A man holding a lantern in the dark. Text reads: What a good day looks like for someone with depression

What a 'Good Day' Looks Like for Someone With Depression

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In the thick of a depressive episode, it can be hard to remember what it feels like to have a “good day” — one not bogged down by the weight of depression. And when these good days become a faint memory, it’s easy to believe they will never come again.

To remind each other what a good day looks like — and to show that they are achievable, even if they don’t come tomorrow — we asked people in our mental health community who live with depression to share what a good day means to them.

Here’s what they told us:

1. “A good day is when I don’t have to force myself to do simple daily tasks, like shower, eat, get out of bed. I can just do them without thinking about it for hours before.” — Jenna M.

2. “A good day is one when I get up, ready, out of the house, willingly interact with people, and don’t feel like crawling under the nearest rock because of having to do those things.” — Corey F.

3. “I’d say a good day for me is probably just feeling ‘normal.’ Not overwhelmingly happy, not sad or anything, just kind of more happy than usual, but not as happy as others around me.” — Bunny M.

4. “A good day is when you can actually understand that the people in your life care about you and love you. My depression usually prevents me from understanding that, but good days let me feel and know I have people in my corner.” — Kalene P.

5. “A good day would have some peace and quiet… rather than everything blowing up.” — Ray L.

6. “A ‘good day’ means actually being able to get out of bed without feeling like the weight of the world is resting on you. Going through the daily motions and my routine without the feeling of exhaustion, dread and overall sadness. A good day is not necessarily feeling happy but positive about life. A good day means counting my blessings because I know I have many.” — Kristen S.

7. “When I finally feel like putting on my pants, heading outside, walking alone, just staring at the sun, the street, the cars, the people.” — Prajwala J.

8. “A good day is being able to go to my university classes. It’s when I can actually concentrate in class and not feel like I’m going to cry. A good day is when I feel OK enough to do the tiniest things.” — Taylor S.

9. “A good day is when I can wake up earlier for once, and it doesn’t take me so long to get out of bed. I manage to eat three meals in the day. I put effort into how I look instead of grabbing the first thing I see. The constant, overwhelming guilt is a little bit less overwhelming. I can interact with people, go buy groceries and do other tasks involving social interaction without it feeling like too much. Overall, a good day is one I try to remember when I have my bad days. It’s a reminder that I’ve done this before, and I can and will again. It reminds me to not be so hard on myself because in the end I am doing the best I can even if my best is making my bed.” — Brianna B.

10. “A good day is one that anyone else might consider normal.” — Patrick N.

11. “A good day for me is when I’m not as fatigued and have more energy to do daily tasks that others can do so effortlessly. I have much more focus, I interact with others more, talk more and feel overall amazing. I feel more accomplished than I do most other days.” — Bethany B.

12. “Getting out of bed and not going back for the day. Staying productive, shopping, cleaning, errands, making appointments. A whole eight-hour day of that would be amazing! It happens once in a blue moon. Usually I’m just fighting to get out of bed.” — Tammy B.

13. “A good day is when I feel excited for the future instead of scared, when I know and believe I am loved (I always know intellectually that I am loved but may struggle to believe it on bad days), have taken care of my hygiene and medical needs correctly, don’t struggle with negative thoughts and/or lots of crying, am able to present and mindful rather than distracted by anxiety and sadness, and get at least a good chunk of my to-do list for that day finished.” — Jane C.

14. “A good day is when I wake up with no noise in my head, no voice telling me it’s all for nothing. I’m able to roll over, look at my girlfriend and be happy.” — Thaddeus A.

15. “A good day is being able to get up and not feeling like there is a block in my way preventing me from getting things done. Like getting up from the bed, getting out of the house and getting groceries, putting away laundry, just general stuff like being productive. I’m starting to realize how depression is actually affecting such simple aspects in my life. I’m learning to work and roll with it though.” — Andrea K.

