A Good Day Vs. a Bad Day With Depression

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What it’s like to have both good and bad days living with depression.

Read the full transcript:

A Good Day Vs. a Bad Day With Depression

On a good day, when I stay in bed, it’s because I want to lay there for a few extra minutes, just to stretch my legs and look at my phone…

On a bad day, I wake up with a brick on my chest, pinning me down, making getting up seem impossible.

When I’m feeling OK, I’m late to work because I got distracted, took a wrong turn and it’s just been “one of those mornings…”

When depression takes over, I’m running to late to work because I spent an hour debating whether or not it was worth going at all — or if it would be better to stay home, and climb back into bed.

Depression is distraction, not because I’m thinking about my weekend plans,

but because I can’t focus over the constant stream of negative thoughts running through my head.

It’s the difference between taking a nap because you’re tired,

and taking a nap because you want to escape, because there’s nothing worth doing when you’re awake.

It’s not doing chores, not because you’re busy

but because you can’t find the energy or motivation to get up.

What you see might be laziness. Procrastination. Forgetfulness. When I’m having a bad with with depression, it’s so much more than that. Don’t assume you know what’s going through my head.

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25 Unexpected Coping Techniques That Help People With Depression

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When struggling with a mental illness like depression, sometimes there are days when getting out of bed feels improbable, showering unattainable and interacting with the outside world, downright impossible. On tough days like these, “traditional” coping strategies may not work as well as we’d like. To combat the depression symptoms that can affect us in surprising ways, sometimes we must get creative with our coping techniques.

For those of you who feel like you’ve exhausted every coping strategy in your arsenal and still can’t find any relief, this one’s for you. To give you some fresh coping ideas, we asked members of our mental health community to share the unexpected coping techniques that help them manage depression.

Here’s what they shared with us:

1. “Being in the outdoors by myself. There’s something calming about the quiet with just nature around me with fresh air.” — Tess B.

2. “I read ‘Harry Potter.’ I’m escaping reality for a short time and spending it with characters I have grown to love so dearly over the years, and it is extremely comforting and refreshing.” — Stephanie N.

3. “Seems really childish… but I love to put Elmer’s glue on my hands and peel it off when it dries. This is so satisfying to me that my depression and anxiety lessen when I do it.” — Geriann C.

4. “If anything helps, it’s video games. They are like an escape for me, as well as a way to make my mind busy. They often give me help when I feel the depression is too much.” — Matthew Z.

5. “I talk to my mum in the morning if I have depression or anxiety. She always knows how to cheer me up. My days are getting so much better.” — Emily K.

6. “[I keep] a daily gratitude list. When you’re in a depressive funk, it’s difficult to think of anything to be grateful for, but it’s like strengthening your gratitude muscle… Sometimes it was as simple as the sun coming up or the fact that I had food that day. Now, people call me one of the most optimistic people they know, and I think a lot of it has to do with the fact that now I’m always in a state of gratitude.” — Chris B.

7. “[I do] whatever I don’t feel like doing. If I don’t want to study, I do that. If I feel like skipping gym and sleeping all day, I get my boxing gloves ready. Music helps. A shower helps. Just ruffling my own hair or giving myself a hug or a compassionate pat helps.” — Basma A.

8. “Being totally alone. Walking, biking, hiking through our bush. Hacking at weeds in my garden. Just being outside in general. But I need to be alone. No kids, no husband around. Just me and my thoughts until I can push past them.” — Kaitlyn P.

9. “Cryptograms. I know it sounds like a small thing, but I find that if I busy my brain with puzzle solving, it distracts enough from the depression/anxiety.” — Helen L.

10. “Community service! I would force myself to get out and go volunteer! I’ve always loved service and was even in a service fraternity in college, so I’m lucky to know so many organizations in the area that need some extra hands! Giving back always restores my sense of purpose, and being around such caring people really helps distract me from the darker thoughts depression can bring.” — Kacie S.

11. “Listening to sad music, as ironic as that sounds. It helps me to express my depression and emotions, and then I usually feel better. Sad songs help me cry it all out. Definitely a way to release all the emotional tension and then I generally feel better afterwards.” — Katie M.

12. “Crossfit! You have no idea no much 15 strangers motivating you to strive for your best boosts your esteem and makes you feel good!” — Doniqua R.

