Depression feels like someone came and shoved out your brains. You can’t think; instead you sit in a stupor, head in your hands, shoulders slumped forward. All of the energy has somehow been drained out of your body; your arms are heavy and your chest is heavy. All you can do is sit there and think about how depressed you are. Sick and tired of being sick and tired. Despite being hypomanic the week before last you can’t remember the last time you felt happy. Worst of all, you recall distinctly telling yourself last time this happened that it would never happen again. You would take your meds, exercise, eat right, and use your coping strategies. This wasn’t supposed to happen.
You try to think of your coping strategies, the things that you had discussed with your therapist, but you can’t. You’re too tired to call anyone. You’re too tired to get out of bed; instead you sit and criticize yourself for how terrible you are, what a loser you are.
This is one of the problems with depression; it robs us of our ability to think, to make rational decision. It robs us of our motivation and makes us feel hopeless and helpless. This is a difficult concept for many people who have never experienced depression to understand.
However, there is a strategy that works for many of us. This strategy makes up part of what I call a Wellness Journal. In short, we make decisions ahead of time and write these decisions in a positive journal, so that we can use it as our “brain” when our brain is being sabotaged by the illness called depression.
The strategy that I’m referring to is a Blue List. A Blue List is a list of things to do when we are feeling blue or depressed. It’s very simple. When you aren’t depressed, remember you can’t think well when you are depressed, you make a list of positive activities that you enjoy, and write them in your journal.
My Blue List contains the following:
- Bake Rolls
- Walk to the convenience store and buy a soda
- Play on Pinterest
- Read a book
- Tinker in the garage
- Read my Patriarchal Blessing
- Go running
Last time my family was out of town, I started seeing my warning signs of problems. I found myself slipping into depression. I pulled out my Wellness Journal, turned to the Blue list, and started doing those things that I had written on my list. I’ve learned from this and previous occasions that you can’t always do everything on your Blue List, so it needs to be diverse enough to help you in lots of different situations, but I have also learned that it can be a life saver. Each time I used one of those strategies, I was able to make it through another few hours and eventually days, until the hold of depression loosened its grip.