16. “A good day for me is when I wake up and actually feel rested, more content and don’t have to force myself to smile. I don’t feel like I have to fake being OK, which is all the time unless I’m having a good day. I do my hair and makeup and wear nicer clothes. Most of all… I get my daily chores done without putting them off for hours on end due to emotional and physical pain because on a good day, I feel like I can do anything.” — Ashley D.

17. “Actually being able to get out of bed, shower, put on some makeup and clothes that aren’t a t-shirt and sweatpants. Answering the phone if someone calls. Saying yes when friends ask to hang out. Getting something done that’s been overdue. Not having that feeling of constant collapsing through out the day.” — Mariah St.

18. “A good day is doing things like cooking, cleaning and basic self-care without it feeling like a huge mountain you’ve just climbed. But also being so proud of yourself for taking a freaking shower! It’s being capable of giving yourself a pat on the back for simple things people do every day but is usually too much for you.” — Heather D.

19. “When I get a break from the feeling of loneliness. When the demons in my head finally stop. When I can actually feel the presence of all that is good in my life. When I don’t feel like everything I say and do is wrong. When I accomplish daily tasks. When I get to smile for real and not have to pretend. Sometimes it’s a month long. Sometimes it’s an hour. But my depression puts into perspective that happiness is fleeting and joy is not always a feeling.” — Kristen G.

20. “A good day is when the easy things feel easy and the difficult things don’t feel like the end of the world. On a good day I feel like I can cope and though I may not be able to take care of everything, I tried to do what I could and I can sleep peacefully knowing I faced the world without falling apart.” — RaQuita D.

21. “It’s a good day when I can do everything everyone else does without crying, feeling like a failure, without panicking over a simple thing…. yesterday was a bad day — didn’t shower, ate junk and sat home all day crying with the curtains closed.” — Julie L.

22. “A good day is when my triggers are present but I have the ability to overcome them. I can get out of bed, go to work, come home and care for myself and my pets and not feel like those simple acts are sucking the life out of me as well.” — Vanessa L.

23. “A good day is when I don’t have any suicidal thoughts at all, or self-harm urges for that matter. It’s a day when I’m energetic, refreshed and actually can feel in my bones that it’s going to be a good day.” — Alicja M.

24. “A ‘good day’ begins without an internal struggle to get out of bed, shower and get ready for work. It begins with coffee made at home and a packed lunch while having time to drive casually to work. It is having interest in the day and my surroundings and the constant need to hide under my blankets loosens its grip on my thoughts. It’s reaching out to friends, speaking up in conversations, sitting with groups of co-workers. A good day feels light, on good days I can breathe. On good days, tears from dark thoughts don’t fall. On good days I feel like I’m living.” — Melia B.

If you or someone you know needs help, visit our suicide prevention resources page.

If you need support right now, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255, the Trevor Project at 1-866-488-7386 or text “START” to 741-741.

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An Honest Timeline of My Depression

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This piece was written by Kendra Syrdal, a Thought Catalog contributor.

6:34 a.m.

I’m awake and can’t tell if I’m hungover or just waking up. There’s a little ache behind my eyes that is basically just a part of me at this point. I lay face down into my pillow aimlessly grasping for my phone and trying to forget whatever dream involving whatever ex had been playing through my head.

6:45 a.m.

I’m on the treadmill. Not really walking, not really running. Just sort of jogging at a pace that would definitely render me dead in a horror movie. There’s nothing playing through my earbuds because the idea of music is honestly annoying.

7:45 a.m.

I’m sitting on the floor of my bathroom post-run, pissed at everything.

7:56 a.m.

I’m just standing in the shower, remembering that summer when Greg and I sang karaoke every weekend at a dive bar in Lakeside. My then-whatever-boyfriend’s grandma would buy us Barcardi and Diet Coke’s and sway along to whatever song we were belting out. She told me I sounded like Carrie Underwood. I miss her sometimes.

