Oh, Neil. You are so funny. Stop it.
Another right-on quote? “Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the mouth.”
Perhaps it’s not the most inspirational saying, but it’s true, and if you’re alive and breathing, you know it. Everyone has plans. Hopes, dreams–call them what you will. I, for one, go straight crazy when my plans don’t work out. It could be as simple as having to settle for cheese grits for dinner because I was out of chicken…and potatoes, and salad, and bread, and vegetables, and cheese and milk and basically my fridge is completely empty because I’m scared to drive my car more than five miles away from my house to the grocery store. Whatever.
Where was I going with this?
Oh yes. For whatever reason, people find themselves clinically depressed–bummed out, if you will–from time to time. I’ve been there. It sucks. It’s damn near impossible to pull yourself out of it. I frequently battle the crazies–and p.s. I can call it “the crazies” because I myself have experienced them. If you haven’t, keep your mouth shut lest you get smacked.
Some crazies are more extreme than others. Some crazies involve medication or hospitalization. Maybe days upon days in bed asleep is helpful to one person; maybe it’s Jesus that pulls someone else out of their despair. One of my funks required Lexapro and brown paper bags in which to breathe my freaked-out breath into. It was good times, for…no one. I would have waved my magic wand and stopped that crazy train if I could have–but of course, that was not an option, so I had to seek out alternative methods of emotional restoration.
I’m writing this because my heart is absolutely sick for someone very dear to me, and I mean no disrespect by anything I say here. But I do want to help, so here’s some not-so-professional but nonetheless hopefully-helpful tips to putting yourself on track again, and keep in mind, this is coming from someone who couldn’t afford therapy (or more than 2 months’ worth of medicine), and who only had an impatient, no-nonsense husband to help pull her through. Not everything listed will pertain to the person I have in mind, but in general, these tips might be useful. Hear me out:
1. Go ahead and go to the doctor. I know there’s a ton of miracle pills out there for the taking, but make sure you’re taking the right ones at the right times, and, unless you’ve got a degree in that field, it’s probably best that you make a game plan with someone who studied up on those types of things for 8 years. Be completely honest with yourself and with your doctor, and bring a family member or a close friend to your appointments. (Sidenote: for me, this family member was my husband–the one who had been watching me wig out and the one who needed to know how to help me get back to better. It worked for us.)
2. Get off your ass. Like, for real. Get up. Get moving. Tired? Don’t care. Unmotivated? Don’t care. Sad? Lethargic? Sick? Don’t care, don’t care, don’t care. Stand. Walk. Get a shower. Put your make-up on. Empty the dishwasher, vacuum, make the bed. GO ABOUT YOUR DAILY BUSINESS, NO MATTER WHAT. If you have kids, take care of them. Keep them on a schedule and put yourself on a schedule. Take a walk. Break a sweat. Go look at nature and junk. Stroll along the beach. Hike through the woods. Breathe. Seriously, breathe.
And also? Sleep…so that you can get off your ass again tomorrow.
3. Eat, but don’t drink. That’s breakfast, lunch, and dinner with some small snacks in between; easy on the caffeine and absolutely zero alcohol. Nothing will jack you up more than being drunk and depressed. Bad combination. Believe me. I’ve tried it. Not my finest moment. Okay–moments. And the food thing? You can’t take miracle pills on an empty stomach.
4. Keep it light. No Evanescence–they’ll give you suicidal thoughts. No Luther Vandross–he’ll make you mourn your daddy who’s not even dead. No Natalie Portman movies because she’ll just make you feel fat and ugly. No cop movies because the noise will give you a headache. No Sandra Bullock movies because you’ll only wish you were watching a Natalie Portman movie. Only upbeat, uplifting music for the time being, and if you absolutely have to, get your Talledega Nights on. Frequently.
Stupid Natalie Portman.
5. Fake it til you make it. I know it’s hard, but pretend to laugh. Pretend to be present and involved. Go to dinner with the fam, that birthday party for a friend. Get your haircut and treat yourself to a pedicure while you’re at it. Smile, even when you don’t feel like it. Call somebody and talk about something other than how you’re feeling. It sounds stupid, but keep in mind that no one ever felt better by isolating themselves and dwelling on the problem.
6. Talk to someone about how you’re feeling. Counter-productive to tip#5? Sure. But it must be done. You’ve got to be able to process and vent, so get in touch with someone who understands or at the very least, someone who will listen–but not someone who will encourage you to dwell.
7. Do something for someone else. I’m talking about some volunteer work here–I’m not trying to downplay your problem but a little perspective never hurt anyone. And if you’re not up for wrangling brats at the YMCA, maybe start small by cleaning out your closet and donating a hefty chunk of your clothes (and I do mean a hefty chunk–chances are you could stand to downsize your wardrobe by half, and still have more than a hundred outfit options) to a women’s shelter or Catholic charities or that awesome program that gives nice clothes to under-privileged women looking to start careers. There are people that have so much less and I’m not just talking about material things. Just saying.
8. Get your Jesus on. You knew I was going to bring this up, right? Well I did, and I’m completely serious. You cannot be depressed if you’re filled with Christ’s love and God’s grace. Unfortunately I don’t technically know this for a fact since I’m admittedly still struggling with it myself–but the logic exists, does it not? It’s tempting sometimes to think God is ignoring you–but when no one else is “getting it”, God sees you and hears you and loves you more than anyone else ever could. His power picks up where we leave off–so pray. Do whatever else you feel like you need to do, but pray. Straight from your heart, and be so bold as to ask God to heal you because He sure enough will. True story, no lie. Look back on this time in your life as an experience that God will ultimately use for a grander purpose–even if we might never understand it.
And to back all that up, here’s a bible verse or 4. Fine, sure, they’re a little cheesy–but I like them a lot better than “Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the mouth.” And I know people can find a verse in the bible to support pretty much anything, but there’s not much room for debate on these ones in particular. God makes it very clear:
Isaiah 41:13–For I am the LORD, your God, who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you.
Isaiah 55:8-9–“My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts,” says the Lord. “And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine. For just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so my ways are higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts.”
Romans 12:12–Rejoice in hope, be patient in trouble; and keep on praying.
Hebrews 13:5-6–For He Himself has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” So we may boldly say: “The LORD is my helper; I will not fear. What can man do to me?”
Okay here’s the late disclaimer: these are just some things that I found–and still find–keep me on an even keel emotionally. They can’t hurt, but since your mind is a part of your body and your body can get sick, that means when you’re suffering from a mental illness you are sick–not as in sick-freak kind of sick, but sick as in it’s-imperative-that-you-seek-help-from-a-doctor kind of sick. Don’t try to handle it alone–but do your part by taking basic care of yourself.
And to you who probably knows who you are, I love you and I hope you feel better soon.