What to do When You're Depressed

Whether you are diagnosed with Major Depressive Disorder (MDD), or going through a personal crisis, or honestly if you're just human--you'll be depressed at times. The depression may range from mild blues to not being able to get out of bed. So, what do you do when you find yourself in a position where everything seems gray and like nothing will ever get better? I have a few tips today that might help you out. Everyone experiences depression in different ways, so these won't necessarily apply to everyone. However, I truly believe that at least one of these tips can help you out in a time of depression.

What to do When You're Depressed:

Step 1. Rate your symptoms. I usually do this on a "1 to 10" scale, one being the worst, ten being the best:

      10. Things are perfectly awesome. No need to worry.
        9. Things are pretty great. Not everything is perfect, but you're getting along just fine.
        8. Things are pretty good. Not too much to complain about, though nothing is perfect.
        7. Things are good, but getting closer to the "meh" side of things. You're trudging along and having a pretty good time for the most part.
        6. Things aren't necessarily the best. They aren't bad, but they aren't good. Things aren't quite going your way and you're a bit discouraged at times.
        5. Things are "meh". You don't really want to do much, but you go about your daily routine out of necessity, hoping things will get better.
        4. Things aren't very good. You consider calling in sick to work because you're just not feeling up to handling life today. You follow most of routine, but it is extremely difficult.
        3. You call in sick to work and to all of your obligations. You can't seem to get out of bed. You have a constant stream of negative thoughts that you can't seem to push away. Everything that usually sounds good doesn't sound good at all. Your body feels heavy and you mind feels sluggish. If you go to a psychiatrist, now might be a good time to call your doctor, or to call your therapist.
        2. You are extremely low. All of the symptoms of 3 plus suicidal thoughts and feelings. You almost feel numb at times. You definitely should call your doctor and/or therapist.If you don't have a psychiatrist, call your normal general physician.
        1. You are making suicide plans. At this point, you should call you doctor and go into the hospital.

(Now, I am no medical or psychiatric professional. This scale is based on my own personal experiences, so please keep that in mind.)

Step 2. Now that you have rated where you're at, you'll be able to make the necessary adjustments to start feeling better. For the next steps 3-9, I'm going to address ratings 5 through 3. If you can't move past a step, congratulate yourself for making it to that step and rest. If later on you can keep pushing forward to the next step, great! If not, stay proud of yourself for accomplishing what you have.

Step 3. Stand up. It sounds silly, but just do it. Stand up and walk into a different room. Getting your blood flowing will surprisingly help your mood.

Step 4. Take a shower or change your clothes. Taking a shower always helps me clear my head a bit and relax. If you aren't up to a shower, change your clothes. Changing your clothes helps your mind recognize that you're trying to change up your perspective.

Step 5. Get ready for the day, even if you aren't going to leave your bed. Feeling ready can help you feel accomplished and better about yourself. Whenever I'm having a bad day, I try to make it to this step. If I make it to this step, I feel somewhat better, even if I don't move onto step 6.

Step 6. Get outside. Even if you just step out onto your porch, get outside for just a minute. Cabin fever is a real thing, my friends. Getting a tiny bit of fresh air for just a minute can do wonders.

Step 7. Go somewhere. Go on a walk. Go on a drive. One of my favorite things to do is to go to Sonic and grab a Diet Coke. Not necessarily a "healthy" habit, but it gets me out of my house and helps me feel better.

Step 8. Try to do one act of service. Text a friend you know is having a hard time. Call a family member and tell them you love them. Don't yell at the person who cuts you off. (That's my kind of service) Give a dollar or two to that person on the corner. Do something. Do something for someone, no matter how small.

Step 9. Move on to doing what obligations you can for the rest of the day. Do what you can, then get some rest. Sleep is important for mental health, especially for those who suffer from MDD or other disorders.

Now, for ratings 2-1:

Step 3. Call a trusted friend or family member and alert them to what is going on. Even if you're afraid to or don't want to "bug them". Please just call them. It is important to have a support system. (If you feel like you don't have anyone to turn to, you can email me! yellowinthegray@gmail.com)

Step 4. Call your doctor, therapist, and/or the suicide hotline. 1-800-273-8255. Don't stay dwelling on suicidal thoughts and feelings. Now is the time to get help. Be brave enough to pick up the phone and get the help you need.

