I started writing this blog post a few weeks ago when I was really in a low place. Some days it took me until 2:30 p.m. to get out of bed. I spent all day watching TV and I barely ate. Night after night, I was plagued by insomnia. Almost all of my groceries went bad each week because, even though I normally love to cook, I just couldn’t motivate myself to do it. I felt anxious and reclusive and just plain sad.
I’ll say upfront that I much prefer to write about my triumphs on the internet than my struggles. But it’s important to admit that some days (and even some weeks or months), depression and anxiety can smack me in the face out of nowhere. And it’s confusing, exhausting, frustrating and really sucky.
As a very achievement-oriented person, it’s hard not to feel ashamed when I slip into a depression like I did a few weeks ago. I struggled with thinking that if I just worked a little harder or had more discipline, I would be able to fix it and feel better. It’s so easy to be consumed by embarrassment, loneliness and shame. But I slowly committed to a few things that helped me make it through.
- I made an appointment with my psychiatrist as soon as I recognized the problem and I got a new medication that has helped dramatically.
- I went to therapy more.
- I took melatonin at 10 p.m. each night to ensure I was getting enough sleep, which is especially crucial for people with bipolar.
- I dove into self-help books.
- I dragged myself to a coffee shop each morning to give me a reason to get dressed and leave the house.
- I tried to create something each day, no matter how small (more on that later).
- I reached out to friends as much as I could to keep from isolating myself.
- I finally cleaned my disaster of a room and forced myself to keep it that way.
- I spent as much time as possible outside and in nature.
- I did yoga.
- I started writing down things I’m grateful for every morning
And little by little, I started to feel better.
Now, a few weeks later, I’m happier than I have been in a long time. I feel like myself again, I’ve re-established my positive habits, I’m exercising, and my drive and motivation are back (I’m finally finishing this post!).
I get really caught up in all the things I’m not doing when my mental health is in a bad place. But I’ve found that I have to be proud of the progress that I do make on bad days, even if it’s just getting out of bed and leaving the house before noon. If I can hold onto that pride, it helps carry me into doing a little more the next day. And then a little more the next. Overcoming depression is all about baby steps. But slowly, one day at a time, I promise it gets better.