5 Things I Do To Combat Depression - Life as Mrs. Wilson

18 September, 2017

5 Things I Do To Combat Depression

As many of you know, I've been pretty open about my struggles with clinical depression and anxiety over the years. Since my diagnosis nearly 7 years ago, I've been asked the same two questions time and time again: "How do you seem so happy all the time?" and "How do you work through the depression?"

I'll write more about that first question later, but the thing is, there have been days in my life that are too dark for me to comfortably talk about. I've had to dig deep and fight hard to keep living, and I think one of the main reasons I don't often "look depressed" is because I've learned a few ways to combat my depression when I feel a wave of it coming on.

I know that it can be a difficult topic to touch on in general, and I think it's important to clarify that I wholeheartedly believe that pharmaceuticals are the right answer for many, and there is absolutely no shame in that (I was on medication for nearly 6 years myself). But with that being said, here are the 5 things that I do to combat depression:

1. Take a step back. The most freeing thing I have learned about depression is that there doesn't always have to be a reason for feeling the helplessness and sorrow. I used to let myself feel guilty for being depressed when I didn't think I had a real reason to be sad. When you can take a step out of your body for a moment and ponder whether there is a trigger for what you're feeling or that you're just simply feeling it, there comes a sense of control. Let yourself feel your feelings, and allow yourself to be guilt free of what is out of your control. This leads to number two.

2. Let go of what is out of your control. This definitely ties in with anxiety, but letting go of what I can't control is something that really helps me to get through those bouts of depression. Reminding myself that I can't change my chemical makeup and that what I am in charge of is my reaction has helped me tremendously. Sometimes I've had to write out what's bothering me and list what I can actually control and what I cannot, and that has helped me to better visualize what's really going on and whether I'm reacting to a situation or experiencing depression without an identifiable reason.

3. Do the things that bring you joy - especially when you have no desire to do them. When I'm in the thick of depression, I start getting numb and just don't care - about anything, really. It's such a scary thing to experience, to feel like you have no reason to continue, but if you can catch the depression as it is coming on and literally FORCE yourself to do something you know will bring you joy, it helps so much. If you aren't quite sure what brings you joy, here are a few things that bring me joy: writing, taking pictures, playing volleyball, staging my house, reading, pinterest, handlettering, going for a walk, watching an episode of the office, chasing my son around and making him laugh, facemasks, candles, listening to good music, a podcast, or a church talk. Very simple things that may seem silly to people, but they really do bring me joy. So whatever it is that brings you simple joy - DO IT.

4. Get in a routine. This one was tough for me when I graduated college, because I was SO used to routine that I didn't realize how much I needed it. So, I wrote down what my "ideal day" would look like. And I started adding one thing from the list at a time into my day until it eventually became habit. The more of a routine you are in, the less you'll feel overwhelmed, which will ultimately aid in working through the depression.

5. Pray throughout the day. Whatever prayer looks like for you, whether praying to God or giving yourself some quiet time to meditate, this is what helps me more than anything else. When I am struggling, I turn to God. My belief in Him has been life changing, and I truly feel supported and uplifted. I feel strength beyond my own and attribute my ability to work through depression to this higher power. So again, whether you are meditating, praying to God, implementing a gratitude practice, or all three, do it and do it often.

There are so many more things that I do to combat depression, but these are definitely my top 5. If you are currently struggling with depression, I would encourage you to try and implement these 5 things (or your own version of them) today. And, as always, I hope you know that you are so loved and so not alone in this battle. If you are feeling alone, know that I am always here to listen - no matter what. I promise you that there is a bright future for you, and that you will overcome even your most challenging days. Hold on. Don't give up. There is hope, joy, and peace ahead - and plenty of it.

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