i am sick of all those super-mindful articles about how to overcome feeling depressed which all tell you to stress less and maintain healthy sleeping patterns. sure, everyone would love to do that, but there’s this little thing called mental illness that prevents many from doing so. no, saying “don’t stress” to yourself when your heart is racing and your whole skin is covered in sweat will not make the anxiety disappear. of course, 8 hours of sleep each day would be brilliant, but it’s not that easy to influence, right?
unfortunately, a lot of self-help articles repeat those—in my opinion—slightly stupid and not that helpful tips. however, the reality of mental illnesses is much different. of course i’d love to follow all these steps and live a blissful life, but i also want to listen to the same sad song 20 times on repeat and cry on the floor for several hours. and knowing that i am both mentally and physically incapable of fulfilling them makes it even worse, in fact.
and because my own mental health has been quite a shit show lately (which is why this blog has become so quiet), i decided to make my own list of tips that can help me and—if you want—you too with surviving the dark days. it is more of a checklist of what to do to keep up with being a person when you hit the rock bottom. when you’re lower than low, and just the idea of being alive is a bit too much. (or, not just a bit. it’s overwhelmingly, terrifyingly too much, and you have no idea what do with it, and would rather hide under the blankets until it goes away.)
so, here’s my absolutely most important self-help things to do shortlist:
– drink water
– eat at least one proper meal*
– get out of your bed**
– take a shower and wear clean clothes
– take all the meds and vitamins you need
*i know eating tends to be incredibly difficult, and sometimes you feel like throwing up straight after you wake up. by “proper meal”, i mean anything that can fill you up a bit, if it’s hard to imagine yourself eating, try a banana or oatmeal, for instance. or try disguising a lot of good vitamins in a smoothie – it’s a drink! it’s not a meal! it’s easy to swallow! (frankly, banana smoothies were the only thing i could stomach when i was experiencing the worst physical depression of my whole life) also, if the only thing you’re craving are fries or instant noodles or kebabs, just fucking go for it. people often laugh at me for consuming so many instant noodle soups, but hey, i’m eating at least! just get some nourishment into your body in any way you can, deal?
**even if it’s just for morning/evening hygiene rituals and going to the bathroom. that’s still great!
ok, if you manage to go through these 6 things, you are amazing. you are alive and trying. you are clean and taking care of your body. that is just enough.
now, according to how brave you feel, try incorporating these activities to get back on track:
first of all, sort out what really needs to be done: have you replied to important emails and messages? is there any important project you need to finish? (if yes and you’re absolutely incapable of working on it, try splitting the work into small parts, starting with what’s the most urgent) have you washed the dishes or is there a huge, disgusting pile of plates with week-old leftovers? do you have clean clothes or do you need to do laundry? when was the last time you took out trash? do you have food in your fridge? (if you’re unable to go outside, order it online, or get someone to bring it to you. do. not. starve. yourself.)
i know all these tasks are the most difficult in such times, but try get done with them. take your time, plan a reward system, whatever you like. it’ll feel like a little victory when you manage, trust me.
now, make yourself feel good, or at least relatively ok, again:
go for a walk. if you cannot really face being surrounded by people, do it at night/early morning. if you’re physically exhausted or incredibly anxious, just go outside of your house (or perhaps take out the trash) and go back. slowly increase. cook or bake something really nice, or just ok. clean your room. or just the surroundings of your bed. take a long, long bath. do some kind of wellness, like a face mask or peeling or mani or whatever. draw. write a journal. read. watch your favorite movie or TV series. take naps. light candles. sing to your fav songs. pretty much anything that feels soothing to you.
remember to take baby steps. don’t overpush yourself. you and your wellbeing is the most important thing here. it is okay to admit that you cannot do certain things (just yet) because you are not healthy enough. there’s no shame in that.
you are allowed to cry. you are allowed to complain, and hate, and scream. and feel like everything is shit and the future is bleak. but please, do not give up trying.
this article is like a little reminder to myself how to keep on going when it gets tough. i am no specialist, so, if you’re experiencing severe problems with your own mental health, please do not hesitate to search for help. your mental health is not a DIY project.