8:12 a.m.

I let my dog out. While she’s peeing and smelling and living and laughing and loving I remember that I love her and that she’s one of the reasons why even the days like today where all I want to do is lay on the bathroom floor are better than the days before I had her.

8:35 a.m.

I’m in bed, bundled under three blankets and still shaking even though it’s not that cold, trying to convince myself to get some work done.

8:40 a.m.

I answer a few Slacks. I sound more annoyed than I am. I’m probably more short than I should be. At this point I’m just indifferent.

8:51 a.m.

Maybe coffee would make it better…

9:15 a.m.

The barista I see every morning asked me if I was feeling OK. I lied and said “just tired.”

10:37 a.m.

The cold brew I got has left condensation all over my stove and I’ve had maybe three sips and gotten zero work done because all I can do is continually refresh Instagram hoping I see something that will spark inspiration to either write something or talk to someone. Neither has happened.

11:30 a.m.

Should I order lunch? Do I even want lunch?

12:02 p.m.

I aimlessly eat shredded cheese out of the bag in front of the fridge while standing. Then, I pull an avocado out of the fridge with the intention of eating it on a rice cake.

12:15 p.m.

I walk my dog around the block. I roll my eyes like I’m annoyed but really, I’m quietly thankful that she actually gets me out of the house and moving and make a note to remember that walking her for a mile or so feels pretty good.

1:42 p.m.

How have I been watching enough “Friends” that I’ve gotten through over half a season today? Has it seriously been playing all day? Do I even like “Friends” that much?

1:48 p.m.

I publish an article. I feel really shitty about the lack of effort I put into choosing a photo for this girl’s piece. She’s probably going to be really excited about seeing her words online for (maybe? probably?) one of the first times and I barely spent a good 30 seconds before choosing a photo of a girl with her back turned to the camera overlooking the ocean. I’m terrible. I’m terrible at my job. I’m worthless. I’m so replaceable it’s not even funny. I’m fooling everyone into thinking I’m some standout, internet boss bitch but in reality, I’m garbage. I’m coasting. I’m going to end up back in North Dakota probably like, refilling the popcorn bowls at The Ground Round and being a cautionary tale that the Jenna’s and the Sara’s tell their children.

2:15 p.m.

I start to edit another article, maybe this won’t be so bad.

3:01 p.m.

How did it take me almost an hour to do that? I really am terrible at this. Ground Round here I come.

3:33 p.m.

I think maybe I should just take a nap. I’ll just hit, “Yes for the love of God I’m still watching” and doze off to the sounds of Ross trying to date women who aren’t Rachel for a bit.

6:33 p.m.

Shit…

6:40 p.m.

I lay on my couch staring at the ceiling and realize how much I’ve fucked up my cuticles today while “watching” (aka: staring at and not comprehending) Netflix. My right pointer finger is shredded, there’s blood stains on the inner sides of both my thumbs. My left middle finger didn’t stand a chance. And even though retrospectively I know how bad this is, there I am, picking away at scabs on the sides of my arms. Habitually, instinctually, impulsively.

6:46 p.m.

I let my dog out again. She barks at a child. I don’t apologize.

7:00 p.m.

I say to myself, “No drinking tonight!”

7:14 p.m.

I find the avocado I never ate. I still don’t eat it.

7:31 p.m.

I’m being poured a glass of red wine and turning down every offer to go out tonight.

8:05 p.m.

I start writing this – whatever it is.

9:20 p.m.

I’m still not done with this but I’m two glasses deep and I’m really regretting my choice to not really eat today. But not enough to order a sandwich.

9:36 p.m.

A group of happy, laughing, probably Microsoft-employeed dudes come into the wine bar where I’m working. They quip something about “too many Brians!” and quote Aziz Ansari and put on fake British accents when choosing a wine and I wonder what it’s like to be so blissfully unaware.

10:02 p.m.

