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5 Things I Remind Myself When I'm Depressed

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When I’m faced with a depressive episode, my colorful world turns gray. An ominous dark cloud follows me everywhere, settling when I have an inkling of positive thoughts. Depressive episodes turn me into a slug, moving slowly, leaving a sad slime in my wake. I try to cope, but sometimes my usual coping mechanisms have no effect on my dreary mood. One thing I try to do is make lists: a gratitude list, a list of things in my life I want to remember and a list of what I need to remind myself when depression hits:

1. You are not alone.

Depression is isolating and lonely and tries to make me believe I am the only one experiencing what seems like a never-ending plunge into darkness. But in reality, I am not alone. There are millions of people just like me who understand what I’m going through and can relate to what I am feeling.

2. Someone is depending on you.

My daughter just turned one. And even though she is pretty self sufficient and independent, she still depends on me for her basic needs: food, a clean diaper and a hot bath. She depends on me for her emotional and intellectual needs, as well: teaching her words, reading to her, cuddling her and enjoying special moments with her. I can’t do any of that if I’m glued to my bed feeling hopeless. I have to get up because she needs me. I have to let her give me hope.

3. One step at a time.

When depression takes over, I have no motivation, and even the smallest tasks seem daunting. Cleaning the litter boxes seems like too big a task to complete. Bathing my daughter seems too complicated to do. Instead of getting caught up in the sea of tasks I have to complete, I split the sea into rivers, smaller tasks done throughout the day, and it’s not so daunting anymore.

4. You are strong.

I feel fragile when I’m depressed — like the mirror I refuse to look into because my self-esteem is at its lowest. Even though I feel frail, I’m not. I’m just having feelings of inadequacy because the depression doesn’t allow me to think realistically. Realistically, I am tough. I’ve been through bad breakups, fights with my friends and childbirth! And I came out OK, ready to take on the next challenge.

5. Your medication is working; take it! 

“If my medication were really working, why am I still having down days?” I ask myself this question at the start of each depressive episode, ignoring the advice of my doctor who told me everyone has bad days regardless of whether or not they are taking medication. Without my medication, my depression would be completely debilitating, and the suicidal thoughts would come back. My medication is helping me more than I realize when I’m depressed, and it is so important that I keep taking it. 

My depressive episodes are not pleasant. I don’t want to get out of bed. I don’t want to take on the day. I just want to cocoon myself in my blankets and forget my responsibilities. But I can’t. I have to get out of bed and untie myself from the shadow trying to keep me there. I have to get out of bed for my daughter, for myself and for my health. Reminding myself of these things makes it easy to make it through the day and make it to tomorrow.

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

If you need support right now, call the Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.

Originally published: May 2, 2016
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