13. “I carry crystals around with me. Different ones are for different things, but when I get sad or nervous or anxious, I reach into my pockets and roll them around. It helps [me] get out the negative energy and keeps me focused on something positive.” — Jen D.

14. “Laying on the floor. It helps me feel ‘grounded’ in a literal sense. I need to become grounded and muster up the strength to get moving with my day. The first obstacle is getting out of bed. Picking myself up off the floor is more bearable.” — Kara M.

15. “[I treat] my depression as a person. I am able to separate myself from him and talk to him, let him know I’m not going to be involved with him, but he can stay a little while.” — Lanta S.

16. “Dancing. I teach Zumba classes, and as long as I consistently teach, my anxieties and depression stay away. It forces me to be around other people who are ready to have a great class and depend on me to pull them through it. Plus the music is so uplifting and I try to choose music that empowers myself to be a better ‘me’ every day.” — Kara K.

17. “This might sound weird, but I get myself to cry… I will watch something or listen to something that I know makes me cry and then just let it all out, bawl my head off. Sometimes I pace and pray and let the tears flow. A good cry seems to wash it all away and I feel better afterwards.” — Jen V.

18. “Doing crafts I used to do as a child. Going back to when things were simple and life hadn’t hit just yet. Popsicle sticks, glue, glitter — all the silly things I used to play with. Then my imagination starts to develop.” Jennie L.

19. “Doing ‘hands on’ things. My boyfriend is a mechanic, and him and his co-workers get me to stay up at the shop with them to make sure I’m safe… Right now, they let me help with tire changes and oil changes. It’s also relaxing for me.” — Jessica D.

20. “Taking a social ‘day off’ — not looking at social media, ending conversations quickly (still politely), having lunch alone and going right home to my dog after work. These are dry shampoo and yesterday’s makeup [kind of] days. Limiting social time greatly reduces the accompanying feeling of guilt for not trying hard enough on my appearance. Allowing myself to view my depression as private rather than isolating has truly saved me.” — Riley F.

21. “Watching YouTube makeup/fashion tutorials. People like Learning to be Fearless, GlamLifeGuru, Sometimesglam and GlamandGore help me to get out of bed, feel OK, and [it] takes a lot of the pressure off trying to figure out what to wear or how to get ready for the day.” — Erin W.

22. “[I] go to the flower nursery… to be around all those beautiful and colorful flowers. [It] makes me feel happy, and if I get to buy one, even better! I love doing this with my fiancé.” — Kim S.

23. “I constantly send myself messages on Facebook [and] tell myself things like, ‘I love you.’” — Momina M.

24. “Praying and staying cool — as in lying directly in front of the fan or having air directly on me. I [have] MS, which at times, heightens my anxiety and depression. I have to stay cool for the many ‘flashes’ I get from the MS, but I find that the air actually helps me to calm down and relax. I kinda think of it as being alone on an island, and I just go into relax mode.” — Christy L.

25. “Making a good cup of tea. First, I make [the tea] nice and strong and black, then I add the milk and watch the milk clouds swirl in the dark cup, creating a lovely beige brew. It helps me to remember it’s not all bad. It’s not all darkness. All [I] have to do is add a dash of milk.” — Jade W.

What would you add?

Thinkstock photo via openeyed11.


25 Unexpected Coping Techniques That Help People With Depression
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The Physical Symptoms of Mental Illness I Wish People Understood

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While the constant lack of knowledge surrounding mental illness I notice in today’s society never ceases to surprise me, what really gets to me is when people don’t understand the physical effects of mental illness on the body.

I am pretty open with my close friends about my anxiety and depression. If I’m having a bad day they can usually read it on me, or I will straight up tell them. But for those people in my life that I don’t quite feel like spilling all the beans to, I imagine sometimes my behaviors and complaints can seem unwarranted or whiny.

When I’m going through a rough streak with my depression, which happens a lot during the winter, my entire body aches constantly. I feel like I’m 90 years old. Standing for long periods of time is utterly exhausting and hurts my legs. My joints protest when I move too quickly or bend down. I go through periods of eating everything in sight, to eating just one small snack during an entire day. I get headaches in the back of my head three to four times a week. Every time I get out of bed in the morning and place my feet on the ground, I can physically feel the weight of the world pressing down on me through the soles of my feet. And even if I set my alarm to wake me up at an appropriate time after eight hours of sleep, fall into a deep sleep for 12 hours, or hardly sleep at all during the night, I am tired.

