When it comes to my moods and my emotions, my highs can be really high. But my lows can leave me wondering where those highs even came from in the first place. Here recently, I’ve been in an emotional rut that’s resulted in me not being able to enjoy life as much as I’d like and it’s had a negative impact on my productivity and self-image. I’ll feel so many things (although sometimes nothing at all) that I lock myself in my room in complete isolation with my blinds shut and my curtains closed. However, what happens to me a lot when I slide far down into depression is that I’ll grow so exhausted from the episodes, that I’ll have to come out of my funk, even if only temporarily, just to give myself a break from the influence the depression has over me at the time. In other words, while I may not be able to come out of my depression overall, I do what I can to build my strength up so that I can continue to move forward in dealing with my depression. This leads to me gradually coming out of the episode and once again living life in my highs.
I want to share the five things I do and the steps I take when my mind gets too heavy and I have to save myself.
1. Let yourself feel whatever you are feeling.
I have this habit of knowing when I’m about to crash, but staying in denial until it finally happens. This causes a mix of overwhelm and anxiety. During my last crash, I took a deep breath and made a conscious decision to let myself feel whatever I was feeling rather than remain in denial about anything. I didn’t put myself through a guilt trip over being overly sensitive or having a lack of energy. I allowed myself to acknowledge emotions and thoughts that I had previously ignored because they made me uncomfortable. It was tough, but it let me navigate my depression into a learning experience and it was relieving to be able to address things about myself that I hadn’t before.
When you feel a depression episode coming on, be honest in your feelings. Denying or ignoring anything can take far more mental work than it does to accept your mental state.
Accepting unaddressed emotions allows you to begin healing. Remember: You can’t solve an issue if you won’t believe it’s there.
While coming to terms with your thoughts and emotion don’t be hard on yourself for having them or for not handling them sooner. You’re handling them now and that’s amazing in itself. Give yourself credit for your growth.
2. Don’t force yourself into false feelings or moods.
In the spirit of being honest with yourself, it’s just as important to not feel as it is to feel. There are times when I will try to lie myself into a healthy mindset and after acting on an ingenuine mood change, I’ll regress right back into my episode. And it will happen quickly and harshly. Now, I don’t pretend to be in any mood that I’m not. I give myself permission to be angry, sad, irritated or whatever else I need to be. Feeling negative things suck, but faking positive feelings suck too. And when I don’t feel anything at all, I remind myself that that’s also valid and deserving of time to process.
It’s okay to be in a bad mood during your depression. While of course you should treat others kindly and respectfully regardless, you don’t owe anyone any of your already draining energy. Be nice, but don’t stress on being the life of the party when you don’t feel it.
Don’t let others invalidate how you feel with words like “It’s not that big of a deal” or “Things could be worse.” Whatever you are going through is real and remember to not let others project their opinions on to you. Be open to genuine advice, but recognize negating language.
Also, the bad emotions don’t have to last. Don’t convince yourself you’re sad when you aren’t or find reasons to be upset. Sometimes we’ll get used to negative feelings and stick with them. As you feel yourself feeling lighter, go with it.
3. Take time for yourself/ Disconnect.
Some don’t recommend isolation in states of depression, but sometimes being alone is the healthiest thing one can do for themselves. When I know I’m sensitive and can be triggered by things more than usual, I find it helpful to be on my own for a while. I take as much time as I need or as I can to be alone and cope in whatever way I think is necessary. I meditate, listen to music, sit in silence to think and reflect, or I simply stay in bed.
Turn off your phone or log off from social media. Being accessed at all times can be a sensory overload and constantly wondering about texts, notifications, or what’s happening on your social feed can be tiresome. It can also stunt your healing and add on to already heightened emotions and anxiety.
Cancel your plans or take time off from work/school (if able). You’re not a bad friend for not wanting to go out on a Friday night and you’re not a bad employee or student for calling in sick. You’re being responsible for putting yourself first.
Give notice when you drop off the face of the earth. When taking time to yourself (especially when you’re typically social), let those around you know that you’ll be unplugging and not responding. It eases the minds of those who care and eases your mind to know you aren’t worrying anyone you love.
4. Do nice things for yourself no matter how small or big.
As days pass and my mind begins to settle, I start to do little things here and there to make myself feel better. It can be as basic as taking a shower and making my bed or something bigger like making myself my favorite dinner. I enjoy the sun so to put myself in a happier mindset, I open my window and let the sun shine into my room and let fresh air in.
When starting to feel a bit better, this is a good time for positive reinforcement. Chances are you haven’t been speaking nicely to yourself, but now is the time! Remind yourself that you are valid, that you are strong, and flood your mind with compliments. It’s also helpful to remember the nice things others say about you. Appreciating others’ positive opinions of you can remind you of reasons to love yourself and put you in a better mood.
Don’t forget the things you like. Making art, watching TV, wearing a certain outfit, etc. Do the things that make you smile. You deserve to have a big smile on your face after such a trying time.
5. Return to life as usual, but take your time.
When I’m feeling better and can function more effectively, I’ll get excited about my mind adjustment and sometimes jump back into the fast lane before I’m ready. I return to social media, I make commitments, I take on responsibilities, and I’ll do it all at once. The increase in energy is enough for me to feel like I can take on the world, but it isn’t enough to actually do so. Not just yet, anyway.
Take care of yourself. Get out of bed, shower, get dressed, and eat something. Drink water. (If you haven’t been doing this already) focus on the physical self-care in addition to the mental. Get used to being active again.
Give attention to the necessities. Put your energy back into your work, school, and projects and catch up on responsibilities. If you feel too far behind in anything, don’t be afraid to ask for help in getting back on track.
Socialize with the people you love. Before returning to social media, touch base with the people you love and feed off their positive energy toward you. They’ll be happy to hear from you and know you’re doing better.
I hope these tips and ideas help you pull through whatever things you’re dealing with and inspires you to pass on your own tips and positive vibes to others dealing with mind obstacles.
I’m wishing you the best and I hope you open your blinds again soon.
Words by Georgia St. Jones.
Art design by Thania.
Art edited by Shannen Roberts.
Georgia St. Jones is a California broke girl using music, art, and literature as a way to be universal and staff contributor for The Strange is Beautiful.
Follow her here: Instagram, SoundCloud.
See her latest posts here.
Thania (she/her) is a quiet and observant artist who has struggled with bipolar disorder and social anxiety.
See her latest posts here.
Shannen Roberts (she/her) is the Peruvian-American, founding editor-in-chief of The Strange is Beautiful, musician and yogi.
Learn more about her here.