12 Things to Do When You're Depressed
Compiled from the book
Depression is a Choice:
Winning the Battle Without Drugs
by A. B. Curtiss
1. Recognize and verbalize to yourself that you are depressed as soon as possible.. "Oh, I know what this is. This is depression. Okay, I can handle this."This will start to break up the tendency to identify with depression as "your life" instead of seeing it as it really is, a body alarm system gone out-of-whack. You are not your depression. You are you, and your depression is just your depression. It is something that is happening to you. You should not be something that is happening to it.
2. Have a mental list ready, ahead of time, of neutral or positive thoughts to think instead of the thought "I am depressed." A nursery rhyme, a mantra, a prayer, a word. Even row, row, row, your boat works. Or yes, yes, yes, yes, yes. Any downer thought strengthens the mind-set of depression. Any neutral or positive thought lessens the power of depression because it is a break in your direct neuronal connection with depression for as long as you are able to think it.
3. Do just the opposite of what you normally do when you are depressed to break up the depressive mind set. If you normally sigh a lot, every time you start to sigh, sing a few "la, la, la's" instead, or say "ho, ho, ho" as if you were Santa Claus. If you normally sit in the dark, turn on all the lights. If you normally curl up immobilized in the fetal position, get up and dance. Your depression will not want you to dance. Do it anyway.
4. Try to recognize and verbalize the habitual thoughts that come with your depression. When you catch yourself in a habitual thought have a substitute thought ready to replace it. Now try and replace the habitual feelings with a thought. Concentrate on the thought instead of the feeling. Scream the thought in your mind, if you have to, as if you could drown out the feeling with the thought.
5. Add one item to personal grooming that would ordinarily not be done just for "work" or "around the house." It doesn't matter how small a change. The goal is strengthening the process of doing something our depression doesn't want us to do in order to exercise our will over depression. Already we will feel less powerless.
6. Look around for the next task at hand. Do the thing closest to you and your second task will already appear clearer. There is great sanity in knowing that you although you might feel utterly abandoned and lifeless in your depression, Life will never leave you without the next thing to do.
7. Do a small thing. Don't try to clean the house. Just clear off a small part of your desk. Don't try to jog for a half hour, just start jogging and commit to the first five steps. Then you can commit to five more steps. Again the idea is to force your power over the power of your depression.
8. Call someone you know is not home and leave a cheery message on their answering machine. The very cheerful sound of your own voice will break up the habitual mind-set of depression. Don't talk in a weak, sad voice. Talking in a weak sad, voice and sighing are habits of depression, they are habits you should break immediately.
9. Leave your house and go someplace where you will have a chance to hook-up with regular life in some small way. Just open the door and walk out. See where you go. See what happens. Depression is not regular life. Depression is a state of alarm that gets stuck in itself like an auto horn that keeps blowing. Isolating yourself is another habit of depression that you should start to break.
10. Look up jokes on the Internet. Laugh out loud. Smile. Force the corners of your mouth up. Whether you feel like it or not. You are not laughing and smiling because anything is funny. You are laughing and smiling because it breaks your direct neuronal connection with your depression. The longer you can laugh and smile, the bigger the break.
11. Ignore your depression. Paying attention to your depression maintains a direct neuronal connection to your depression. Paying attention to anything else breaks the direct neuronal connection to your depression for as long as you can pay attention to something else.
12. Especially don't think about yourself. You are not really thinking about yourself when you are depressed, you are just thinking about your depression. The way you don't think about yourself is to think about someone else. Send someone a silent blessing or healing. Imagine their pain melting away, their tumor disappearing, their wound healing. Remember, being depressed is going in the wrong direction. If you take just the smallest, tiniest baby step in the right direction and you will see that you have just turned yourself 180 degrees around.