Updates On Remodeling Life For Chronic Illness

Where have I been? Well, certainly not on beautiful Italian mountaintops where this picture was taken (although at one point I was). It just seemed like a nice blog post picture. And it was one of the first to pop up when I was going through my pictures to make this. And I like looking like I actually have a life.

For a short while, I was keeping my blog updated. I purchased a domain, thinking perhaps I could transform what was once a place to dump ideas that I liked every few months into a Blog. Like, a Blogger Blog. With readers and money and everything. But, as suddenly as my ability to write had returned, it disappeared again. It was like my brain was on a permanent fog delay. It still is, much of the time.

Sitting at my laptop to write simply began to hurt too much — as did reading, playing instruments, and many other things. At this point, after several years of testing for Lyme and other possible sources of the pain, fatigue, and other symptoms, the only fixed diagnosis I had received was Fibromyalgia (diagnosed rather quickly and dismissively by a rheumatologist, who then offered no guidance other than to tell me to look it up on the internet). So I saw a chiropractor regularly, tried massage therapy, and new pain meds every few months, and just… waited. When my neck pain gets really bad, it radiates into my forehead and my entire skull aches as if someone has shot an invisible arrow through it. This was my norm for a while.

Every week I would go to my chiropractor, and every week my neck seemed to be getting harder and harder to adjust. I got the feeling he was starting to give up, and I don’t blame him — In his words, it was “like trying to adjust a plank of wood.” Tired of going home with my neck and head still hurting and only being told to use heat and ice to treat it, I asked if there was anything else I could do for the pain. An MRI was ordered.

Initially, I had a conflict and couldn’t make the appointment, but after that I just kept rescheduling it. I was tired of doing test after test just for them to come back normal when clearly something was wrong.

The doctor handling my medications smiled knowingly when I told him about the MRI. “You won’t find anything on that,” he said confidently and dismissively. I had two thoughts in response to this: 1.) You’re a psychologist. You don’t have enough information to tell me that. 2.) Maybe he’s right. Maybe it’ll just be another waste of time and money. Maybe I shouldn’t go through with it.

Luckily, my therapist and I decided my first thought was more logical. And, luckily, I’m extremely contrary and his comment had pissed me off just enough to go through with it, if only to prove him wrong if something was there.

And something was.

That MRI led to my first not-invisible diagnosis in a long time: Klippel Feil Syndrome. Basically, two of the vertebrae in my neck are fused and my neck is much straighter than it’s supposed to be and it’s real painful. I was extremely happy to finally have a problem I could see. A test that didn’t come back normal, that didn’t leave doctors to come up with a cause based on information that wasn’t there.

This time, someone could point to the scans and clearly, without a doubt, tell me what and where the problem was. Also, I got the satisfaction of reporting the significant results to my dismissive doctor.

With Klippel Feil, which is a congenital condition, you are not supposed to do contact sports, or anything where you could hit or jar your spine and neck — i.e., everything I did as a child. My mom, looking back on my years of horseback riding falls and doing tricks with friends on the trampoline, was now very concerned there might be neurological damage and very glad I was still alive. No one in my town knew what to do with this relatively rare diagnosis, so off to Johns Hopkins I went to see a specialist.

As of now, I’ve only had one appointment there. Though I don’t know much more about my condition at this point, I’m giving Hopkins a paragraph just because it turned out to be the first time in a long time that I did not come out of a medical office crying and extremely depressed. The people at Hopkins seemed genuinely happy to see their patients and assess their problems. There were tons of people ready to help you at every turn, and they did so without any awkward and uncomfortable jokes. There was also hand sanitizer everywhere, which is awesome if you have germ-related OCD like I do. But most importantly, I was not sent out with whatever diagnosis would let the doctor off earliest and with the least work, and I felt respected and believed.

In the time I haven’t been in doctor’s offices, I’ve been mostly… sitting. I feel incredibly spacey and detached most of the time, and my energy, both physical and mental, has been primarily nonexistent.