Step 5. Follow the directions of your friend/family member, doctor, therapist, or other professional you got in touch with.

Now, I'm not a professional when it comes to these things. However, I do have a lot of experience. I have a lot of experience with not being able to get out of bed. I am well versed in negative thoughts that hold me back from being happy. I know what it's like to feel like gravity is dragging me down and that nothing will ever get better. But I also know that these steps help! They have helped me overcome depression day to day, and I think they'll help you too.

Do you have any other tips? Comment them below!


Get Happy

When I was a senior in high school, my English teacher invited us all to write a letter to our future selves. She promised to hold onto those letters, and to then mail them to us after five years had passed. I had forgotten all about this, until I received the letter today.

As I went to open the envelope, I admittedly did so trepidatiously. What expectations did I have for myself back then as an 18 year old? I almost didn't want to find out. But of course, curiousity got the best of me and I ripped the envelope open.

Dear Rachel,

    What's it like being twenty three? Honestly, this is really hard for me to write because I can't picture where I will be in five years. Five years is not a long time, but a lot of changes are going to happen in those five years.

    So. Life right now. I'm a week and two days away from graduation. I am so sick of school. I'm hoping that I can get my C- up to a B in my CE1050 class so that I can get six thousand dollars from Regents Scholars. I'm going to BYU in the fall. Right now things that are popular are Pinterest, Twitter, Facebook, hipsters, and the Avengers. I'm listening to Codex by Radiohead. It's 8:44 p.m. and I'm tired. My mom is in Texas spending time with Granny Jan and Grandpa Ron. Grandpa is sick, we think he might have pancreatic cancer. My dad is in Boise on a business trip. Small, inconsequential things that I won't remember five years from now.

    Who did you marry? I'm super curious about that. Did you go into English? I'm really interested in English right now. I love writing. You can't tell from this letter, but I really do. And I suspect you do too. If you didn't go into English, what did you go into? Where are you working? You don't have kids do you?! Holy cow.

I laughed and I cried about this letter. I got my C- up to a B and got the scholarship. My grandpa passed away from pancreatic cancer two years later. I'm not married. I did go into English, and I do love writing. And no, I definitely do not have kids. 

The questions that I asked myself in the letter were full of expectations. It wasn't, "Hey, are you married?" It was "Who did you marry?" The unfulfilled expectation of marriage felt like a punch to my stomach. The letter is full of expectations of having the perfect, planned little life. Graduate high school. Go to college. Meet a nice boy and marry him in the temple. Graduate from college. Get a job and start having babies. 

Where am I at now?

Single. Still in college, trying not to flunk out. No little family of my own. Lonely at times. Struggling with self-worth. Not where I wanted to be.

I pushed aside the disappointment and kept reading. I'm glad I did. The part of the letter that got me the most was the last paragraph. As I read it, a lump formed in my throat. I felt as though past Rachel knew what needed to be said, though I don't know how I could've known back then how much I would need it now:

Well, I hope life is great. I hope you've done the best you can and that you've become what I want to be in five years. I hope you are strong in your testimony. I hope you work hard. I hope you live like every day was your last. I hope you are happy. And if you're not, get your act together, girlfriend. Get happy.

Love, Rach

*Letter edited a bit for names and content*

Get your act together, girlfriend. Get happy.

Truly, how often in our lives do we end up where we thought we should be? How often do our picture perfect plans come to pass? If that all happens for you, props my friend. For me, and I'm guessing most others, life is not like that. We don't end up where we thought we should be. Our picture perfect plans get erased and re-sketched all the time. Our great expectations are rarely fulfilled. But you know what never changes for anyone? Our ability to get happy.

We all have our challenges. My biggest challenge is having bipolar disorder. It causes some really, really dark days. But those dark days don't prevent me from getting happy. I can go out there and get it! Happiness is out there, and it starts with getting your act together. For me, that means getting rid of the word "but". "But" is usually followed by "I have bipolar disorder" or "I'm not myself right now." To get happy, I have to get rid of but. 

That is just one thing of many that I can work on to get happy. The question is, What are you going to do to get happy? What changes do you need to make? What relationships need strengthening? In short, get your act together, girlfriend.

Get happy.