It Takes a Day to Break

I imagine those of you who suffer from chronic, oh so persistent, depression will relate to this the most, but maybe everyone will.

This is going to be a personal post, and possibly a bit depressing, so Mom you might want to skip this one.

It feels like my life is a cycle is pulling myself together, getting my life on track, being on a good streak, and then falling. It’s annoying a best and completely discouraging at worst.

B-Ravin, what are you talking about?

I’m talking about how one day can set you back so, so much. It takes three days to form a habit, and one day to break it. Lets say you feel like you’ve got your life finally on track. Or, on track for your situation. You’re in college, developed a good study regiment, a good workout routine, and you’ve been sticking to your new diet for two weeks now. Great! You’ve probably worked really hard to get to that point. Then you have a day where you get sick. You don’t work out for a few days due to exhaustion and you break your diet because you only feel like eating jello. You study the minimum amount so you can spend the rest of the time sleeping and watching tv and hope that this illness only last a day or two. Your whole routine, the one you’ve worked so hard to establish and perfect, is ruined. Once you feel better, you first have to catch up on all the studying and homework you put off. This leaves little time for cooking and working out, so you get take out and skip the exercise. Slowly, so slowly you may be able to force yourself to get back on track with studying, get off the junk food and back to cooking, and eventually back to the gym. For a few weeks. Maybe even a few months. Then you get sick again.

B-Ravin, I know exactly what you’re talking about.

While most everyone can relate to this if I’m talking about a cold or an ear infection, not everyone realizes that depression is just as bad. You spend one day where you just can’t force yourself to get out of that bed, and everything falls apart. The next day, it’s hard to get up, but you may eventually do it. Then you’ve got to set what’s priority and focus on catching up on those priorities. Then slowly break all the bad habits you formed while playing catch-up, and replace them with new ones.

That’s the cycle of my life. At least, that’s how it feels. I still haven’t managed to get back into a regular workout routine after a few months (I’ve worked out on and off, but haven’t formed a habit). Granted, part of that is because I’m not in a great situation at the moment – many things in my life are very unstable right now – which causes more frequent days of not getting out of bed until noon, if at all, because hey – why bother? But even when things were good – nearly perfect even – I had sick days that would just throw off everything.

I’m not even sure what happened. I had a regular work out habit, diet, chores, and job hunting routine that I followed daily. After a while, they just feel apart, and I have been struggling to get them back together ever since.

What do you do to get back into the swing of things once that swing has been thrown off? Do you struggle going back to set habits & routine after you spend a few days with a cold or depression?


What Living with Chronic Depression is Like (at least for me)

Living with depression means never knowing exactly when it’s going to strike.

It doesn’t mean being sad all the time. It doesn’t mean when you’re happy you’re “cured” or “over it.” It means you occasionally get “sick.” Sometimes because of a trigger, but for me it just comes and goes like rolling waves on an ocean.

Yes, I take sick days for depression. Just because it’s a mental disorder and not a cold, doesn’t mean it’s not a sickness, so to speak. I don’t take them often, just when it’s so bad I can’t even force myself out of bed, which is rare. Usually I can still go through the motions of life – my heart just isn’t into it.

My volunteer work helps. Feeling like I’m making a difference and getting the social need filled that even introverts have helps.

I’m in a slump. Adi, that’s the real reason I took so long to respond. I’m in a slump. I can crawl out of it myself – I’ve done it dozens of times, but sometimes it takes longer than others.

I forgot the original point of this post: to educate.

My SO’s sister said something today – that a friend was taking a short leave from work due to depression, but the way she said it sounded like she didn’t think that was a valid reason to take off work, even though it sounded like the depression was due to something that happened. Break a leg? Sure, take a few weeks off. Have something that traumatizes you emotionally happen? Take a day or two, but be back soon. Sometimes mental injuries take longer to heal than physical ones.

But my point is a little different. My point is about people with chronic depression, like myself. No, it doesn’t rule my everyday life like a physical disorder, but when it flares up, so to speak, I can lose days, even weeks. My mind just doesn’t work right. It’s harder to focus which makes it harder to remember things. This doesn’t affect my work too much, but it did affect my studying abilities during school when it would flare up.

For the past several days, maybe a week now, I’ve been in kind of a daze. This isn’t helped by me spending every spare moment to read the Maze Runner series (which is fantastic, btw) to help put myself in a different world.

I can’t say my work is totally unaffected. I can’t say I don’t understand why people would be hesitant to hire someone with depression, because I do. I do believe that the quality of my work is the same, but I’m a lot slower to do things. And I’m a lot less likely to coordinate with people because when I get like this, I just withdraw into myself and avoid communication as much as possible. But I’ll pull myself out of it. I’ll keep going. Yes, I took a half day today, but as long as I have sick leave, who cares if I take it for physical or mental illness?

So many people think that depression is something that you can just “get over,” but it’s not. It hits and it stays. It’s like that antidepressant commercial where the woman had a little black figure that represented depression sitting on her shoulder and it just kept growing and growing even though nothing bad was going on in her life. I’ve had people tell me that my life is great and I have no reason to be depressed. Well, that’s the thing about chronic depression – it’s an illness that isn’t really controlled by outside factors. Yes, outside factors affect it. For example, I think once I move and am no longer living with two people I dislike, and find a more satisfying job, I’ll get depressed less often, but the depression will still it.

It’s kind of like living with migraines. You learn to recognize the signs and do what you can to prevent the worst of it. Sometimes I’ll tell my SO when I feel it coming on. I didn’t this time. Not even sure he’s aware that I’ve been so out of it, feeling like I’m barely hanging on to the lighter side of the depression. Sometimes I’ll force myself to socialize with friends before it gets too bad, and that helps to lighten it and prevent me from going too far into the depression. Sometimes I’ll get myself to go to Sonic and get a delicious ice cream treat to help cheer myself up.

I don’t believe in taking pills for it – mostly because I’ve tried a few different kinds and didn’t like the results. I never felt quite like myself on those pills. And one of them gave me horrific nightmares. I think it’s something that just has to be taken one day at a time – like addiction. I’ve even tried using the 12 Step program that they use in Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous. It probably would have helped more if I had put more effort into it, heh.

I hope that this post has given you more insight to those who suffer with chronic depression, or helped you feel not so alone if you do suffer with chronic depression. As always, I would love to hear [read] any advice, thoughts, observations, ideas, personal stories, etc, that you’d like to share. Do you think it should be okay to take a sick day for depression? Do you suffer or know anyone that suffers from chronic depression? If you do, does this sound similar to what you go through? What tricks have worked for you when depression flares up?

Edit: Watching PewDiePie dance and sing “let it go” in an Elsa costume helps tremendously!