Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered weak and weary. – Edgar Allan Poe
Can You Plan for Depression?
Can you plan for depression when you know it is on the horizon? I was asked by a fellow blogger to discuss this topic, and I obliged because it is a topic that I often ponder. I know that my worst months are seasonally affected (SAD) and November thru about the end of April I will have severe depression. In the past two years, I have found ways to limit my depression cycles. Depression during the winter times is tough to deal with, and over the years I have come up with plans that coincide with these harsh months.
“Winter is coming.” -Game Thrones (House Stark)
I have come up with some things that everyone can use to plan ahead. In this mental illness life, at least for me, depression is an inevitable thing, does not mean fighting is not an option.
Planning more Appointments with my Therapist
I am a planning type of person and knowing that SAD months are the hardest for me. I make plans with my therapist to see her more frequently in these months. In contrast, in the summer months, I only see my therapist once or twice a month.
Starting in October, my therapist and I map out the appointments for the winter months. What works is to start out with every other week plan on seeing my therapist, and when things are going wrong, and my depression or anxiety start to spiral, we leave certain times of the month open in case I need to come in. Also, I stay in touch with my therapist more during these months so that she knows what is going on. What helps is that I have been with the same therapist since 2014 so she knows when I miss appointments that my depression is starting to take over. The familiarity has helped decrease my wintertime depression.
Taking More Mental Health Days (Planning Ahead)
As a person who plans out everything, it is important to have mental health days planned out ahead of time. The reason behind this idea is that you have to take breaks at some point. The worst thing you can do while not depressed– when you know depression is on the horizon– is to forgo mental health days.
A mental health day is different for each person. For me, it is just reading a good book or binge-watching my favorite shows. Spending a day in bed is okay. Something that uplifts your mood. It might be a good hike, you must find what works for you. I love to also write during this time, and The Bipolar Writer blog helped me a lot last winter.
The other side of this is carefully monitoring the levels of depression you are having that day. There are different ways to track. I use a number system, (1-10) with ten being the worst. My “normal” daily range where I can function is around 2-4, but it really depends on you. I also journal my thoughts daily, so I know where I am in my own mind. Often times taking it easy can help prevent depression, it has worked for me.
Eat, Sleep and Exercise Regularly
The three things you always fail to do when you are depressed are things you can do to prevent depression and depression cycles. Eat well, sleep well, and exercise daily.
I know it can seem impossible to even get out of bed while you are depressed but an excellent way to combat before you get to that point is to eat, sleep, and exercise.
It is more than that when you look at it, the most healthy people in the world do these things regularly, and it seems that they get depression less (just an observation.) That is not to say the healthy fail to have days where they feel depressed. Depression is an unfortunate and unavoidable thing when you have a mental illness, but eating right is an excellent general rule because when you take care of your body, it is easier to focus on your mind.
Exercise is something that experts always say will help because depression does the opposite– it makes you want to not do anything. Again, find what works for you whether it is running, pilates, yoga, meditation or anything that works. The point is if you create good habits before you know your worst depression is on the horizon it could mean less depression.
I could write a whole blog post about why sleep is so important, but you want to get rested sleep all the time. It is my greatest weakness. Sleep has always eluded me, but I am working on this with a sleep doctor in hopes to tackle this before winter comes. Getting a good night sleep, eating right, and exercising is paramount to good mental health and preventing long depression cycles.
Friends, Family, and Doctors
I want to close with this, it is essential to reach out to people you trust when depression first starts to appear. Regular check-ups with doctors or psychiatrists can also help because they can make medication changes if necessary. Above all, it is essential to seek help when you’re depressed.
I hope this blog post helped. I implore anyone who has more to share something that you use when depression is on the horizon.
Always Keep Fighting (AKF)
James Edgar Skye