself as depression hits. I may not tell my grandma what I’m thinking or feeling, but whatever she says to me distracts me from my depressed thoughts and uplifts my mood.
9. Bake something.
Baking is a tasty, time consuming distraction and is something I enjoy, which is why I choose to do it when I start to feel depressed. Doing things I enjoy doesn’t really happen when I’m in the midst of a depressive episode, which is why I often bake before my depression gets too bad. It’s a reminder that even though I’m depressed, I do still enjoy things.
10. Watch “The Best of Will Ferrell on SNL.”
I’ll do this when my only goal is to cheer myself up through uncontrollable laughter. Watching comedy takes my mind off of my impending depression and rids my mind of negative thoughts. Laughter is said to be the best medicine, and when I’m watching Will Ferrell, that sentiment is definitely true.
What works for me may not work for everyone, but I encourage anyone who suffers from bipolar depression to find what works to keep their depression at bay. Soften the blow of a depressive episode by combating it with a joyful distraction, and by doing what is necessary to eliminate negativity from your mood. Find your list of 10 things, and do them before your depression turns into a full blown depressive episode.