*This entry is for me to refer to if I ever fall into the abyss of depression again. Obviously, I am not a medical professional, so take from this what you find helpful and leave the rest.
My depression was so bad. Not many people know how bad it was. I shared some of it with a few people, but most of it I kept to myself because thatâ€™s how I am.
I remember being so proud of myself if I managed to get a shower. How desperately hard it was to go into a store and shop for groceries. I would sit outside in my car and try to work up the ability to go inside. I thought about suicide after Iâ€™d been on meds forâ€¦oh, about six months. I remember telling my shrink that the meds werenâ€™t doing it on their own and that I obviously needed to find other ways to get myself out of the depression.
These are the other ways.
1. Exercise. This is hands-down the most important thing I had to do. I kept waiting for the anti-depressants to kick in and give me the motivation to start exercising. They never did, so finally I made myself exercise without the motivation. Funny thing, that. Motivation often follows action; itâ€™s not always the other way around.
2. Eat healthy. There isnâ€™t much that makes me fall into self-loathing faster than eating a boatload of crappy food. Of course self-loathing begets depression, which causes me to self-medicate with unhealthy foods. Itâ€™s a vicious cycle that is nearly impossible for me to stop once I get on it. How can I stop it? See #1, above.
3. Feed my spirit. This is commonly known as â€œtaking care of yourself,â€ but those words donâ€™t do it for me. To me, taking care of yourself means that you get a shower and eat when youâ€™re hungry. Basic maintenance. Feeding my spirit, however, is a whole different ballgame. To me, that means youâ€™re stepping into a realm that makes your heart sing, that creates great joy.
When I first heard this term, it was in Sonia Choquetteâ€™s book Ask Your Guides, and I had NO idea what fed my spirit. It stopped me in my tracks and I had to think about it for quite a while. How sad is that? I now have a list of things that feed my soul, and I make sure to do a few of them every day. Some things are simply a constant in my life now, like having fresh flowers in the house. Hereâ€™s my list for my reference and hopefully to help you come up with some ideas for yourself.
â€¢ Beautiful stones (crystals and agates and such)
â€¢ Good smells
â€¢ Having an orderly home
â€¢ Tea in lovely cups
â€¢ The ocean
â€¢ Alone time
â€¢ The library
â€¢ Traveling to exotic locales
â€¢ Turkey (the country, not the food)
â€¢ Beautiful photos
â€¢ Art museums
â€¢ Watching/feeding the birds
â€¢ Being outdoors
â€¢ Teaching ESL
â€¢ Farmerâ€™s markets
â€¢ Hello Kitty
â€¢ Hanging out at Barnes & Noble
â€¢ Water (as in the tabletop fountain I bought myself)
3a. Helping other people. For me this is something that feeds my soul, so thatâ€™s why Iâ€™m putting it here. However, if itâ€™s not something that comes naturally to you and youâ€™re struggling with depression, I urge you to find a way to help someone out, and not by donating money to a cause. For depression, I believe that hands-on helping is one of the best ways to get yourself out that darkness, even if itâ€™s only for the time that youâ€™re actually helping. But find something, anything, to make a difference to someone. I swear to you that I get more out of teaching ESL than my students do. I LOVE teaching them. I am so happy to have met them and to walk into class and greet all of them.
Of course, teaching ESL isnâ€™t for everyone, but there are a multitude of ways you can help out, from volunteering at animal shelters, to becoming a Big Brother/Big Sister, to volunteering to clean up community gardens. If you are completely clueless as to how you can help, I urge you to pick up a copy of Bill Clintonâ€™s book Giving. It will definitely spark your creativity.