Todays post is a guest post by Aisling O’Connor:
When depression creeps in, it’s easy to find yourself withdrawing from your routine and the things you love. When even showering feels like it’s too much effort, everything else will too. These are the things I’ve noticed that I withdraw from but feel so much better when I make myself do them.
I really enjoy cooking and baking and experimenting with ideas. When I feel down, cooking seems like way to much effort, especially if there’s instant or fast food on hand. I’m aware that not everyone is actually physical able to cook or able to afford raw ingredients so I’m not bashing fast food or microwave meals, for some it’s a necessity. However, for me, not only does cooking relax me but I can also make sure I’m getting the right nutrients. My mood is very sensitive to what I eat, and I wake up feeling sluggish and low if I didn’t eat well the day before. I try to eat mood boosting foods like avocados, bananas, and dark chocolate as much as possible, but of course, life is too short not to treat yourself!
When I spent less time in the kitchen, people immediately notice that something is up because I ordinarily enjoy it.
For a lot of people music is a life saver. I noticed the last time I was in a rough patch, that I wasn’t even listening to music at all. My favourite musicians have brought me so much hope and strength over the years so something is really wrong when I won’t listen to anything anymore. Even if I don’t have the energy to pick up my guitar, I need to remind myself how much better listening to my favourite albums makes me feel.
Famous Last Words by My Chemical Romance especially makes me feel better. The ironically bleak titled song has lyrics such as “I am not afraid to keep on living, I am not afraid to walk this world alone.”
I’m quite an active person, so like if I’m not going to the gym on a somewhat regular basis it sets off a red flag for those around me. Although exercise doesn’t cure poor mental health, it had one of the biggest improvements on mine. Even doing little workouts in my room a few days a week is enough to make me feel more like myself again. I knew things were really bad, when I got to the gym and end up sitting in a bathroom stall for over an hour unable to make myself actually go in.
I’m not the most organised person but when I let myself stop showering as often as I should be, and start leaving my room get messy, myself and my space look as bad as I feel. Depression makes you feel like these things are pointless, because you’re going to have to clean yourself and everything else again in a few days anyway but making yourself do these things helps clear your head.
I had never gone more than a few months without having a dog since I was 7 so for the first time not having one for a year and a half, my life had a big hole in it. Our last dog was my best friend for 9 years and I had a strong bond with him, so of course I was devastated when he passed away. Sometimes he would notice I was upset and try comfort me, and often was my only friend. What I didn’t expect when he passed was that even just having him around had kept my mood stable, even just seeing him sitting in his bed when I came home was important.
None of these things are going eradicate depression or poor mental health, but in my experience these things, along with talking, make it manageable.