You know the alert that pops up on your phone when you hit 20% and asks if you want to switch to low power mode? Well, 20% has been my maximum for a while now, and it constantly feels like I’m on low power mode. And the alert you get when you hit 10% just telling you to plug your phone in or it’s gonna die? I’ve been at that level a lot, too.

For me, the phone alerts analogy translates in real life to blurry vision, shaky hands and legs, worse motor skills, and slower reaction time, all indicators that I’m about to hit 0% and should get home asap. “Charging” pretty much involves lying down until my muscles don’t feel like rocks anymore and my brain doesn’t feel full of cotton.

So yeah, it’s been an empty, boring stretch of waiting to feel better again. But no one knows when, or if, that will be, and a quiet day in watching movies lost its charm months ago when it became the norm instead of a treat. So, instead of waiting for myself to be able to re-adapt to normal life, I’ve been working on redefining normal life for myself. (And not being super sad about it — cause lately, I haven’t been handling this “I have a chronic illness and can’t do anything I used to do” thing as well as I had been.) There are still useful things I can do from the couch if I work it right.

I bought an iPad, because my old MacBook Pro was heavy and overheated a lot, requiring an additional fan that made it even heavier, and it was starting to seriously hurt to use. I’d been wondering if the mobility and lightness of a tablet could be the replacement I needed, and so far it seems to be working well. As I write this, I have the screen propped up on a table in front of me and a Bluetooth keyboard on a pillow in my lap. There’s no weight, and I can adjust each thing individually. So step one, Replacing My Laptop With Something I Can Actually Use, is complete.

Believe it or not, just holding up a book has started to hurt, too — a problem that’s also solved with the iPad. I think I like it better than a Kindle, because it’s more the size of an open book, and has cute page flip animations that makes it feel even closer to a real book. I also have Irlen syndrome, so I use color overlays to read. Constantly moving them from page to page was annoying, and trying to keep them flat against the curved page hurt, so being able to prop up the tablet and overlay and leave it there is incredibly helpful.

Another thing I’ve been doing is making video health logs, because for a while I was literally too tired to write. They’re handy because while I may not always have a notebook on me, my phone’s usually there in my bag or pocket when something comes up that I want to log (e.g. sudden shakiness, an anxiety attack).

Other than that, I’ve mostly been reading, watching movies, and playing Hogwarts Mystery — the last of which being way more fun to talk about than illness, so tell me what you think of it, what house you’re in, and how far you are in the game!

I found the Canva app and realized I could make nice blog headers really quickly, so that’s honestly the only motivation I had to write this post, and even that fluctuated. With any luck, I’ll accidentally make a graphic I like and want to write a post to go with it again sometime soon.

5 Quotes + Tips That Get Me Through Bad Days

 I am the one thing in life I can control.

— Hamilton (Musical)

The following line is equally good — “I am inimitable / I am an original” — but this is the one I find most helpful. You will never be able to control other people’s actions. You will never be able to control what people think about you.  There is only one thing in this world that you have complete control over, and that is you. Your thoughts, your actions, what you put into this world, that’s all you need to worry about. Life gets quite a bit lighter when you accept and let go of the things you can’t control.

Motion creates emotion.

— Tony Robbins

Usually, if you have depression or something similar, everyone tells you to “go outside, get exercise!” with the goal in mind being to rid you of your gloomy depressive haze and make you happy. This quote, however, suggests motion as a means of creating emotion. Any emotion. Because whether we’re angry or happy or anything else, emotion is what gives us the drive to do things. And, often, if you’ve just been lying in bed all day, you don’t currently have a huge breadth of emotions.

The motion doesn’t have to be big, anything to give you a slight change of scene or viewpoint. Depending on the day, it can just be getting out of bed. Judge for yourself what you’re up for. I recommend putting on music you can’t not dance to (which is early 2010s pop for me. Happy nostalgia can be very helpful nostalgia!), but other, less exerting suggestions include: reading a book, taking a walk, sitting outside, calling a friend, texting a friend dumb memes that you know will make you both laugh, and putting on a new outfit and showering if you haven’t already.

