Whether or not you're suffering from depression, anxiety, or any other chronic illness, sometimes you'll have "one of those days".
For me, "one of those days", means it's hard to get out of bed. It means that brushing my teeth is an accomplishment. It means that even doing the smallest, most menial tasks becomes a battle. It sounds silly right, I mean, surely mixing pancake batter isn't cause for stress? Surely knocking the milk over shouldn't make you cry? Or being unable to shake it hard enough to mix it makes you want to sit down and weep with frustration.
Maybe not. But on "one of those days", that's exactly what happens.
It's been a long time. For a while, I tried denying that what I was living with was going to be lifelong. It's just stress, it's just change, it's just someone else making me unhappy. No, no and no.
I'm happy. I'm a very happy woman, I have a beautiful life, in a beautiful place, so when people ask me - so you must be unhappy then? It's hard to answer. It looks that way, I know, but it's more complicated than that. It's not about being unhappy and in my experience, this has been one of the biggest misconceptions about depression and related disorders.
It's more like you lose the energy you needed to get through the day. The smallest changes in your plans make you irritable. Moods can go from "fine" to "why do I even bother" in a blink of an eye. Sometimes it's just too much. You know how hard it is to live with someone like you, because you do it daily. You have no idea why someone would choose to put themseleves through that. You're thankful for the people who stand by you, who see you're struggling and come to help. Who put a hand on your shoulder, take that pancake mixer out of your hands and shake it for you. The people who don't even need to say "it'll be ok", because being there, they support you in every waking moment - high or low.
So to those people out there who DO support people like me: thank you.
We don't need reassurances. We don't need to know we'll get over it. These are empty words, spoken by people who don't really get us. We just need you, and for you to keep doing what you're doing. You're perfect and you're making a massive difference in someone's life.
What can you do to help someone suffering with a chronic illness like depression?
- If you see us struggling with something, offer a helping hand (this goes for anyone though ;))
- Try not to use words like "I know what you're feeling" or "You'll get over this soon" - because chances are, you really don't know if either of those things are true and even if you do, the liklihood is that they won't help.
- Give time & space freely, sometimes just chilling out for a bit can help.
- Give hugs when needed!
- Let them know you're going to be there for them, and that there's no rush in that respect.
To the people out there who are like me: be kind to yourself.
It took me years to accept this was something I'd manage on a daily basis. Even when I was DOING just THAT. Some days are good, and some aren't so good. Be patient with yourself, try to remember to love yourself whether it's a good day or a bad day. Treat yourself gently and lovingly and accept that what you're doing is the best thing you can be. We're all just doing the best we can.
What can you do to help love yourself?
- Take some time to do something that helps you chill out. Reduce the level of stimulation you're going through.
- Accept that some days are going to be harder than others. It's ok.
- Be kind to yourself when you're having one of these days, it's hard, but knowing there are days like this means you can plan appropriately for them - decide ahead of time what things you need when this happens - do you need to find a quiet place? Do you need to be alone - or with other people? Do you need something to occupy you, or would you prefer to meditate? Planning ahead can help you get through the days when you won't want to plan anything.
- Acknowledge to the people who love you what is happening. Ask them ahead of time for the things you need to feel supported when you're feeling bad.