Five Frank Tips that Helped Me Manage My Depression
by D.R. Cootey, A Splintered Mind
September 6, 2019

Managing your depression doesn't mean it goes away. Sometimes life will come at you just fast enough to throw you off your game. Here are five tips that helped me get my depression back in control.

As I write this, I am depressed. I shouldn't be. There's so much going right in my life right now, but the feeling of that bleak fist of hopelessness around my heart is fairly tight. I am finishing up what is arguably the most productive summer I've had in years, yet I feel like an abysmal failure. This summer I have mountains of paperwork and completed applications to prove my productivity. Logic stammers in awe at the long list of massive projects I have undertaken since May. So why do I feel like such a failure tonight?

The obvious answer is that it's just my stupid depression talking. I'm not a failure! But I feel like one. For some reason, I am miserable, agitated, overwhelmed by feelings of grief, and crushed under the weight of a stifling sadness. I called a daughter, finding the love and support that I needed. Yet despite my daughter's earnest cheers on my behalf, I still could not shake the oppressive weight of depression. It was time to change my way of thinking. So I decided as a coping strategy to go for a walk and think about my recent accomplishments.

One accomplishment in particular should have me tap dancing on the moon. I have lost 40 pounds since March 2018. I lost over 8 inches off of my waist. This is a phenomenal accomplishment, ending a twenty-seven year struggle. I no longer wear XXL shirts, and I can fit in size L pants now. No more refrigerator box-shaped pants for me. I haven't been this trim since my early 30s. So of course I shrug my shoulders apathetically and dismiss that accomplishment as insignificant. However, my dietary health issues have never been so regulated and under control. Why shouldn't that make me happy?

As I walked, I dictated this blog, putting together a mental list of everything I'd worked on and finished over the summer. Here's what I came up with:

  • Submitted medical forms for girls camp
  • Prepped & packed for girls camp (I was a chaperone)
  • Submitted reams of documents for the Brownie's DSPD application
  • Submitted more reams of documents for her VocRehab application
  • Took a guardianship class
  • Drove Brownie to therapy group twice a week, counseling every two weeks, plus went to my own six hours of physical therapy every week this summer. (I also did physical therapy exercises at home.)
  • Had a VocRehab meeting and got my daughter enrolled in the program.
  • Attended Family Fight Club (better than Uno!)
  • Gathered medical docs for my car insurance lawyer (6 year case)
  • Gathered and submitted 63 pages of medical forms and evaluations from seven doctors and therapists to file for disability requalification for the Brownie, as well as a CD-R filled with seven years of emergency response reports.
  • Registered Brownie for school
  • Filled out guardianship forms
  • Gathered documents for guardianship submission
  • I may have lost 40 pounds, and eight inches off my waist, but I've also solved a food mystery that has been plaguing me for three decades. This is a very big deal.

That seems like a lot, but maybe I've been too busy dealing with my own disabilities and being a full-time dad of a disabled girl to take notice.

I've been so busy, I didn't even pay much attention when this blog was nominated for a WeGo health award. I didn't promote it, and I didn't even check to see what came of it. In fact, I still need to finish the Guardianship paperwork this week, then I'm contacting a lawyer to represent my daughter during the guardianship hearing.

Maybe I'm depressed because after three months of work, I'm still not finished. Maybe all of this work has me feeling isolated. I certainly don't socialize with other adults very much. Whatever the reason, I've been asking myself lately, "When will I be happy?" I'm beginning to wonder if I ever will be. It seems I am never satisfied with enjoying the moment. I'm always looking forwards to the future when things will finally be better.

What a miserable way to live. So I'm going to give myself advice and share it with you here.:

  1. Stop selling yourself short. Depression is heavy enough to deal with without you adding more weight to it.
  2. Do something that makes you smile. Surely something positive out there brings a smile to your face, no matter how slight.
  3. Make a list of accomplishments. Even a little bit of progress is still progress. Own it.
  4. Do something new. The day-to-day grind is a routine that can stifle and suffocate spontaneity. I'm not proposing that you toss your responsibilities out the window, but make an effort to break your routine. Go for a walk. Change your scenery. Do something different.
  5. Go have some fun. Find somebody-friend, family member, pet, lover-and go on a positivity date. I know. It sounds so dopey. But if I just hang out with my friends, we always start talking politics. It's all too negative. I need to do something upbeat and relaxing. Laugh. Smile. Would it kill you to have some fun?

I've taken most of this advice tonight as I wrote this blog, and I already feel tons better. I'll attend FanX comic con this weekend with a daughter and a friend, so #5 will be taken care of as well.

Depression will rob us of joy if we don't fight it. I can usually handle this battle, but when life is stressful, and responsibilities pile on like sacks of heavy potatoes, it's hard to get out from under all of that weight. These five tips didn't magically wipe away my depression. It's still there, lurking under the surface. Fine. Let it lurk. I'm back in control. At some point you, too, are going to be tired of the sadness. Use that moment to make a change. Recommit to your coping strategies. Make sure you're taking your medications. And screw your head back on straight. It's time to start enjoying the moment. You can do this.