Have courage and be kind.

— Cinderella (2015)

This quote has honestly become my life mantra. As long as I have it, I can get through anything, because if my only goal is to be as kind as I can no matter what (disclaimer within reason obviously blah blah blah if someone is stabbing you you don’t need to be nice to them), I no longer have anything to worry about.

Having a goal that’s aimed outwards — trying to make other people feel better rather than trying to make yourself feel better — can take a lot of pressure off, and be really helpful in getting you outside of yourself for a little. When I had auditions and rehearsals that I was really nervous about, my therapist suggested thinking about the nerves of the other people auditioning and rehearsing instead of my own. When we decided that my goal would be to make the people around me feel more comfortable and not worry so much about myself, although I was still scared, it didn’t seem to matter as much anymore. Trying to hide or calm anxiety is an extremely difficult and scary task; complimenting someone is not. So that was my lens: find the good in other people and bring it to their attention. Many times, approaching people in order to give them a compliment was still scary for me, but a smile often suffices when words can’t quite make it out. A quick, genuine smile at someone who looks scared lets them know that you’re on their side, and can go quite a long way.

Living by this quote is also helpful in taking down the stress of arguments and other unpleasant situations. If I feel that someone has been rude to me, but I can recount everything I did as being only kind, I can at least be confident that I did nothing to provoke it. And, referring back to quote one, that means that I can let go of it without worrying about it!

When a flower doesn’t bloom you fix the environment in which it grows, not the flower.

— Alexander den Heijer

Pretty self-explanatory! ♡

Imma keep running ’cause a winner don’t quit on themselves.

— Beyoncé, “Freedom”

And finally, Queen Bey. This lyric changed how I thought about myself, and about healing myself. I have the potential to do incredible things, to have so many new experiences that change and shape who I am. When I quit on myself, I quit on that future me that would have been. I quit on everything I would have done, and everyone who would have been effected by future me’s existence.

My existence is to be prized and valued, but prizes don’t come without hard work, dedication, and courage. So Imma keep running ’cause a winner don’t quit on themselves. 

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Photo by hannah grace on Unsplash

 

Help, I’ve Relapsed And I Can’t Get Up!

I had an anxiety attack last night.  A big, long anxiety attack that arrived the moment I thought someone was upset with me, and stayed long after they apologized, everything was talked over, and it was all resolved.  It’s still hanging on a bit this morning, actually, like a sloth that’s latched its claws around my shoulders and is only now making its way, ever so slowly, back down.  The only difference is that I would absolutely love to have a real sloth around my shoulders.

One of the most terrifying moments in the world (okay, exaggeration) is when you run out of tissues, but you’re still crying uncontrollably.  Thus was the case last night.  As the box grew closer and closer to empty, with each tissue I told myself, “No more tears.  One more tissue, be sad and get it out, and then no more tears.”  But my tears ignored me.  They ignored me for hours, and they went on ignoring me all the way into this morning.

I have always been quick to panic or cry, most often both, in certain situations.  But a few months ago, calming myself back down was amongst my semi-mastered set of skills.  Last night it was not, and it left me severely disappointed and scared.  Did I somehow just lose over a year of work with my therapist? How hard would it be to get it back?  These were not questions my panicked brain felt equipped to handle, but it would be a week until I saw my therapist again, and so it worked to try and at least patch a band-aid on until I saw her.

Healing is not linear.  I know that.  But, man, some of the drops hurt.  You don’t just roll down a nice, soft hill of daisies, brush yourself off, and then start walking back up.  Sometimes you walk straight off a cliff you didn’t know was there and fall on your face.  I knew there would be drops, but no one said that the drops would be like running around a canyon trying to find a way back out, while also trying to fix the broken nose you got when you landed here.

