May is Mental Health Awareness month and I want to take a break from the usual on A Bubbly Life and be part of the very important conversation of mental health and continue to share my experience with clinical depression. I think one of the ways to break the stigma of mental health is to talk about it and for others to see that so many people are living with it and can be successful within the struggle.
I am still unmedicated for my depression, unfortunately, the medication that may work best for me I cannot take while nursing (or when I was pregnant and I was SO bad then) I am in no way against medication, but have weighed the benefits of nursing and I have chosen to have bad days here and there and continue nursing. However, we check in on these bad days often in therapy and I am not sure if I will stay unmedicated. Mother’s Day brought a lot of grief and situational depression in and I have to see where I am at. So, there is my honesty. I have had incredible low days lately and it has been extremely difficult.
So, lets get on to the tips 😉
goal digger print
1) Make tiny, obtainable goals for your bad days. One of my usual goals is a shower! (I told you they were tiny!) (Although with new baby, showers are not such a tiny goal for me) I personally choose shower because being clean and getting dressed makes me feel good. I usually pick three super easy goals to accomplish on my low days. Shower, fold one load of laundry, take 3 photos for work… etc…
(sidenote: the goals are for me & stuff I need to get done in a day. I absolutely have to get kids dressed ready for school, breakfasts made, lunches, homework, play, deadlines for work done etc… So, the 3 goals are outside what absolutely has to be done)
2) Workout– happiness for everyone, not just depressed people! Exercise is a HUGE component in my mental wellness. It provides natural endorphins as well as personal satisfaction. And, tbh, I like to look good! And the better I feel about myself, the better I feel. But, the difficult part of this is low energy from depression. So, I made a commitment to myself that no matter how low I felt, I had to get up and do 30 minutes of bike at gym. It is my minimum requirement. Why did I choose that? Because it is my easiest workout, I can go slow and read my phone and while I don’t think I’m getting a good workout on my lowest energy days, it has created the routine. Sometimes, I do go back home and do nothing, but usually it gets my day on track. I miss workouts because of kids being sick, appointments etc but I do not miss a workout because I am depressed. If you cannot join a gym, I suggest a commitment to any daily activity- walking, running, jumping jacks- anything to get you going. Choose something small to commit to, so that even when you are so depressed, sluggish & sad, you can still do it. I think people with mental illness are so strong because we battle everyday, all day long. Pull from that strength and make a small commitment to overcome by doing something physical.
3) Keep a list of friends/family “in distress”
Depression is a very “self absorbed” (for lack of a better word) illness. I don’t mean that in a mean way, but in an honest way. I am stuck inside my head of obsessive thoughts and despair, sometimes so low I do not recognize what is going on around me. I remind myself that others are hurting and can use encouragement, love and kindness. I do not want my pain to encapsulate my life in such a way that I do not see others people’s pain. So, whether that be a friend’s parent who has cancer, a sick child, a friend going thru a divorce or an over stressed Mom dealing with 2 kids and just want to bitch about life… whatever it may be. Life is hard for everyone and we all have our own battles. Loving each other is what will make these times bearable and survivable. Send a text, a card, flowers and share the love. I like to think the bright side is your heart will soften and not harden due to your trials. I so want my growth from my experiences to be compassion for others, NOT bitterness and hate.
4) Start a gratitude journal/list. Everyday, write three things you are grateful for. It can be anything from a warm cup of coffee to an amazing job opportunity. Forcing yourself to focus on a couple positive things helps remind you there is some light in the darkness. I use the 5 minute journal and love it. Even on my lowest days I write it because Cole’s baby snuggles are ALWAYS something I can be thankful for!
I am not a doctor or a mental health professional, just a person who has depression and sharing my experiences. If you are suffering from depression/suicidal thoughts, please reach out- National Suicide Prevention Lifeline
And know that YOU ARE NOT ALONE.