Those who suffer from depression understand that we have our “good days” and “bad days”. On good days, our overall mood is fairly average. Strangers wouldn’t even guess that you even have depression. Or maybe, we’re just feeling pretty “okay” but either which way, on good days, we’re holding up well and managing our day-to-day tasks with the expected level of attention and care and are able to enjoy our lives.
These are the days we pretty much live for and we try to savor every moment while it lasts because we don’t know how many we’ll have before the bad days come back around again.
On bad days, we feel anything but okay. The overwhelming sadness, the complete loss of interest in things that usually bring us joy. Simple daily tasks seem to take a significant amount more effort than they should. Getting out of bed feels like an impossible feat. For some (like me), falling asleep is an equally impossible feat, whereas, falling asleep when that’s the last thing you want to do is easy as breathing. and don’t get me started on the crushing guilt that comes with it. Feeling guilty for being tired and sad without a visible reason is sometimes, worse than the depression itself. I know it is for me.
It’s like this overwhelming sadness comes out of nowhere. Like, one day you wake up and the world seems dimmer, less vibrant. The things that brought you so much joy and excitement just the day before can barely hold your interest.
I know it seems like you’re doomed to sacrifice half of your life to these “bad days”. Like there’s nothing you can do to defend yourself against them outside of taking pills everyday. And even those who take medication can tell you that there are times when even the medication isn’t quite enough to keep the looming clouds of sadness completely at bay.
But there is a way to defend against it. There are warning signs. the bad days don’t always start with the feelings of sadness or listlessness. They can start with the simple feeling of being tired. Your mood may be just fine and you may feel perfectly happy but physically, you star noticing you don’t have as much energy as you’d like. Simple tasks may take a lot more out of you than they normally would. another sign could be that you slowly lose interest in the things that make you happy or even stop thinking about them altogether. And sometimes everything else with it for that matter. Feeling tensious when faced with everyday stressors that previously had little to no effect on you.
Everyone goes through this now and again but for those with depression, it can be the precursor to a run of “bad days”.
But there’s a way to ward this off and it’s a lot easier than it seems at first.
I know you’re tired of me saying this, but: Clean your room.
Yes, that’s right. Even if it isn’t really that messy. Clean it. And don’t leave you the room until you’re done. If you’ve let your room go completely, like I did, then just focus getting your breathing room back.
Don’t worry about the details yet. When you’re this exhausted, getting caught up in the process of organizing and sorting and all that will only drain you of what little energy you have left and you won’t even get that finished.
- If it’s in your room and it doesn’t belong there, just set it aside in a pile or stack and get back to it later.
- Fold your clean laundry
- Straight your shelves and dresser tops and such
- Put all the trash in a waste basket (or just a garbage bag if you don’t have one. I used a plastic grocery bag)
Once you’ve finished all that, gather up the pile of things that don’t belong in your room and take them to their respective rooms. Then come back to your room. And go ahead and sit down and look around. You’ll notice a change in how you feel. Yes, you’ll still be tired but it’ll be a different tired. Rather than the exhaustion of depression, it’ll be more like the fatigue of hard work and with it, comes a sense of accomplishment.
At this point, if you feel good enough, go ahead and start on those small details. Sort your mail. Organize your books. Put your laundry away. Whatever you feel like doing. Then when you’re done, go ahead and take a nap if you can. And don’t feel bad about it. It’s alright. The sleep will be more satisfying with such a productive task done.
The key is to not put this off. As soon as you have the spare time, get to work. If you have children, ask your partner to keep them busy in another room while you take put all your focus into the task. If you’re a single parent, of a small child or a baby, then do it during their nap time or bring them into the room with you. When I used to babysit, I remember holding the baby on my hip, playing music and cleaning with my free hand. Cooing and speaking to the baby and even dancing a little with him added greatly to the emotional boost I got from this simple, mundane task.
The whole purpose of this to help clear your mind. Our bedroom is the place where we go each day to seek rest and escape the worries, responsibilities and tresses of the world. It’s where we seek rejuvenation. As such, it should have an atmosphere conducive to peace rather than chaos. and if you’ve read my previous articles, you should already know that being surrounded by clutter and disarray creates an atmosphere counter-inducive (is that a word? well, I’m making it one. so there. hahaha) to a peaceful mind and heart.
Now, if your room is clean, then clean it anyway. Dust your furniture. Sweep or vacuum your floor. Make your bed. Wash your windows. I know it may seem trivial but you’ll feel a difference. Trust me.
Have you ever walked into a room where the people in it had just been arguing? The old saying, “The air was so thick you could cut it with a knife” comes to mind for me. the goal of cleaning your room, is to rid yourself of any lingering energy from the everyday stresses that are contributing to the depression that’s building up inside of you.
I know what you’re probably thinking.”Harley, it’s so easy for you to say that. It’s easy to say you’re going to do this next time you feel this way when you’re feeling good. But it’s a different story when you’re smack in the middle of it.”
Trust me. I know this to be very true. And that’s why I uploaded a video to my new YouTube channel, SurrealifiedTV. In this video, I’ll show you my advice put into real life practice. I’m exhausted and have been fighting a really bad bout of depression, so I ramble a bit but the general message remains the same: You can do it! (picture Gai-sensei or even that dude from Waterboy if you need emphasis). So, check it out. And please be gentle. It’s my first video.