Right now I’m still in that canyon.  I haven’t found a way back up.  But I also know that a canyon is not the worst place to be stuck in.  I know that, eventually, I’ll find some rocks that look climbable, or I’ll bump into an actual rock climber who can shout out directions to me as I clamber up, or someone will throw me a rope.  I know that there are lots of ways out, and I know that just because I can’t see them now doesn’t mean that I never will.

I know that one day, I will be the rock climber, or the one standing at the top of the canyon casting a rope down for someone else.  I will know this canyon inside out, from the steepest drop off, to the one spot you could climb up even if you’d broken your leg on the way down.

And I will never leave this canyon.  Because once I’m out, I will always come back to make sure you are, too.

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Photo by William Stitt on Unsplash

When Driving in Fog — Poem

I can feel it
seeping in through my ears,
swirling around my mind, threatening
to coat my eyes.

“When driving in fog, do not turn on high beams.”

But the lever is right there;
light is right there!

“They will only reflect off the fog and make it harder to see.
Stay on low beams and drive slowly.”

Click, lever on.
Click, lever off.
Debate whether to switch lever on again.

“If fog gets too bad, pull over and wait for it to pass.”

But while I wait for it to pass
I will watch the world around me
pass as well!

 

But
I will watch

And maybe, for now,
that is enough.

 


 

Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

You Are Someone’s Light

This is sort of an extension or offshoot of my previous post (actually, the last line of this was the inspiration for my previous post, but I’d saved it as a note on my phone a few days prior to writing the real thing and completely forgot to put it back in).

So yeah, maybe read that post, and then pretend it flows nicely into this one? Or don’t, I mean, whichever, it’s your choice…

ANYWAY, as a writer, and as someone who ha(d/s) depression, it was extremely difficult to go through a period of time where I felt like I could write about nothing but depression. What kind of writer was I if I could only write about one thing? If I had no ideas anymore, and could only write descriptions of whatever I was feeling at the time?

Not the kind I used to be, not the kind I wanted to be, and not the kind I would be in the future. But that didn’t mean that what I was writing then wasn’t just as important as any of the writing I would do before or after.

When you feel really really bad, your writing reflects that, so you think, “What’s the point of putting this out anywhere?” You don’t want to be the one spreading negativity and making other people feel just as bad as you do.

But I’ve learned that, most of the time, that’s not actually what happens. When I first wrote and published something related to depression, I was surprised to find that people were actually thanking me for writing it. I had been able to capture in words something they couldn’t. I have, many times, been in the opposite position of searching and searching for something to describe what I was feeling in a way that I couldn’t, but I hadn’t considered that I could also be the source of one of those things.

But anyone can be. You can be. Out of all the people in the world, there is always someone else going through what you are, who will breathe a sigh of relief and say “thank you” upon finding your words. And for every person who is going through what you are, there is someone who isn’t, who will be grateful to finally understand what a friend or family member is going through because of you.

You cannot write for everyone. Some people will scroll past your work unfazed. But for some, it will be what finally takes just a bit of the crushing weight off their shoulders. And I have found that writing for those people — even if it it’s just a few, or even just one — is enough.

I have learned that even in your darkest moments, you can be someone else’s light.

Depression, Four Years Later ♡ A Message Of Hope

This is probably the most blog-like blog I’ve ever written.  It’s not an essay, it’s not an opinion piece, it’s not a poem, it’s just an update on my life.  And a promise for yours.

Four years ago, when I was 15, I was hit with the worst wave of depression I’ve ever had.  It became extremely difficult to put together simple sentences.  When people would call me by my name, I became legitimately confused, because nothing felt real.  I didn’t feel real.  It took my entire identity, my sense of being.

All my life, I have wanted to be a writer.  Before I could write, I would tell stories to my dolls, and when I learned to write, I wrote all the time.  Being a writer was my identity.  It was, literally, what I lived for.

2014 was the last time I can remember being able to easily write a story.  After then, all I would have was fragments of ideas and forced writing, and I never wrote more than a few paragraphs at a time.

