By Georgette Todd
Somedays I count choosing to get out of bed as a victory over my depression
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There’s a saying that what doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger. Well, what if that’s not true? What if, in spite of suicidal thoughts and depression, you’re still here, just going through the motions of life?
I’ve had one of the worst childhoods on record. Now, even though it’s been almost two decades since I became an adult, the effect of my traumatic childhood still hangs around like an invisible black cloud over my daily life. I’ve been to therapy, took medication for a while, forced myself to not be a social hermit, and I exercise regularly. If there’s a list of things to do to keep depression at bay, I’ve checked it. Yet, I’ve found five odd ways that really contribute to my well-being that could work for you if you’re struggling to cope with life.
Start small and congratulate yourself while you’re at it
It sounds ridiculous, but I set my alarm clock to the sound of applause. That’s right, I congratulate myself every time I get out of bed in the morning because there have been times when this act alone was a major struggle. Most of us feel like we have no choice but to get up every day due to responsibilities, but you actually do have a choice. You could choose to lie in bed until all your bills pile up, the lights go out and you’re kicked out on the streets. So, the very fact that you get up in the morning and face the world when you really, really don’t feel like it is a small accomplishment, or a major one if you’re depressed. This personal acknowledgement of performing basic tasks to function may not seem like much, but it is if you’re tired of life. So, start secretly patting yourself on the back for doing the bare minimum because with your current state of mind, you’re moving mountains of darkness baby!
Start taking inventory
Because the gray matter that is my brain is not hot pink with sprinkles, I have to end each evening writing a list of things I’m grateful for, because if I relied on the voices in my Debbie Downer head, I won’t remember. Start writing down what’s good in your life, even if it’s the fact you have eyesight in a world where there are blind people in it.
Argue with yourself
Whenever that inner critic starts mouthing off, I now stop and address it head on. I challenge that inner voice to give me recommendations on how to improve myself by saying something like, “OK me, if I suck so badly, give me tips on how to not suck. What specific steps do you have to offer so that I can stop sucking so much? Oh, and speak slowly…remember, I suck.” Now, every time I do this, guess what? That voice just continues to criticize, which then makes me curse my inner critic out for being so useless. So, the next time you hear how fat, awful, and poor you are, challenge that inner voice to come up with a specific solution. You’ll find that after doing this for awhile, that inner critic loses its importance and impact on you.
Stop comparing yourself to others unless you’re going to use that comparison as an inspirational starting point to improve your current situation. If you know someone who has a better job, car, body, home, well who cares!?! What does that have to do with you? How is their greatness going to contribute to your life?
Always look forward to something
Start filling up your calendar with things you actually enjoy and remember that everything is like exercise. The idea of it is beyond exhausting, but once you’re there and in it, you’ll feel better in the course of activity and afterwards you’ll have a little glow.