I am always tired.

But it’s beyond the point of “just being tired,” like you had a late night doing homework. I can barely function without coffee as is, but if I don’t get caffeine into my system within an hour of waking, I start falling asleep the moment I sit down or lean up against something. It’s a kind of foreign exhaustion that I feel threading itself through my veins like a slow-working, liquid poison.

Depending on the day, this is not all that happens to my body. When anxiety strikes, it strikes hard. If depression is ice, freezing me in place and slowing my movements; anxiety is fire, and my entire body is kindling. My chest hurts because my heart wants to escape my ribcage. My hands and fingers shake. My brain thinks it’s trying to win the next Daytona 500. I get nauseous. And there go my fingernails, again.

I would like to mention these are not the only physical effects of mental illness on the body, they are simply the ones I am familiar with. Others may deal with different symptoms that affect them in different ways.

When I write open-heartedly like this, I am not trying to cry out for attention. I am not looking for pity. I’m trying to raise awareness. The more time I spend in college and the more people I talk to, I realize that mental illness also has a tight hold on many of my peers. 

So the next time one of your friends or family members is talking about how much their body aches, or how they have this annoying little headache, listen to them. Don’t just write it off as “being lazy,” or “sensitive,” or “looking for attention.” Sure, sometimes when you get a headache you can still function. You can still go to the store, meet up with a friend, go for a walk and complete daily tasks. But for someone with a mental illness that is chewing them up from the inside out, the physical effects on the body are real and begin to feel like just one more thing that isn’t in their favor. If they let you know this, then they are trusting you. They are chiseling out a piece of that wall that has been built and sticking out a sign for help.

Be kind. Listen.

Follow this journey on Living in 24FPS.

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Unsplash photo via Imani Clovis

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The Small, but Helpful Tool That Helps Me Cope With Depression

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Living with a mental illness often makes day to day responsibilities much more difficult. Getting out of bed in the morning can be the hardest thing you do all day. Remembering to brush your teeth can feel like a pipe dream and just the idea of leaving the house can induce a full-blown panic attack.

A few years ago, I was in counseling and I learned to start slow with my goals. I was to write a list of one or two things I wanted to accomplish that day and do everything in my power to get them done. At first, I struggled to even make a list. It took so much energy to think of things I wanted to accomplish. I felt like there were too many things that needed doing. I would get overwhelmed and I’d give up before even putting a pen to paper. I kept trying anyway and eventually I was able to start putting list-making into practice.

Sometimes my to-do list consisted of bathing and feeding myself. Other days I needed to call the doctor and book an appointment. That may seem like just a few minutes out of an entire day, but it could take all the energy I had and hours of preparing myself just to accomplish that one thing. Some days I couldn’t complete my list and I tried to practice forgiveness and patience with myself. I would remind myself that it was OK to struggle and give myself permission to try again tomorrow. I tried my best everyday and that was what mattered.

Over time, I got better at checking things off of my to-do lists. Drawing a line through my accomplished goal was the best feeling ever. I felt so proud of myself. I did my best to celebrate whatever I had gotten done and tried to be OK with whatever I hadn’t. There was always more that needed doing, but I did my best to let what I did be enough.

When you’re terrified to pick up a phone but you make the call anyway, you feel like you could take on the world, even if just for a moment. When taking the bus makes you panic but you chose to ride one so you could get to your therapy appointment, you gain confidence in yourself. This confidence builds up over time. Crossing things off your list may not feel like much when you do it, but I promise you they are adding up. Each seemingly small goal that you accomplish is another building block in raising your self-esteem.

Over time, my lists have gotten longer. Some days I’ll have up to 10 goals and I’ll accomplish six. Other days, my list doesn’t exist and I lay in bed all day watching movies. The point is that I keep trying. I keep making goals for myself and doing my best to make them happen. I congratulate myself when I accomplish something that I was terrified to do. I look back over all the steps I’ve taken and I am proud of myself for how far I’ve come. There are days when I forget about this progress and I drown in the things left undone, but I let myself rest and I get back on track as soon as I can.