Depression strips you of your personality.  It takes everything that makes you you, and leaves only itself.  After a while, depression becomes your identity because you have nothing else.  You become afraid to get better because then you think, “what will be left?”  It plays games with your head.

Because it was so difficult to describe things then, and being in the depths of depression leaves you in no mood to, I googled “depression” and sent everything that applied to me to my mom.  (I highly recommend doing this! For anything! If there is something you want help for, but can’t talk about, make use of other people’s words!)

But my mom was worried about going on medication, and I was scared of going to therapy, so for a little while things stayed pretty much the same.  My depression was partially seasonal, so there were times in the year when it wasn’t a problem.  But something that was a problem year round was my anxiety and OCD.  A major problem.  So, between things, a while later, I finally went on medication.

I was started at the lowest dose, and very very slowly edged up, after each 20 milligram increase being told the familiar “check back in a month.”  I was very lucky that the first medication I tried worked for me, so from the beginning I was hopeful.  Later, when I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia, too (yay! even more brain fog, tiredness, and lots and lots of pain!), I would try one that would devoid me of all my energy, and one that made me suicidal.  If those end up being one of your first medications, or any of your medications,  1.) Call your doctor so you can go back off it as soon as possible, and  2.) Don’t think about it too much.  It doesn’t mean you won’t get better, it’s just one option scratched off your list; one step closer to finding something works.  Watch fun movies and treat yourself until you’re able to go on something else.

The medication that did work for me began to lower my anxiety and OCD, and some of the fog in my mind was lifted, leaving space for occasional clear thoughts again.  I had also pushed myself (with the help of my mom) to go to therapy, which was absolutely intrinsic in the process.  If you’re someone who wonders (like I did), “What can I learn from therapy that I can’t learn by myself?” go to therapy.  You will learn so much more than you would have on your own.

You can read books and articles and practice the techniques you find in them, but the books will never talk back to you.  I didn’t realize just how important that aspect was.  Beyond important, it is vital.  A (good) therapist is all the books on your reading list combined, plus years of training and experience in helping people recover.  And another mind; a mind clear of everything you came to them because of.  A mind — a trained mind whose job it is to figure out how to deal with whatever you bring to them — that is focused on you.

With the step up medication gave me, I was able to work with my therapist and begin making progress.  I got to points I never thought I would.  My therapist helped because my medication helped, and my medication helped because my therapist helped.  I went in wanting to pick just one (medication), but that’s not how it works.  They work off each other.  And together, they brought part of me back.

Over the course of time, I had gotten used to the odd feeling of trying to maintain my identity without many of the things that made me me.  I almost considered myself “on hold,” like my imagination and focus and everything were all on vacation, and one day they would be back, but right now I shouldn’t worry too much about them.  But to see them finally coming home was the best feeling ever.

When it seemed clear I was getting all the benefit I could out of the first medication, I began trying additional ones to continue trying to bring the rest of me back.  And, as said before, some worked and some didn’t.  But the one that worked brought back the most painful thing depression and anxiety, and all the fog and noise they put in your mind, had taken from me.  My imagination.

I am writing again.  I am thinking again.  Getting lost in my thoughts again.  Writing stories, watching stories play out in my mind, building on ideas again because I now have the mental stamina to.  I kind of want to go around screaming in everyone’s faces “I’M WRITING STORIES AGAIN!” because this is absolutely huge to me.  I haven’t written — like, actually written, not forced myself to put words on a page — in almost four years.  The part of me that drove me to exist is back.

It took years, it took innumerable doctor’s appointments, it took work, and it’s still not over, but to be able to be myself again is the greatest gift in the world.  The waiting process is slow.  Really slow.  You’ll switch doctors a lot.  You’ll switch medications a lot.  But you will come back.  You will get to meet yourself again, and that reunion will be the greatest moment of your life.  ♡

 


 

Photo by Blake Lisk on Unsplash

4 Things To Remember If You Have a Chronic Illness 

On days like this — when I try to keep moving, to not fall asleep a few hours after I’ve gotten up, to not waste the day — and fail . . . These are the days I am most prone to breaking. To believing that I will not get better. That I have no one and will have no one. These are also the days I am most prone to blaming myself for breaking.

