If you’ve ever struggled with depression, you know how hard it can be when you feel no one else understands what you are going through. But when you suffer from chronic, long-term high-functioning depression, the struggle feels even harder.
One of the hardest things is trying to get those in your life who have never struggled with depression, to understand what it’s like. Depression isn’t feeling sad, its feeling empty. In fact, it can sometimes be numbness, loneliness but not in a way that you want to be around people. Depression is seeing the blessings and love around you, but not being able to fully be present in the moment. Depression isn’t living in the past, it’s struggling to find your place in the here and now – to be grounded in your life. It’s trying everything and feeling like you’re failing no matter what you do or what worked in the past.
High functioning depression is harder in that people don’t “see” your depression because you still do the things you need to do. You’re out of bed, you’re keeping your kids alive and cared for. You’re cooking and cleaning and doing the laundry. But all of that is just going through the motions – robot mode. You’re doing the things, but you’re not there doing them. You’ve checked out, but you know how to trick people into thinking you are fine. Or they’ve just become so accustomed to high-functioning depressed you that they don’t see what is really going on. And then you fear saying you’re depressed because they won’t believe you. And so you silently cry when no one is looking.
I’ve compiled a list of ways that I keep myself together while struggling with a bout of depression. These are not meant to cure you or make you feel better instantly, these re ways to see the good when all you are feeling is the bad.
- KEEP YOUR DAILY ROUTINE. This is the most important for me. If I stray from my day-to-day routine, I’m most certainly going to fall into bad habits like sitting on the couch and watching 5 episodes of Grey’s Anatomy while drinking an entire pot of coffee. Make sure to pick up at least one room of your house, do a load of laundry, go for a walk. Even if you still feel awful, at least you aren’t breaking your daily routine so when the depression lifts, you’ll still be doing what makes you feel your best. This also includes your hygiene routine – shower, brush hair, brush teeth, put on “real clothes”.
- JOURNAL. This might be the top of the list for me. Journal everything you’re thinking out onto paper. Don’t feel like you have to explain yourself or have it make sense. Just brain dump onto the page and get it out of your head. You might even find what has been bothering you – and it might not be close to what you thought was really niggling at you.
- TEXT A FRIEND. Opening up to those around you about what you’re going through can be a major help. Text someone you trust and let them know you’re having a tough time. You don’t need to explain it, they don’t need to ask questions, just let them know you’re reaching out to let someone know.
- CANCEL PLANS. It’s okay to say no even if you already committed to something. It will help no one if you continue to burn yourself out just for the sake of someone else. If they care, they’ll understand.
- CRY. SCREAM. FEEL. Let yourself feel whatever emotions are coming up. Ignoring them will just make it worse. This is the best time to lean into your feminine energy and keep everything flowing, rather than damming it up with your masculine/refuse-to-feel-and-flow energy.
- REACH OUT TO YOUR THERAPIST/COUNSELOR. And if you don’t have one, find one. This is important. Even if you do not go in for a session, letting them know where you’re at can help them help you in your next one. When you are transparent with your support team, they’ll know how to better support you when you really need it.
- EAT REAL FOOD. Don’t fall in the depressive, emotional eating trap. Be sure to have lots of fruits and veggies, even if you spend a little more on already prepared fruits or takeout meals. Limiting sugar and processed foods will help you keep from feeling even more depressed.
I’d love to hear how you get through depressive episodes, so let me know in the comments.
Also – remember there is NOTHING wrong with you for having depression. You are not less than, less worthy, not good enough, etc. Most of us are just highly sensitive to emotions and moods of our own and others! Remember, you are important to me and I love you.
Much Love, Laura Sirena