I’m back in bed. I should wash off my makeup. I use a Burt’s Bees wipe instead.

11:33 p.m.

I’m wide awake. I’m at a loss for why I feel as empty as I do. I have every reason to be exponentially happy. Every reason to like, shout from the roof tops that it does in fact get better! But… does it? Is that just something we try to convince ourselves? Maybe it doesn’t get better your bank account just gets bigger? Or maybe there are just better people around you but you still feel like shit? I don’t know.

12:04 a.m.

Still awake.

12:30 a.m.

Still awake.

12:44 a.m.

Still awake. Still contemplating.

1:15 a.m.

Still awake. Still here. And I still don’t know why I’m depressed.

This story is brought to you by Thought Catalog and Quote Catalog.

We want to hear your story. Become a Mighty contributor here.

Thinkstock photo via megaflopp

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When You Can't Get Out of Bed Because of Your Depression

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It’s 7:30 a.m. and you have to be at work in a half hour; this is the fourth alarm that has gone off, and you still aren’t even close to moving your body out of your bed. So, you push snooze for the fourth time and you roll back over.

It’s 7:45 a.m. and there’s that pesky alarm again. This time you just turn it off and go right back to sleep.

It’s 11:25 a.m. You just woke up for the day and you know you’re not getting out of bed for at least another hour or two … maybe.

It’s 2:45 p.m. and you still haven’t gotten up. You have a meeting with your academic advisor in another 45 minutes, so you push yourself out of the bed that has held you hostage so many times before, and put yourself together. It takes extra long but you finally get dressed.

It’s 3:15 p.m. and you still haven’t left the house, so you have a panic attack and you end up not leaving the house. You talk to your roommate, your mom, your other roommate, but nothing seems to comfort you. You feel like a failure who is going to fail out of school and be fired for never getting out of that goddamn bed.

It’s 9:45 p.m. and you are finally hungry, so you decide to go into the kitchen and eat something.

It’s 11:25 p.m. and you are trying not to think about what a failure you feel you are, but those thoughts tend to creep up on you until they have taken over and suffocate any good thought you have.

It’s 1:56 a.m. and you are still not asleep; those pesky thoughts are of course there.

It’s 3:39 a.m. and you finally drift off to sleep, hoping that tomorrow is not going to be like today.

With love,

Addie

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How to Find the Good in Each Day With Depression

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Editor’s note: If you experience suicidal thoughts, the following post could be potentially triggering. You can contact the Crisis Text Line by texting “START” to 741-741.

At the beginning of the new year, most people make resolutions they plan on keeping the entire year. I don’t think I’d be wrong in assuming that probably 9 out of 10 of those stop after January, myself included. But this year, a friend reintroduced me to an idea — something we can both do and it would be something we can hold ourselves accountable for each day: A journal of daily positivity. Seems simple, right? Each day, you write down one positive thing that happened. Well, it’s week one and I’ve already had a day where I’ve struggled to come up with one positive thing.

But before I get into my “positivity week,” let’s go over a few things about myself to understand why.

Today is February 1, 2017. As of today, I’ve been living with anxiety and depression for about five years, self-harm free for two and a half, gone to therapy for two years and on antidepressants for a year and a half. Trying to find positivity isn’t always easy for me. I’ve lived through days when I wasn’t sure if I’d see tomorrow. Now if you know me, you’re shocked by this. I seemed to be a smiley girl who had it all together. There’s no way I could be filled with that much self-hatred, right? Ha. That’s where the stereotype of mental illness comes into play. People who have mental illnesses are depicted as isolated and “weird” and “crazy.” I was on sports teams, in a sorority and active in my classes. But that’s another story.

