Depression can sneak up on you. Social worker Judy Eron advises that as soon as you recognize you’re beginning to sink, and while you can still convince yourself to take action, is the time to throw yourself a line. Here’s what you can do to stay afloat:
#1 Don’t retreat
Have a plan with someone you trust to tell that person if you start to feel depressed and then ask this friend or partner to check in with you every few days. People with bipolar disorder may be tempted to go it alone; however it opens the door for shame to creep in and silence you if you begin to judge and blame yourself.
#2 Schedule an extra session as soon as possible
Call your therapist, psychiatrist, and/or support group right away, says social worker Judy Eron. “Your inclination will be to shrug this off and postpone calling—but don’t. Your health professional will likely have some clues as to whether something physical or chemical or hormonal might be contributing to your sinking mood.”
#3 Keep a list of mood boosters
Create and have at the ready a list of things that are proven mood lifters. Start out with jotting down all the people, places, things or actions that you already know lighten your mood. Perhaps it’s certain kinds of music, movies, a comedy podcast or that positive friend of yours. Keep adding to the list and post it anyplace that it will stare you in the face.
#4 Embrace nature
Go outside. Get some fresh air—just getting outside your own four walls can be a good thing. Eron suggests that by being active, raising your heartbeat—especially outdoors—can produce changes that can lift your mood and stave off depression. “Maybe you start by sitting on your front steps, then you work your way up to taking a brisk walk around the block.”
#5 Maintain healthy sleep habits
Many people who live with bipolar disorder are prone to sleep problems so it’s important to pay attention to your schedule. A change in your sleep quality can be a symptom of something lurking. It’s important to place sleep hygiene a high priority as sleep deprivation can trigger a depressive episode in people with bipolar disorder.
#6 Write to yourself
Whether it’s a letter of encouragement or simply a sticky note reminding yourself that you’ve had these initial-stage feelings before and it will lift. “When you begin sinking,” says Eron, “You can too easily slip away from the factual knowledge that depression is caused by something chemical going on in your body and brain.” The act of writing to yourself can pull you back to this fact and prevent you from judging yourself too harshly.
#7 Let your mind take a breather
Sometimes it can be a relief to get away from thinking. Put on some soothing music, sit comfortably and still your mind by focusing on your breathing. Breathe in for 8 counts, then breathe out for 8 counts. The main thing is to concentrate on your breathing, to free yourself from thinking even for 10 minutes during the day.
via bpHope – bp Magazine Community