It is on these days that I need to remind myself of where I am; of where I have been and where I will be. It is on these days, when I want to focus on anything else but myself and my illness, that I must do just that. Because you cannot pour from an empty glass. Because self care is not selfish. Because it is not always fun, but is necessary.

 

Remember:

I.

You are ill. You are not useless. You cannot cure this by fighting its existence. But you can treat it by treating yourself with care. You are recovering, and that in and of itself is an accomplishment. You are still here, and what you give the world the few days out of every month that you feel well is better than not giving anything at all.

II. 

You have people that care about you. You may know them now, or they might be waiting somewhere in your future. Your illness might make you isolate yourself accidentally, by making you never feel up to going out or talking, or it may make you feel like you want to isolate yourself. Either is okay. They are not good, but they are okay. And they are not permanent. Consider loneliness a symptom of your illness. It will not be forever, and it is not your fault.

III. 

Don’t think too much about the future. Asking yourself, “Will I be able to do this?” will get you no closer to doing it. There are small things to be done and appreciated in each day. They are all that require your attention right now.

IV.

Remember: this is worth it. 

How I Became Happier By Giving Up Positive Thinking

I used to think that positive thinking never worked for me because I just wasn’t fully committed to it. I thought it must just be one of those mind over matter things where if you could absolutely, completely, convince yourself you were happy, you would be. And maybe that’s true, but let me tell you, it’s definitely the hard way into positivity and I’ve only ever felt worse from attempting it.

So, if I gave up on even attempting positive thinking, how did I get happier? Well, I didn’t give up so much as I remodeled it. I stopped thinking of it as positive thinking and started thinking of it as productive thinking.

Before I elaborate, I just want to say that I didn’t come up with this reconstruction all on my own. I’ve started regularly using planners from The Happiness Planner and, while they didn’t call it productive thinking, it was their approach to negative things that led me to that title.

At the very beginning of the planner, there’s a section where you have to write in the things that make you feel bad. I fully expected myself to skip this part. I deal with quite a bit of anxiety and off and on depression, so I have a lot of negative thoughts floating around my mind for little to no reason to begin with. Actively trying to pull negativity with actual reasons behind it to the surface on top of that sends me into the Land of Nope Nopity Nope Nope Not Today Nope.

But, because I’m also a fairly motivated and determined person and I wanted to complete the entire planner, I filled it out anyway. To my surprise, instead of freaking out, I actually felt better. This I credit entirely to the format of the planner (I promise I’m not associated with it I just thought it was really good). It doesn’t just tell you to write down the things that make you feel bad and then focus on positive things instead. The exact process it guides you through is: “What makes you feel upset? Is it beyond your control? If not, how can you change it?”

It sounds so obvious whenever I repeat it to anyone, but after years of having things like “Happy thoughts only!” and “Focus on the good!” drilled into my mind under the guise of positive thinking, it didn’t even occur to me anymore to just acknowledge a bad situation, ask myself if I could do anything about it, and either let it go if I couldn’t or get to work if I could.

I took this line of thinking outside the planner and immediately felt a huge release. It wasn’t a magic cure-all solution, but it was light-years better than my old attempts at positive thinking.

See, this is what my head used to look like when I tried to “think positive”:

“Man, it’s been a really bad day. I feel awful.

Oh, wait  —  that’s a negative thought! Uhhh, okay, positive thought, positive thought . . .

I feel good. There, yeah, I feel good! The rest of today’s gonna be good. Just smile, be happy.

I’m lying. I feel awful. I’ve had a bad day and I feel awful.

No! I feel GOOD! Everything’s GREAT! Look, I’m SMILING!

Maybe I should just go audition for that muppet on Sesame Street who lives in the trash.”

