I’ve been open on my blog before (here, here, and here) about living with bipolar disorder, which I manage well. I typically have two or three high and low swings each year, and I deal with it by staying home, staying off the internet, not buying anything, not driving…just basically staying under the radar. When I’m way up, I try to use the energy to clean. When I’m way down, I sleep, go for walks, vent to my sweet patient husband, or write. I haven’t had a swing in a while and I don’t feel one coming, but I’ve had a string of unlucky days and it made me think about writing this post.
So sometimes you’re depressed and sometimes you’re just having a bad day. I made a list of things that help me through bad days. The key for me is to stay busy doing easy things.
- Read a classic work of literature. Read the Sparknotes. Read criticisms and analysis of the work and decide how you feel about it. Relating to themes in literature and philosophy help me deal with the absurdity of real life.
- Find a cause to support. Activism helped me find some motivation and conviction for something outside of my work. If you’re bumming, you’re not gonna want to go out and volunteer anywhere. Instead, use your down time to read up on the issues you care about, learn about the opposition, learn what others have done to help. Then when you feel more energetic you can do something more about it.
- Change your space. Sell a bunch of stuff and use the money to buy some new stuff. Or just simplify and get rid of things. Changing a rug or rearranging a floor plan can make me feel like I’m somewhere else.
- Really, I can’t stress this enough, KEEP A BOX OF CAKE MIX IN YOUR HOUSE. Something you only need an egg for. Something you can make at any time. If you don’t have a friend or roommate or spouse or kid to bake with, make something and eat it all yourself or share the extra with some coworkers. You don’t have to feel upbeat, but making others happy is a good way to help yourself.
- Blog for yourself, or keep a journal. If you want to face your own thoughts on a micro-level first, both are great.
- Keep a 10 or 20-dollar bill in a pocket. My mom has done this since I was little–she always has a bill tucked behind the ID window in her wallet for something fun. Last time I used mine, I bought some bright blue tights. Maybe retail therapy is unwise, but I think that earmarking a little cash for a rainy day is a good idea.
As colder weather approaches, we’re all more prone to having more bad days than usual, or even depression. If you feel like your health is in danger, always seek professional help. There are tons of doctors whose passion is helping others feel well, and if you go speak to one and open up, it can save your life. But when you’re just down in the dumps and you can’t break out of it, maybe these tips will help. If you have anything else to add, I encourage you to do so in the comments!