I have a fairly simple policy with my writing in all forms. I will write for myself, and just hope that there will be other people in similar situations or of similar mindsets who may enjoy and/or benefit from what I have written.
I have depression and anxiety (amongst other things). While I’m being medicated for it, the medication doesn’t stop me from being anxious or depressed. It just makes it … less severe. I still have negative thoughts, I still have panic attacks, I still have episodes of acute anxiety to stimulus, but I have a bit more mental clarity. I have that tiny bit more headspace, alertness, ability to cope with it. I think.
But I still don’t really have that much motivation, and I’m very deliberately not launching into ‘I’m totally going to do this, this and this all the time because it’s good for me’. I have very limited energy right now, so I’m carefully selecting and doing really small things that help build me (from the ground up) into a healthier, more positive space. If I can’t do that thing one day / week, that’s fine, I cut back to basics and wait until I have energy again. I’m not going to suggest going out for a hike, or taking up yoga, or drinking kale smoothies because I don’t have the energy for that, and I know most other people with depression don’t either. I’m not going to suggest taking a long bath, or cleaning your room, because when just having a shower is exhausting, cleaning your room is going to be too much as well. Eating well is all well and good, but that also requires effort, energy, and thought.
It’s important for people with depression to realise that it’s okay. It’s okay to not be okay. It’s okay to not get out of bed for days. It’s okay to not go outside. It’s okay to not do dishes. It’s okay to not do washing. It. Is. Okay.
Take it right back to basics. You can get up to pee? Take a glass of water back to bed with you. Can’t make a meal to eat? Cereal and milk (if you can, chop a banana or another easy fruit that you like on top) is a perfectly acceptable meal (I’ll often do oats, flax seed, a sprinkle of LSA and a chopped banana). Can’t do the dishes? Buy plastic plates. You are allowed to do things to make your life easier! You are not required to do all these things you are “supposed to do”!
Be kind to yourself. I don’t just mean pamper yourself, or love yourself, because if you’re ambivalent about yourself while you’re depressed you’re doing well. I mean give yourself permission to not do things. Spend a few minutes every few hours assessing your energy levels and how much you feel you can expend.
No energy? That’s okay, cuddle back into bed or back onto the couch and nap. If you can, a cuppa tea is often warming and comforting. I personally love Earl Grey if I want caffeinated, or rooibos tea (with milk and honey) if it’s later in the day.
Little bit of energy? Cool! Next time you get up to pee, do a little thing. I’ll often take a couple of mugs that I have inevitably forgotten on the arm of the couch into the kitchen and put them in the dishwasher when I get up for any reason.
Got a bit more energy? Neat! Is there one thing you would really like to start on today? Wiping down one bench top is enough! Picking up tissues and putting them in the bin is enough! If you feel you are able to do more, that’s awesome! Be sure to not just use that energy on cleaning or cooking, but also on yourself. Having a shower and putting on fresh undies makes a world of difference. Clean sheets are luxurious.
It has taken me a very long time to realise and even longer to accept that I can’t do everything, and that’s okay. It took reading it, over and over again, for me to get the picture. It’s hard, I’ve actually got a lot to do and a lot to organise and a lot of associated anxiety with it. But I’m making decisions to make my life easier – like paying someone to clean the crate I haven’t cleaned in over a year that’s been living in my garage and I really need to return to the person I borrowed it from. And asking friends to help me do tasks I just can’t bring myself to face, like sort out my wardrobe and get rid of all the shit I don’t wear (which is about 90% of my clothes). It turns an insurmountable task into a fun, manageable one with two pairs of hands, some chocolate, and some good music. And most of the time, we say ‘yeah we’ll totally do that’ and then end up vegging out on the couch, and that’s also totally okay.
So please, if you’re reading this and you’re depressed, just remember, it’s okay.