By Sarah Schuster
In the thick of a depressive episode, it can be hard to remember what it feels like to have a “good day” — one not bogged down by the weight of depression. And when these good days become a faint memory, it’s easy to believe they will never come again.
To remind each other what a good day looks like — and to show that they are achievable, even if they don’t come tomorrow — we asked people in our mental health community who live with depression to share what a good day means to them.
Here’s what they told us:
1. “A good day is when I don’t have to force myself to do simple daily tasks, like shower, eat, get out of bed. I can just do them without thinking about it for hours before.” — Jenna M.
2. “A good day is one when I get up, ready, out of the house, willingly interact with people, and don’t feel like crawling under the nearest rock because of having to do those things.” — Corey F.
3. “I’d say a good day for me is probably just feeling ‘normal.’ Not overwhelmingly happy, not sad or anything, just kind of more happy than usual, but not as happy as others around me.” — Bunny M.
4. “A good day is when you can actually understand that the people in your life care about you and love you. My depression usually prevents me from understanding that, but good days let me feel and know I have people in my corner.” —Kalene P.
5. “A good day would have some peace and quiet… rather than everything blowing up.” — Ray L.
6. “A ‘good day’ means actually being able to get out of bed without feeling like the weight of the world is resting on you. Going through the daily motions and my routine without the feeling of exhaustion, dread and overall sadness. A good day is not necessarily feeling happy but positive about life. A good day means counting my blessings because I know I have many.” — Kristen S.
7. “When I finally feel like putting on my pants, heading outside, walking alone, just staring at the sun, the street, the cars, the people.” — Prajwala J.
8. “A good day is being able to go to my university classes. It’s when I can actually concentrate in class and not feel like I’m going to cry. A good day is when I feel OK enough to do the tiniest things.” — Taylor S.
9. “A good day is when I can wake up earlier for once, and it doesn’t take me so long to get out of bed. I manage to eat three meals in the day. I put effort into how I look instead of grabbing the first thing I see. The constant, overwhelming guilt is a little bit less overwhelming. I can interact with people, go buy groceries and do other tasks involving social interaction without it feeling like too much. Overall, a good day is one I try to remember when I have my bad days. It’s a reminder that I’ve done this before, and I can and will again. It reminds me to not be so hard on myself because in the end I am doing the best I can even if my best is making my bed.” — Brianna B.
10. “A good day is one that anyone else might consider normal.” — Patrick N.
11. “A good day for me is when I’m not as fatigued and have more energy to do daily tasks that others can do so effortlessly. I have much more focus, I interact with others more, talk more and feel overall amazing. I feel more accomplished than I do most other days.” — Bethany B.
12. “Getting out of bed and not going back for the day. Staying productive, shopping, cleaning, errands, making appointments. A whole eight-hour day of that would be amazing! It happens once in a blue moon. Usually I’m just fighting to get out of bed.” — Tammy B.
13. “A good day is when I feel excited for the future instead of scared, when I know and believe I am loved (I always know intellectually that I am loved but may struggle to believe it on bad days), have taken care of my hygiene and medical needs correctly, don’t struggle with negative thoughts and/or lots of crying, am able to present and mindful rather than distracted by anxiety and sadness, and get at least a good chunk of my to-do list for that day finished.” — Jane C.
14. “A good day is when I wake up with no noise in my head, no voice telling me it’s all for nothing. I’m able to roll over, look at my girlfriend and be happy.” — Thaddeus A.
15. “A good day is being able to get up and not feeling like there is a block in my way preventing me from getting things done. Like getting up from the bed, getting out of the house and getting groceries, putting away laundry, just general stuff like being productive. I’m starting to realize how depression is actually affecting such simple aspects in my life. I’m learning to work and roll with it though.” — Andrea K.
16. “A good day for me is when I wake up and actually feel rested, more content and don’t have to force myself to smile. I don’t feel like I have to fake being OK, which is all the time unless I’m having a good day. I do my hair and makeup and wear nicer clothes. Most of all… I get my daily chores done without putting them off for hours on end due to emotional and physical pain because on a good day, I feel like I can do anything.” — Ashley D.
17. “Actually being able to get out of bed, shower, put on some makeup and clothes that aren’t a t-shirt and sweatpants. Answering the phone if someone calls. Saying yes when friends ask to hang out. Getting something done that’s been overdue. Not having that feeling of constant collapsing through out the day.” — Mariah St.
18. “A good day is doing things like cooking, cleaning and basic self-care without it feeling like a huge mountain you’ve just climbed. But also being so proud of yourself for taking a freaking shower! It’s being capable of giving yourself a pat on the back for simple things people do every day but is usually too much for you.” — Heather D.
19. “When I get a break from the feeling of loneliness. When the demons in my head finally stop. When I can actually feel the presence of all that is good in my life. When I don’t feel like everything I say and do is wrong. When I accomplish daily tasks. When I get to smile for real and not have to pretend. Sometimes it’s a month long. Sometimes it’s an hour. But my depression puts into perspective that happiness is fleeting and joy is not always a feeling.” — Kristen G.
20. “A good day is when the easy things feel easy and the difficult things don’t feel like the end of the world. On a good day I feel like I can cope and though I may not be able to take care of everything, I tried to do what I could and I can sleep peacefully knowing I faced the world without falling apart.” — RaQuita D.
21. “It’s a good day when I can do everything everyone else does without crying, feeling like a failure, without panicking over a simple thing…. yesterday was a bad day — didn’t shower, ate junk and sat home all day crying with the curtains closed.” — Julie L.
22. “A good day is when my triggers are present but I have the ability to overcome them. I can get out of bed, go to work, come home and care for myself and my pets and not feel like those simple acts are sucking the life out of me as well.” — Vanessa L.
23. “A good day is when I don’t have any suicidal thoughts at all, or self-harm urges for that matter. It’s a day when I’m energetic, refreshed and actually can feel in my bones that it’s going to be a good day.” — Alicja M.
24. “A ‘good day’ begins without an internal struggle to get out of bed, shower and get ready for work. It begins with coffee made at home and a packed lunch while having time to drive casually to work. It is having interest in the day and my surroundings and the constant need to hide under my blankets loosens its grip on my thoughts. It’s reaching out to friends, speaking up in conversations, sitting with groups of co-workers. A good day feels light, on good days I can breathe. On good days, tears from dark thoughts don’t fall. On good days I feel like I’m living.” — Melia B.