By: Sarah Armour, Self-Advocate
I had a rough time during the holidays and winter months that resulted in depression. Having depression stinks so much! When I am depressed, I feel like nothing in life really matters. It feels like a dark cloud even when fun or exciting things happen.
Things have settled down now and I should feel great. Instead, I feel down and numb. My brain is yelling at me, “Are you stupid? You are supposed to be beaming with joy now that the anxiety has passed!” The human brain is so big and beautiful, yet it can be so out of control sometimes!
One of the biggest lessons I’m trying to teach myself is accepting the messiness of managing depression. This is all due to a chemical imbalance in my brain. When we get a cut or a bruise, we don’t blame ourselves. Why do we blame ourselves for our depression?
I can always feel depression coming on and I want to push it away, so I don’t have to deal with it. Now I make myself sit with it without judgment. You can’t change how you feel, but you can be prepared.
I prepare myself by making sure I prioritize self-care.
The first way I care for myself is through exercise. No matter how you choose to exercise, whether it’s walking, running, swimming or yoga, exercise releases endorphins in your body that make you feel happier. I was never really “an exercise person” until I discovered Zumba. My first Zumba class was magical. It made me feel alive, energized, free, open, and in a happier headspace. Being committed to a class makes me feel accountable.
Relaxation is another important self-care tool for me. I like to take a warm bath with lighted candles. Creating this calming atmosphere makes me feel serene. It makes me feel like I’m in a cocoon. I also like to spend time by the lake and listen to upbeat music. When I’m by the lake, I feel free. Being connected to nature lets me live in the moment and forget about everything else for a while. There are lots of different ways to relax. I also like watching my favorite TV shows and movies and reading my favorite books.
Connecting with Others
My final self-care tool is connecting with others. Often when I’m feeling depressed the last thing I want to do is to connect with people. But I challenge myself to make plans with people because it will make me feel better. Sometimes I might warn them how I am feeling. I walk away feeling understood and loved when just a few hours before I wanted to hide from the world.
The bottom line is depression is painful. I should treat my depression like I would a bruise or cut with first aid, self-care, and no judgment about the situation.
About the author: Sarah Armour has been the Business Assistant at JJsList.com since 2011 and she graduated college in 2008 from Loras College.