Wednesday, April 2, 2014

How to Fight Depression

Depression sucks.  It lies to you and tells you you are not enough, that you are a failure, that everyone dislikes you.  On top of that, it physically causes you pain too - headaches and stomach aches, fatigue, etc.

Since I was a teen I have struggled with depression.  Right around the time my parents split up, my mom left, and I was trying to make sense of everything, deep feelings of sadness and hopelessness crept in.  It wouldn't be until years later that I would have a name for what I was feeling, and it wouldn't be until more years later that I would finally move past the shame and stigma of depression and learn how to properly treat it.

Winter is often the time people with depression struggle more.   And if you live in Canada, even if you have never experienced depression before, this  possibly eternal winter that makes me feel like we are living in the Disney movie, Frozen, can bring the happiest person down.

 Here are some of the things I've learned over the years to help lift your mood when you are feeling low:

1.  Let the sunshine in.  Open up those curtains!  Soak up that vitamin D.
2.  Go outside.  The fresh air does wonders for your mood.
3.  Exercise.  I have yet to hear someone say they regret exercising.  Exercising gives you endorphins.  Endorphins make you happy!
4.  Eat healthy.  I struggle with this one, but I can tell you that I often feel sad after I eat too much sugar or wheat or caffeine.
5.  Get out of bed.  When you are depressed you want to stay in bed.  Sure, sometimes you may need an extra hour, or a nap to rest, but don't make it a habit.  Staying in bed too much when you are down will only make the problem worse.  Get up and get moving!
6.  Get dressed.  Being a stay at home mom it is easy to put off having a shower and living in sweats or pajama bottoms.  Take a shower, put something on that makes you feel beautiful and be amazed at how much better you feel than before you did that!
7.  Don't treat your pain with bad habits.  Too much shopping, drinking, or in my case - eating junk, will in the end leave you feeling worse than before.  It is only  temporary high, and when it is over you will feel guilty for your poor choices.
8.  Don't beat yourself up when you do.  We all do things we wish we didn't.  Don't beat yourself up.  Just get back on the horse.  Beating yourself up will only leave you feeling more depressed.
9.  Keep your schedule.  It's easy to want to cancel out on commitments when you are feeling so discouraged.  But continuing with life will help you get through the tough days.
10.  Form a support system.  Family and friends, positive influences in your life, and those who will lift and encourage you are the ones you need in your life.  Look to people you can trust to confide in.
11. Dance around your kitchen.  This ALWAYS makes me feel better.  Don't believe me? Try it. :)
12.  See a doctor.  Sometimes people need medication.  And there is no shame in that.  If nothing else is working and you aren't feeling better, go see your doctor.  I have been on medication on and off for 7 years, and consistently for over the past two years.  I used to hide this information due to fear of judgment, but over time I realized there were many around me who are on medication as well, and there are others who want to talk to their doctors about medication options but are too scared to.  When we are open about this kind of thing, it can help others seek the help they need.

Depression doesn't define you.  And there IS help out there.  Don't let it win.  Make a conscious effort to BEAT it.  With God by my side I am able to get out of bed each morning and fight depression with all I've got.  And though some days are harder than others, I can happily say that I am winning the battle.  You can too.

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