Set backs are a natural part of life. Nothing ever really goes smoothly does it? So obviously when you're recovering from depression you cannot expect an easy journey.
No matter how well things are going, no matter how much progress you have made, there is always a chance that today will be a 'bad day'. And when that happens it can be tempting to overreact. If you’ve worked really hard on your recovery and you’re doing all the right things it’s so frustrating when these 'bad days' hit.
Am I just back to square one? Am I really making any progress? Sometimes it seems like it’s inevitable that the depression will come back. I’m having a few of these bad days at the moment and all of those thoughts go through my head. But I’ve learned with experience that I just have to accept that I’m having a bad day. Sounds simple doesn’t it? But you’d be amazed how long I can lie to myself and pretend that I’m fine.
Once I accept what I’m feeling, I can actually do something about it. I write a lot on my bad days. Writing helps me express what I’m feeling. While it’s swirling around in my mind it can all seem very confusing. Writing puts some order on things and makes it all easier to comprehend. I’ve found there is great relief to be found in writing down that thing that has been at the back of your mind, that thing that you have been trying to convince yourself isn’t really a problem.
Relaxation is important for everyone. Everybody should take 10 minutes everyday just for themselves. I find it especially helpful when I’m feeling down. I scan my body to see how I’m really feeling. Tension here, pain there, I just notice it all and listen to what my body is saying to me.
As someone who has had reason to deal with a lot of physical pain for many years I learned to ignore pain for a long time. But it is important we pay attention to what our bodies tell us. That pain or tension could be telling you something far more than you think.
On bad days all of my worries and fears attack me harder. I’m 25, no girlfriend, no job, no qualifications worth talking about. Even if I do go back to college next year I’ll be at least 30 before I’m back out in the work place. These things bother me. They could put me in a very bad downward spiral on bad days. That’s why I have to make a deliberate effort to avoid thinking about my problems on days when I am depressed.
I also make sure to avoid making long-term decisions when I’m depressed. This can be inconvenient at times and extremely frustrating at other times! I’m always trying to prove that I’m no different to anyone else; that I can do what everyone else without depression can do.
But when I am depressed I have to be mature enough to realise my limitations and realise that I cannot be making big choices that I will regret once the depression passes. We are in control of our thoughts and sometimes we need to ask ourselves the question “Is thinking about these problems today helping me?” If the answer is no then we need to stop it.
I’m now at the point in my recovery that depression isn’t something I have to think about daily. I can go weeks without being depressed. Personally I don’t think that I will ever be 100% free of depression, and that’s OK with me, because I know that I can and will progress to the point that I can control how it affects me and my life. And when the bad days come I have to just allow the depression to pass; however long that it takes.