The end result is that by trying to push out the “bad thoughts,” I end up dwelling on what made me feel bad way longer than I would have if I’d just acknowledged that I was having a bad day and moved on.

It’s like trying to teach yourself math just by saying “Think mathematically.” Where are the steps? Where are the formulas? Where are the practice sheets? It just doesn’t work. You’ll end up staring at the first problem all day trying to will your brainwaves into working like Einstein’s.

Not to mention, even if you succeed in warping a bad situation into a good one, you’ll start getting dependent on being able to happify everything, and there are some things in life that just aren’t happy and aren’t meant to be.

Productive thinking is about steps. It’s about making progress. It’s about keeping yourself moving forward no matter how you feel. It’s about letting go of the things you can’t change instead of trying to force them into the positivity mold.

This is my thought process now that my aim is to think productively:

“Wow, I feel really bad today. Well, sometimes going for a walk makes me feel better, so I’ll try that, but if it doesn’t work out, I’ll accept that I just feel bad today and keep going anyway because bad days are okay, too.”

You’ll probably still hear me use the term “positive thinking” just because it’s what I and most other people are used to, but in my opinion it tends to lead people in the wrong direction. It’s okay to focus on the good. It’s okay to do everything you can to try to make yourself and others feel good. What’s not okay is trying to force everything into the Box of Goodness.

Consider positivity your pet cat. If you try to pick it up and put it where you want it, it’ll keep getting up and walking away. But if you leave it be and get to work, you’ll turn around to find it sprawled across all your belongings.

 


 

Photo by Sylwia Bartyzel on Unsplash

8 New Year’s Resolutions For People With Depression

1. Aim to accomplish one thing a day.

It can be big or small, depending on how you’re feeling; anything from adding an extra mile to your run to taking a shower and putting on real clothes. No accomplishment is better or worse than another. On bad days, getting dressed and feeding yourself can take just as much effort as your biggest accomplishment on a good day. Your depression may not go away entirely, but you will have good days where you feel like you again, and until then you just need to keep moving.

At the end of the day, write down what you’ve done.

2. Listen to yourself and your body.

If your muscles feel so weak you can barely hold a glass of water, but you have no explanation for it, cancel anyway. It’s good to push through things sometimes, but there are also times when pushing through just makes it worse. Stop pushing through everything just to say you did, and save your energy for the things you can’t cancel. Just because you don’t have an explanation doesn’t mean what you’re going through isn’t real.

3. Get outside.

I don’t care if you go stand outside the front door for ten minutes and then come right back in. Get outside every day.

4. Nourish your body.

Your body is doing its best to be healthy and functional for you. Help it out  —  give it water and feed it good things, even if they take a little longer to make.

5. Stop trying to fight your emotions.

Stop clinging to happiness, stop fighting sadness, stop trying to convince yourself that your heart doesn’t feel like it’s beating out of your chest. Keep reminding yourself to let yourself feel what you’re feeling. (Note: if you don’t have practice doing this, it can be hard! A couple of good mindfulness apps to get you started are Calm and Headspace.)

6. Read more, and read whatever you want.

If “grown-up” novels bring the weight of the world crashing down on you, that’s fine. Go read Winnie-the-Pooh.

7. Exercise often.

It can be three squats or an hour long run. Whatever you can do, do it. This is especially important on days where you almost feel good, but not quite. Exercising might give you that extra boost you need to get going, even if it’s just for a couple minutes.

Aim for 5–6 days a week.

8. Ask for help.

A trick of depression is making you feel like you can’t ask for help. Fight this. Fight it and fight it again. Even if you feel too tired, or you feel like you’re bothering them, or asking for help just doesn’t seem worth it, ask anyway. Ask for help over and over again until you get it. Your health and happiness are worth it.

I was starting to think about my New Years resolutions for 2017 and I realized quite a few of them related to depression. Most of these are all things I’ve been doing off and on in 2016 and have found to be helpful, so I’m resolving to make them a habit in 2017. I thought I’d share them in case they could help anyone else, too. ❤