In writing some of my notes for my journal, I have one day that stands out to me. I remember sitting in my bed, trying to come up with one single thing I did that was good that day. I couldn’t for the life of me think of one thing. Then I got a text from the same friend who made me smile and I knew exactly what to write. I wrote down, “I am loved.” No matter how low I feel, no matter how bad I get, I have people who love me no matter what. I take for granted how fortunate I am to have that. Although I haven’t always felt that, I know it’s true. You have to be able to find those people in your life who, no matter what, care about you. There is always someone who does. You will be missed — don’t ever think otherwise. I honestly know how that feels, and you don’t think anyone would care, but I promise there is always someone who does. You touch people’s lives who you didn’t even know.

I know a day is going to come along when I write that the only positive thing that happened that day is, “I am still alive.” To some, that may sound very harsh and unexpected. However, for the unfortunate few who understand, sometimes that’s all we can do. And that is OK. You’re not expected to do something amazing and world-changing every day. It’s OK that some days all you did was exist. The fact that you are still alive to see tomorrow is worth celebrating. You have a purpose that has yet to be fulfilled, and sticking around another day is important to fulfilling that purpose. I’ve had days where the fact I ate cereal was like I had won an Olympic medal. It’s OK that sometimes all you did was live and breathe. Each day is a new chance to start over, and it will all be OK. So when the day comes where all I can come up with is that I am alive, I will write that down then turn the page, because tomorrow is a fresh start.

If you or someone you know needs help, visit our suicide prevention resources page.

If you need support right now, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255, the Trevor Project at 1-866-488-7386 or text “START” to 741-741.

We want to hear your story. Become a Mighty contributor here.

Thinkstock photo via stevanovicigor

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4 Changes in My Morning Routine That Indicate Depression Is Back

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I have really been struggling lately. Every moment of every day has felt like a battle for the past two weeks. My depression has come back in full force, no longer a silent undertone here and there, but an overwhelming presence. My days are now filled with the crushing weight of numbness and suicidal thoughts while the impending doom of finals week continues to make things worse. The differences in where I was with my mental health and where I am now are most predominate in my morning routine.

Here are some of the ways my morning routine has been impacted by my mental illness.

1. Same amount of time for less.

I used to really enjoy my morning routine. I used to think of it as my “me time,” first thing in the morning before my boyfriend wakes up and before the responsibilities of the day meet me on the other side of our apartment door. I would wake up three hours before I needed to leave the house for class, allowing time for exercise (usually yoga), a shower, time to get my thick hair in order, put on my face, eat breakfast, get dressed and pack my bag for the day. Those three hours gave me time to do so much and now it takes that same amount to do far less.

 Now, it takes me three hours to do the bare minimum for me to get ready for the day. It takes three hours for me to get out of bed, sometimes shower, throw a hat on, cover up my dark circles, eat something and head off to school. My morning routine now must account for the time in-between tasks when I am frozen and putting off the day because of the sheer amount of effort that goes into doing everything. When I am depressed, even the smallest of things turn into enormous amounts of effort. Effort that I just can’t make my body put forth. Because of this, I’ve had to adapt my morning routine so I can save what little effort I do have for bigger things throughout the day.

2. Waterproof makeup.

If I do decide to put makeup on, it’s usually a bit different on my depression heavy days. My goal isn’t making the makeup look pretty, but instead being the most practical in the likely case of tears. I replace my usual mascara for waterproof. I skip my favorite eyeliner, knowing it will end up smeared down to my cheeks by the end of the day. Contouring is also skipped and extra bursts of fixing mist is added in hopes it will hold what little of makeup I do have on in case of a flood.

3. Jewelry.

Ever since I was little, I have really enjoyed wearing jewelry and layering many pieces together. I guess it’s a part of playing dress up that never left me. I wear less of it when I am depressed, but put more thought into picking it out for the day. I choose symbols of strength such as my Leo Zodiac necklace and Wonder Woman ring. I also strap on my Fitbit with its guided breathing feature as it is often helpful in times of distress. These little reminders I wear are sometimes the only things that make me feel prepared to handle the day.