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

If you struggle with self-harm and you need support right now, call the crisis hotline at 1-800-273-8255 or text “START” to 741-741. For a list of ways to cope with self-harm urges, click here.

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Thinkstock photo via Cn0ra 

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How Depression Is Like Silence and Nothingness

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Depression gets a lot of metaphors. Many of those who struggle with it describe it as a cloud over their head; as swimming in deep water that they can’t break the surface in or as a constant buzzing in their thoughts. These metaphors are an attempt to describe the impossible — to describe an indescribable feeling to those who have never experienced it.

For me, depression is a silence. It’s not the good type of silence you find when a dog finally stops barking or when you sink into a hot bath after a long day. My depression is a bad silence — a heavy weight that dulls my emotions, my reflexes and my thoughts. It is the silence of thick mud oozing across a forest after heavy rain. It is cotton wool in my head and the unsettling way your hearing goes funny when your ears pop.

This silence is stifling and overwhelming like how a car feels on a really hot day. That feeling you get when you are in a crowd of people who you can hear all around you but you aren’t really listening to. This silence feeds on your emotions, clouds your thoughts and leaves you feeling numb. You are detached from others around you, not really taking in what they are saying. Food has no taste, pain feels distant and sleep is your only refuge so you do it far too much.

People think depression means feeling sad all the time but it doesn’t — depression means feel nothing at all. Depression is silence — uncomfortable silence you cannot ignore or get away from. It is constant and unrelenting.

So when I find myself singing along with the radio or humming a song I don’t know the words to, I breathe a sigh of relief. Singing to myself means this episode of silence has finally broken. I survived. I am me again. When I find myself singing again I sing a little louder, even though I sing out of tune. The silence didn’t beat me and though I know the silence will come back eventually, I sing regardless. It is only because of the silence that I know how sweet the music is — even when it is me singing out of tune — so I continue to sing.

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Comfort Zone: A Letter to My Depression

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I couldn’t tell you why, but it became abundantly clear at age 10 or 11 that I was “broken.” It was like something inside of me cracked and out came depression, seeping from my mouth, my eyes, my skin. So sudden and out of nowhere. And I didn’t have the words for what was wrong with me then, for what I was feeling – all I knew was that I wasn’t the same person.

I can’t remember for the life of me, and I’m not sure I even want to. I know I was far too fresh to be so cold, too young to feel so old, too innocent to be so broken – a child bombarded with mental illness. A child so angry not knowing why and as for life, I just wanted to forfeit.

For the life of me I can’t remember — when did I become so jaded? When did my life begin to end? How have I survived so long in this purgatory and can I ever really start living?

I don’t know who I am but I know this isn’t who I want to be.

I’m talking to you. Depression – my uncomfortable comfort zone, I don’t. want. you. Loosen your grip on me please, I think I have something to live for. I think I’m just a small part of something that’s been saving me and I think I could do something more, do something good out of what you’ve done to me. If I can keep going from the words of others, the knowledge that I am not alone, perhaps my words can be that for someone. I don’t want this to have all been for nothing.

Depression, you stole me way too young, way too early in life. I wasn’t given a fair chance but I am still here. I am. still. here. That has to mean something.

Because at 12 years old, just a child, not being able to imagine life beyond the next year — how. dare. you. How dare you throw your dark blanket over my fragile body, so heavy, that all dreams and possibilities started to fade in my preteen mind? How dare you numb this young heart and dull the memories. How dare you take up all of my time. And I know now that it’s not my fault but it’s my mind and my mind has been taken over by this illness — by you.

Depression. Where I once saw vibrant colors, now muted shadows and I tried so hard to see through it. I swear I tried to see the truth but depression, you are so good at making me the fool.

I’ve had enough. Far too long, I let you win. I let you control and take and take some more and time passed and now thanks to you I can’t remember how I even got here, but I am.

And I know. I know you are not something a pill or a combination of pills can make disappear for good. You are not something a brain surgeon can cut away, but I know I can live. I’ve been surviving, merely existing for over a decade, but this time I want to live. I will not let your false comfort smother me anymore.

Depression, you’re an uninvited illness in my mind but I can and will fight back this time. In my 23 years, I’ve just been existing but I swear I’m going to learn to live with you.

I’m done being ashamed of my mental state.

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Thinkstock photo via va103

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