Lately, I’ve realized that thinking of depression like a incurable terminal disease, ultimately doesn’t help me in the slightest. Something that has helped, has been thinking of it like having a lot of weight to lose. It’s a rather fitting comparison, because in some ways I feel like depression is like a literal weight that is pulling us down mentally, and it is no more or less literal than weight we have on our bodies. Deciding to approach my depression like weight loss has flicked a sort of switch in my head that makes me realize, much like having 100 pounds to shed, “This is going to be a long haul I have to dedicate myself to,” and “It is not going to be an easy thing, because the weight is going to want to stay plastered to my body unless I do a rather significant overhaul to my way of life.” Five ways I approach my recovery like losing weight are listed below, and I’d love you to share other ways I may have missed in the comments!
1. I Recognize Recovery Is A Process, Not A Quick Fix
If you were trying to lose fifty pounds, you wouldn’t try to lose all fifty in a day. Sometimes I try to think of my depression, when it’s severe, like having a ton of extra weight hanging off my bones that is going to take a lot of time to get rid of. In the beginning of recovery, when you finally manage to muster the immense amount of motivation required to successfully accomplish something during the day, your small success can feel insignificant in the shadows of people telling you to return to your former self instantaneously. Allowing recovery to be a process, and not expecting a quick fix, helps a lot.
2. I Move My Body
Notice how I said “move your body,” not “run five miles.” If you’re depressed, even getting out of bed is a struggle. So, instead of trying to get yourself to run a mile today or even a short jog, see if you can get yourself to walk to the nearest cafe with a book and get a delicious coffee to drink while reading a chapter for a half hour or so. Maybe, after the change of scenery and short stroll home, you’ll find your mood has improved. Not fixed, but improved. Remember, we’re going for baby steps here!
3. I Nourish Myself
Healthy and nourishing foods that provide more than emotional numbing actually help in other ways besides giving you much-needed vitamins and minerals. Specific food groups can boost mood and energy levels, such as Omega-3 fatty acids in fish, and iron in dark leafy greens. Beyond that, taking a little piece of control back from depression and into your arsenal by deciding, “I’m in control now, and I’m going to make myself feel good with delicious healthy food,” can give you something positive to latch onto in a world that seems devoid of positivity. Being inspired by health is a good start, and will provide a sense of accomplishment.
4. I Stick To A Routine
Feeling lost in a world in which there is no structure and no plans for the future, makes it even more hard to feel positive and optimistic while having a disease which is known for making constructing a future that feels desirable almost impossible. Providing yourself with a regular appointment (for example a coffee date with a friend at 4 PM on Tuesdays), can allow you not to be entirely reliant on your own internal stores of motivation. For me, relying on my own desire to get up and out of bed isn’t enough, it’s better to have the added incentive of not missing a set-date.
5. I Try To Practice Self-Love
Weight-loss isn’t sustainable if you’re coming at it from a crash dieting angle of self hatred, and depression is the same way. Every time I’ve managed to pull myself up out of a depressive episode, it was due to a tiny bit self love I managed to scrounge out of my mind. Self love began as a small voice, barely audible above the fog of depression, just softly reminding me that the decision to even try to slowly climb out of the hole is a hugely brave thing to do. It can quietly remind you that this is a ferocious beast you’re fighting, not just a small mouse, and it won’t be smooth sailing. However, it will be worth it.