4. Punctuality.

I have always been the perpetual “early bird,” usually showing up or being ready at least 15 minutes earlier than I need to be. However, when my depression starts to have a greater presence in my life, I have started leaving the house later and later. I find myself choosing not to do some of the morning chores, making them my boyfriend’s responsibility in the process. For example, I have lately been completely unable to walk our dog in the morning. I just can’t do it. Leaving these things that I potentially could do up to my partner at the last minute often make us race against the clock right before we leave.

Through therapy, I have learned the concept of emotional avoidance. My depression will convince me to avoid thoughts, feelings, physical sensations and other experiences, even though doing so creates a deeper depression in the long run. Even though I have become familiar with this concept, it still takes a lot of work to practice. My intention for the coming week is to do the opposite of what my depression suggests in an effort to get back to my usual routine and break this spiraling cycle. My first step is unrolling that yoga mat Monday morning when my alarm goes off instead of hitting snooze.

Wish me luck!

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6 Ways to Support Someone During a Depressive Crisis

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It can be frightening to watch a friend sink into a depressive crisis, especially if they have been going along well for a while.

Some may believe their latest downward spiral is a need for attention, or a result of not taking care of themselves. Others may suggest they know exactly what they are feeling, or may make other thoughtless comments that intensify the situation. Sometimes the person with depression isolates him or herself and shies away from contact — at least, that is what I normally do.

If I am depressed, these are a few of the things that have helped me to help myself. I’ve been lucky to have found a good support network over the past year and the friendship and understanding has helped me immensely.

1. Encourage me to talk about how I am feeling.

Understand my symptoms are horribly unpleasant and consuming for me, but I do not always realize I am thinking or acting a certain way because of them. Talking about them can help me to become aware of how they relate and notice I am being unreasonable or engaging in poor coping skills.

2. Help me to identify what triggered the crisis.

It is often something small and seemingly insignificant that can lead to a mental breakdown. Sometimes the simple act of expressing the toxic feelings that are inside can help me to feel better. Often, it takes time for me to admit what it was that “broke the camel’s back” because it feels so embarrassing to admit to something seemingly tiny created such a storm within me. But once the connection is made, it can really help to commence healing!

3. Listen without judgment.

I am already ashamed of my own feelings and the way I am acting because of them. If you are seeing me cry, it is because my pain has reached the point when I can no longer hide it and I am incredibly vulnerable right now. Listen and let me talk, ask questions to help draw me out, but please do not try to tell me you know what I am feeling, or pass judgment on the validity of my fears.

4. Ask me if I am safe.

The most powerful thing someone has ever said to me during a depressive crisis was, “Are you safe?” The second most powerful thing was, “Can I come and sit with you?” Suicidal thoughts can sometimes become obsessive when a person is deeply depressed. Having to stop and think about if they are safe or not can help put a break into the circuit and help refocus them. Don’t be embarrassed to ask!

5. Share your own safety plan with me.

A friend once encouraged me to write up a “Suicide Safety Plan.” I admit I had never heard of it before. Sitting down and writing it out helped me focus and break the cycle of thoughts that were going through my mind. She shared her own with me so I knew the types of things I needed to be considering and the people who should be included.

6. Set boundaries for yourself.

Ask me what you can do to help and be honest if you are not able to be there to support me. I understand helping someone with depression is tough and you may not be emotionally strong enough at this particular time to handle it without it taking a toll on you. Please be truthful about your own limitations. I do not expect you to sacrifice your own mental health for mine.

All of us need support from time to time, but with mental illness, it is particularly hard to know what to do or say at times. Everyones needs are different and how they will respond will depend on what they are going through. But personally, the above things have helped me and I hope they could help you or someone you know too!

If you or someone you know needs help, visit our suicide prevention resources page.

If you need support right now, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or text “START” to 741-741.

We want to hear your story. Become a Mighty contributor here.

Thinkstock photo via AntonioGuillem.

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