Thursday, December 14, 2006

Self-Care Options

This article reinforces my position on the paradox of depression: you aren't going to get better if you can't learn to do it yourself, but depression keeps you from believing that this is possible. Drugs and therapy can be important tools for recovery, but neither of them will succeed without your help, and neither of them should be considered for a lifetime. If you plan for a day when you won't need them you're much more likely to reach that day.

Either of those treatment options may give you the needed push to get to a point where you can do something for yourself, crawl just far enough out of your own personal pit that you can take at least a small amount of responsibility for your own recovery. If they can't get you to that level, and you aren't functional enough to make it there without further help, you should find that help. Never forget that the worst symptom you have is the belief that you are going to stay this way, that nothing you do can change it, that it's pointless to even try. Don't give in to that crap, because if you expect the worst you're rarely disappointed. Do you have anything to lose by trying for more? Can it really get worse than it is? Really?

Some thoughts on the five suggestions given:
  • Keep Active: yep, I've mentioned how important even a little bit of exercise can be. Don't want to get out of bed? Consider having a friend drag you out if necessary.
  • Eat well. A well-balanced eating strategy will help you feel better now and later. Good thought. I've had comments here from depression victims that eat like crap, and it shows in the writing that they're just making things worse. Your body needs good fuel to do a good job.
  • Get adequate sleep. I would modify this to say, "Get appropriate sleep." Insomnia is a symptom of depression, but I was more prone to the fourteen-to-sixteen-hour power nap. I psychiatrist I knew said that the best way to regulate sleep is to get up at the same time, every day, without fail. Your body will take care of the rest.
  • Control stress. Coping with depression is stressful enough, so try to limit other sources of stress. And depression does a marvelous job of amplifying the other stress, doesn't it?
  • Stay connected. Make relationships a priority. Social ties give you a sense of purpose and meaning in life. I can't emphasize this more. You need to be around people, even if you don't feel like it, because even if you believe you're alone in a crowd it is better than being alone alone. Do it even if you don't want to.


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Ginny said...

Thank you so much for this info. It is very confronting but you are dead right in the things you state.

I have suffered from depression since my teens, and the actions that you mention are so hard to make real. For me it is like that I know mentally that I should do those things but my mental state prohibits in a funny way that I don't think of taking action when I need it.

I have been on meds too and it worked for a while but in the end, it is me who has to change my ways, I guess that I choose not to change if I don't take the action.