8 Simple ways to Battle Depression; You are Never Alone
My Depression Story
I never really understood depression until I became a mother.
I had always heard about baby blues, but never thought that was going to be me. How could I not be excited about bringing a little human into the world? Nightly feedings? No biggie, I’ll be ready to jump out of bed and rock her to sleep at 2:00 am. No sleep? No problem, I’ve pulled many all-nighters in college. I thought I was totally prepared to become a mother. My whole life had led up to this moment, and it was only going to get better from here.
After having my baby girl, my first thought was “holy crap, what am I doing?”. I did not have a wonderful “wow” moment, and I didn’t feel an overwhelming love for her. I felt pain, terror, and anxiety.
We brought her home from the hospital and I had all the typical first mom struggles: learning how to breastfeed, not getting any sleep, still in pain from the birth, not being able to poop, and so many raging hormones and crying!
Everyone told me the first 2 weeks were the hardest, so I tried to remind myself of that each time I felt overwhelmed. I thought “2 weeks isn’t that long, I can suck it up til then, and things will start to get better”.
Things did not seem to get better. I hated breastfeeding. My little girl cried all the time; we think she was colicky. I hated being alone all day, and I felt anxious and sad all the time. The things that used to make me happy, didn’t. The future seemed hopeless. I had no appetite. I didn’t want to be around my baby. I couldn’t bond with her. I thought I loved her, but wasn’t sure because of the way I felt around her. I would have to put her down on occasion and walk away because I was afraid of hurting her.
I realized later that I was depressed; I had gotten the baby blues.
I denied it for a long time because I felt guilty. I felt like it was somehow my fault for feeling this way. I thought I had control of my feelings; I can just make this go away. I thought “I have felt bouts of sadness in my life, this isn’t any different.” I thought I could just snap out of it. After all, some people can’t even have kids who desperately want to be mothers, and here I was feeling sorry for myself. I felt that if I just had enough faith; God would just take this away from me.
I was wrong, and I needed help.
I wish I would have seen someone sooner, but I didn’t start going to a therapist and psychiatrist regularly until my little girl was almost a year. It changed my life.
I got on medication and I learned ways to cope with my depression. I continued to pray and asked God for strength. It wasn’t easy, in fact, things were still really really hard, but I found ways to cope and improve and could feel God lifting me up. I felt like I started feeling like myself again when my little girl was almost 3.
I got the baby blues again after having my second child, but I was more aware and educated on what it is and how to deal with it, and I got on medication right after he was born.
Depression is still a struggle in my life, but I’m learning to not have it define who I am. I make sure to give myself the proper treatment, so I can be the best mom for my kids.
Depression comes in all ways, maybe you’ve dealt with it your whole life, maybe for you it started after losing a loved one, or going through a traumatic experience. If depression is something you struggle with, know that you aren’t alone, and that you can fight it.
There are several different ways I manage my depression. I stopped taking medication almost a year ago (this is not the answer for everyone), so today I rely on the other strategies I’ve learned to help me stay out of the depression cycle. (If you feel like Medication can be an option for you, talk to your doctor). These combined with the medication and therapy help me kick depression’s butt:
8 Simple Ways to Battle Depression
I always open the windows as soon as I get up. There is just something about natural light that brightens my day. (pun intended) If you don’t have a lot of natural light, add more lights in your house. Buy lamps, or switch out the light bulbs for brighter ones. Light can make all the difference.
The right amount of Sleep.
I don’t over sleep. If I’m staying in bed, I get more depressed as the day goes on. I try to get up at the same time every day, no matter how much it sucks. And I’m NOT a morning person. Set an alarm, ask your husband or someone to wake you up. Just get up and start the day. Start by making a morning routine that you do every morning. Don’t just wing it.
Plan your day.
If you like having an hourly schedule, make time the day before to write down an hour by hour plan. If you are more go with the flow, write down 3 things you plan to do. For example, in the morning we’ll go to the store, after lunch we’ll watch a movie, and before dinner we’ll head to the park. Just a basic plan because we all know winging it never works. Also, plan at least 1 thing to do outside the house everyday. For some this would be going to work, for others it’s taking your kids to the library or store. I used to be a full-time SAHM, but right now I work 4 days a week. On my 3 day weekends, I always have something planned so I’m not cooped up all day.
Get Ready for the day.
I try to only let myself stay in my pajamas once a week, and make myself do my hair and/or makeup 3 times a week. It’s easier now that I’m working, to get ready for the day, but when I was at home, it was hard to get ready when I thought I might be home all day. Why do I need to get dressed? No one will see me. You might not see another adult, but you will feel better about yourself if you get ready. Plus, hopefully you have at least one outing planed for the day. Just get ready, even if that means just taking a shower.
Try to exercise 3-4 times a week. Exercise can take my mood from sucky to happy in under an hour. It’s a great tool to up your mood. You feel empowered and you release hormones that help regulate your HAPPY mood. Try to make it part of your everyday routine.
I don’t know about you, but if I’m eating crappy, I feel crappy! And such is the circle of life. Try a healthier diet! Increase more of the healthier things and take out more of the bad. You’d be surprised how much of a difference it can make. Try doing a little challenge like taking out sugar, or counting calories for a week.
Know your triggers.
Know what triggers your depression and then avoid those things. Keep a journal if you have to to see the patterns of when you get depressed. If I watch a depressing movie, It can make me depressed for 3 days, so I avoid depressing movies. It’s the little things that can make all the difference.
I pray for help everyday.
I pray for help to stay positive and happy, and I definitely feel a difference if I don’t pray. He is always there to help. Prayer is a powerful tool, so use it! Start by saying a prayer each morning and/or night. Say a prayer during your most down times during the day.
What are some strategies you use to kick depression?
Do you also struggle with Anxiety? Me Too! Depression and Anxiety usually go hand and hand.