Updated: Oct 6, 2020
right after i left the hospital in mid March i didn't want to get out of my bed. i would sleep constantly. i didn't want to do any work. i hated my life and my body. i was struggling with severe depression. and the worst thing about it was trying to talk to people who never battled depression with it before.
it's natural for the people you love to tell you, "Just go outside Eva! Exercise during the quarantine and get yourself on a great schedule!"
your family and friends don't want to see you suffering. but in reality not being accepting of the suffering or glossing over it actually makes shit a lot worse. i felt really misunderstood. like yeah dude I would do all that positive shit if i could but i can't because i'm fucking depressed. doy.
since getting a therapist i've been so much happier. mentally and physically. i have really good days and really bad days. most of the time i have like a mini emotional episode at least once a day but i'm doing so much better than i was. i actually have things that i'm looking forward to. summer is almost here. i'm spending a lot more time out of bed and hanging with my family. i'm waking up at 11a and not 2p.
so i thought i would share some of my daily tips that i've been using to get through. i definitely don't have all the answers because everyone is a lil bit different. but here are just some general things that have been helping me a lot during this time. i've gotten a few questions about why i talk so much about anxiety/depression so publicly. it's because people don't talk about this shit enough. i wholeheartedly believe that my failure to prioritize my mental health led to the detriment of my physical health. it's all connected and unfortunately in the US we only give a fuck about prescribing you some Vicodin and sending you on your merry way. yep that ACTUALLY happened to me multiple times until they eventually admitted me into the hospital because they realized i wasn't lying about how serious my condition was. even my primary doctor, who i won't be seeing in the future, never cared to look into my condition holistically. i should have been talking to a therapist YEARS ago. my stomach pain is incredibly interlinked with stress, anxiety, depression, my menstrual cycle, and taking good care of myself (sleeping well, eating well, drinking lots of water, etc).
these tips are not the holy grail of curing your depression. i actually low-key hate our constant need to find a definitive cure for things. nothing will cure your depression. but having small, daily ways of dealing with it can be great way of building positive coping mechanisms over the long term–
it's really easy to fall off course when you don't have some system of accountability in place. it doesn't have to be super difficult. this isn't like a Biggest Loser or Hell's Kitchen scenario... make a daily checklist at night for what you want to do the next day. not the month. not the year. one day at a time.
i have a small black journal where i write a checklist– wake up, meds, meditate, get dressed, upload recipe, blog, spend time outside, lunch, dinner, journal, sober, sleep.
it might seem stupid to have "wake up" on your checklist but for me it feels good whenever i wake up to check it off and get out of bed because it feels like even that small thing was an accomplishment. and it fucking is! two months ago i literally would've just stayed in bed all day. i also like to set up reminders on my Google Calendar from my phone if i have a therapy session, FaceTime call, special event, etc. it gives me a reminder 30 mins before the event to mentally prepare for it. in addition to these, i also have an app called Foodility where i track the time i take my meds, my weight, how much water i drink, and what i eat daily. i can even write in a general note if i have an anxiety attack or stomach issues throughout the day. i think this app is super helpful because you can start to identify patterns in your diet & lifestyle. make sure to have realistic expectations for yourself. you don't have to have like "run 30 miles" or "become vegan" on your checklist if you've never worked on those things in the past... set reasonable goals a lil bit every day.
treat yourself how you treat your friends
every time i start thinking really negatively about the shit that i'm doing i think... how would i respond to this if my friend were going through this situation. a lot of the time when you're depressed it can be extremely difficult to look at the situation from another perspective other than from your own. but are there real reasons to be so hard on yourself? would you be this hard on a friend if they were experiencing the same thing? cut yourself some slack. i was going through a really difficult time in March and because of that i thought that i was a super shitty friend for not reaching out to a lot of people. i still am pretty shitty at reaching out to certain people because i get in my head about where to start or what to say. my friends however are so understanding and supportive because they love me. i may not have been a great friend during these times but they cut me a break because they know how much i'm struggling and they love me regardless / know i'm not just being a shitty person but am actually going through stuff. if you slip up or do something you don't like, cut yourself some slack every once in a while. get back on track when you're mentally prepared to. i was living in FILTH at the beginning of the quarantine. it wasn't until school ended that i was able to organize and redecorate my childhood bedroom. i wasn't capable of cleaning until i worked through my schoolwork and my other shit and that's ok. i had to get my other shit together first.
