Don’t do anything that you don’t need to.
Trying to perform when you feel depressed only compounds the message that there is something wrong with you. This is because you are trying to do things that, for the moment, are out of your reach. There is no point in competing with others at this time. Conserve your energy and, if you have the luxury of time, take yourself to bed or somewhere safe, and withdraw from the world.
There is no perfect time in the future to begin your recovery from depression; the time is right now. There is no point in obeying the rules of others and carrying on as if you are feeling ‘fine’. Some time ago, when I was asked how I was and I answered ‘fine’, I was told it meant ‘Frightened, Insecure, Neurotic and Emotional’! There is some truth in this because we all say ‘fine’ when we mean ‘I feel like shit and I want to go to bed and hide from the world for a week.’
It is time to be honest with yourself, put yourself first, and give yourself permission to take time out from trying to please others. Drop the responsibilities that do not matter. Those that do matter include caring for children, keeping yourself fed, warm and safe, and working to bring in just enough income to make do. Other than that, there are few responsibilities that you needto take on.
If you are thinking that this suggestion is not for you, then ask yourself this question: ‘Who am I competing against?’ If you are not willing to slow down your workload and minimise your commitments so that you get the rest and recuperation you need to beat depression, then you are faced with a chronic spiral of decreasing energy that will only leave you feeling more helpless and hopeless.
This is the madness of depression; we know we need to slow down and move towards helping ourselves, but we fear that we will never get going again if we stop. We are scared that if we stop being as busy as we are, then our pain will overwhelm us. But remember: your denial will only lift to present you with as much as you can manage at any one time. It is now that you need to employ some of that ‘blind faith’ I mentioned earlier.
We can find a way of getting time to ourselves, even if it means cancelling other priorities and diving under the covers. If you are frightened of coming to a complete stop, then achieve just one thing in your day and celebrate it at the end of each day – even if it is something as simple as making your bed. You will always feel better for it.