Composing Yourself When You'd Really Rather Not
By Kelley Davidson, Graduate Assistant, Bluegrass Writers Studio
One of the most concurrently beautiful and annoying things about having depression and being a writer is that I can put words to all my feelings, man. I’ve got all these feels, and writing (along with regular doses of antidepressants, hanging out with dogs, and lots of chillin’) gives me a way to manage them. However, when I was in the deepest throes of my depression I didn’t write anything for almost a year. It was awful. Consequently, I’ve developed a regimen for battling my self-sabotaging depression funk and I’d like to share it with you just in case any of my readers have a chemical imbalance, too, and need a pick-me-up.
Step 1. First of all, you need to get out of bed. Like right now. Do it. I promise you can do it. If you don’t think you can stand up, just roll off the bed and into the floor. And if the most you can manage after that is to drag your weak body into the shower and do a half-assed job washing your hair, then consider your day a success, go make yourself some wheat toast and blackberries, and skip to Step 5. If you’re ready for a challenge, move on to Step 2.
Step 2. Now that you’re all clean for the first time in a while, you should probably go out in public. I know that sounds terrifying because you’re very hypersensitive right now and you don’t want anyone to look at you, but the truth is that probably no one will look at you. Most people are very self-absorbed. Remember that not everyone is a writer, which means that not everyone is as observant and hyper vigilant as you are about the quirks and idiosyncrasies within human behavior. Now put on some pants and walk to the coffee shop and get yourself a dirty chai or whatever.
Step 3. You made it out the door! You’re walking down the street! This is like a really big moment for you. I’m so proud. Pause to take in the sights and sounds of whatever city it is you’re residing in. This fresh air is really good for you compared to the stale gross air of your bedroom, and your trek to the coffee shop (or the bodega, bar, pool hall, whatever you’re into) is doing well to combat the atrophy that’s eating your muscles away from lying motionless in bed for the past 36 hours. Score.
Step 4. Once you’ve made it inside the café, please try to place your order without crying or scaring anyone with your crippling inability to interact with other humans. I know firsthand that its hard not to cry in public (especially public transit, it is the worst!) because everything is literally awful, but you’re also probably really hungry which is also affecting your emotions. If you start to feel tears welling up in your eyes, just pretend you’re yawning. You’re not totally despondent; you’ve just got the 2pm sleepies! If a fruit cup is a side option then I strongly advise you to get it. Seriously, you need the vitamins.
Step 5. Eat your food. You’re probably sitting in a corner staring at the ground and that is okay. If you didn’t make it past number 1, you might just be sitting in the kitchen floor and that is okay, too! Slowly, remember how much you enjoy eating things that are good for you and how good it feels to be nice to your body instead of punishing it by being grossly sedentary and dehydrated from your endless production of tears.
Step 6. Let your mind wander to your feelings. How are you really feeling right now? Terrible, I know. But look at all the stuff you just did. Everything is a victory. Every time you get out of that miserable bed you’re winning just a little more. Did you see/think anything cool on your walk/during your shower? You should jot that cool stuff down, and you will, because you totally brought a little notebook with you on your epic journey to a fulfilled life. Are you feeling any better? You are? My work here is done.
Stick to this simple regimen (while also getting professional help from a licensed therapist and finding a medication that works for you, especially if you’re having really deep thoughts), kid, and you’ll be aces.
Here are a few resources for you:
Published on March 05, 2015