destress a little bit every day
i've been doing guided meditations and they have been making me feel so. much. better. take literally 5 minutes every morning to meditate, focus on your breath, and set intentions for the day. i like guided meditations right now because my brain tends to wander off whenever i do silent but i used to do silent meditations for like 20-30 minutes with my friends back in school and i loved it. just having some time where you are awake but not having to look at a fucking screen or look and see a million things at once is so damn nice. just a little bit every day will go a long way. plus, learning how to destress through meditations can be a great way of handling anxiety attacks. the first time i ever did this was when i had an anxiety attack at a sleep-away camp i used to attend every summer. there was a woman there who was teaching a Journey Dance Masterclass and she actually was in the nurses' office at the same time that i was experiencing the attack. she had me sit cross legged and take deep breaths focusing on releasing tension from the top of my head to the bottom of my toes. it was the first time anyone had ever led me through a meditation and it helped fix my stomachache, headache, and anxiety.
invest in a therapist / medication if you need it
i used to be really anti-medication... especially when it came to meds for depression & anxiety. now that i've been on lexapro for several months i feel so differently about it. i was actually prescribed lexapro not for my diagnosed anxiety/depression but actually for my stomach issues. and it made a huge difference. obviously it's not just the meds i am eating better, drinking more water, and taking a lot better care of myself in general. i still think there are loads problems with big pharma but taking lexapro has helped made me feel a lot better. DON'T GET ME WRONG i am NOT saying that everyone should be taking lexapro. i'm just saying that if you are struggling with depression and have been self-medicating with other things then you should really think about prescribed medications that can specifically target what's going on. along with this includes medical marijuana. if you have extreme depression & anxiety, self-medicating with stuff that you have no idea where it's coming from is probably not the best option. going to a dispensary will actually allow you to know what you are getting and target specific problems that you are having.
the biggest help though was getting my therapist. she has been absolutely incredible and very important in my recovery. just having someone to talk to that isn't your parent or friend is really great in order to heal. i understand that not everyone is able to afford this luxury and it's sad that therapy is even considered a fucking luxury when it should be AS important as having a primary doctor. but that is the sad world we live in. if anyone wants to knows how i got a therapist online please contact me and i can lead you to the direction of their website / provide further info.
don't push yourself. just be open-minded
this is really important. this is what i think to myself every time a friend tells me to just get outta bed and exercise even though i'm struggling with severe depression and i'm just like dude wtf... i will tell myself to not necessarily push myself but maybe just be a little open-minded. i've always hated exercising. like with a passion. if you enjoy running i absolutely envy whatever gene God possessed you with that makes you actually LIKE doing that torturous shit. but even though the thought of exercising seemed like a chore i literally would HATE to do, i really like dancing instead. i would just put on a dance playlist and move around my room. not running. no jumping jacks. literally just rolling on the floor to fun music. i got good exercise AND i didn't have to mentally force myself to "get ready to exercise." don't feel like you have to make a crazy new change to your life to fight your depression. just keep an open mind and do something that fits for you that gives you a similar result.
make lists about what you actually enjoy about life
whenever i'm going through an episode i have a hard time thinking about shit that i actually enjoy. i think about the moment and how shitty i feel right now. i can't think about the past or the future. i can't see the amazing things that will be ahead in life. so having constant little reminders can be really helpful or having a list to refer back to can snap my head out of that mindset in the moment. usually i would be able to talk to a friend about what i'm feeling but during the pandemic it can be super hard to force myself to reach out to someone when i'm dealing with stuff.
on my list i write about–
seeing my cousin River grow up (she turned 5 today btw) & James my baby cousin
the day i get to snuggle with Shannon again
traveling the world
visiting Ito's house one day (my grandpa lives in Chile & i've never seen it before)
seeing my parents grow old
decorating my own apartment
getting an italian greyhound
having a family of my own, etc.
there are going to be so many things that suck throughout life and in the moment it feels like agony to deal with those situations. but think about the things that you can look forward to in the future. all the good things to come.
thank you for reading this if you've gotten here. i don't have all the answers, but it's good to have small little goals to look forward to each and every day. that's what keeps me going in these really fucked up and unsure times. knowing that i have something to look forward to.