Friday, March 6, 2020

When Depression Creeps In...

Although depression looks different for everybody there are a few characteristics that remain the same: exhaustion, depleted energy, poor hygiene, isolation, and limited emotional responses to otherwise uplifting events. For me, exhaustion plays a significant role in having depression. Simple tasks seem like a chore. My body feels like it cannot build enough stamina to do what I want and need to do. I’ve experienced poor hygiene in the past when I was in crisis mode. Like many individuals, when I am not well I shy away from conversation and people. When I should be excited or happy, I am not.

There are varying reasons why people get depressed: loss of a job, grieving, bankruptcy, finances, separation in a serious relationship, genetic predisposition, disappointments and loss, poor weather, etc. Whatever the reason for depression we need to identify signs and continue to try to overcome it before it consumes us. Focus on building your coping skills.

Therefore, when depression creeps in or when an individual sees signs that they are going downhill it is crucial to take action to reduce its impact and severity. Some of my warning signs include but are not limited to having an overfilled trashcan and getting behind on household chores, experiencing drained energy where I do not have enough to cook a meal, and wanting to isolate.

Part of my self-care regimen includes: walking, journaling, and listening to positive messages on YouTube. When I begin to feel off-balance and down I aim to cling to my routine. However, I rejuvenate myself through longer than usual naps. Generally, I take an hour nap, but when I feel that I am struggling I will make time for longer naps and take them more frequently in order to keep up with demands such as caring for my son. In other words, I take longer naps while my son is in school and a shorter nap after he gets home to spend time with him and to do homework.

Still, taking naps and sticking to my routine does not solve all issues. I stock up on frozen dinners, I try to keep the main living areas of the house in okay shape, and encourage myself to keep trying to get through the days. When my walks get cut short and there is not a lot of sun I rely on listening to nature sounds on YouTube at home to feel at ease and connected to nature.

A final resolution for me is to adjust my medication with my doctor and to share concerns with my therapist in order to create more coping strategies. Depression is an invisible beast that places stress on everybody involved. Resting, walking, journaling, and communicating with my treatment team is essential to minimize the severity of depression. Yet, sometimes depression cannot subside.

I value my support system; family, friends, and treatment team for supporting me. My family and friends help me with my son by babysitting him on the weekends. This gives me an opportunity to regroup while my son has quality time outside of the house with others. My treatment team listens to my concerns and helps me create solutions.

I have tried a few antidepressants and mood stabilizers. I understand that due to my bipolar condition and having schizoaffective disorder that doctors must be careful creating my medication regimen, because mixing certain medicines can worsen my illness and trigger other symptoms.

In short, when depression creeps in I encourage us to take naps to produce more energy, try to stick to our routine, get support from others, and reduce the stress of household demands. Also, visit your doctor and therapist more frequently until there is a handle on the depression. Lastly, we are more than our illness, poor moments will pass. Try to focus on a range of coping skills and never give up.

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