There is one area of my life that has been difficult lately- it brings me to tears quickly and my mind fills with self-doubt. When I was suffering from anorexia and life was hard, I would act on my urges to restrict, purge, or compulsively exercise. My depression would be all-consuming. I would not go into work. I would stay in the house all day and I would stop all contact with others. My mind would be flooded with self-critical thoughts that I took as facts.
With consistent recovery treatment, medication management, movement and self-care, I am able to better manage my down days. I cannot even remember the last time I did not go into work and part of my job is to connect to people so isolation is difficult to pull off. And I surf the urges to engage in eating disorder behaviors if they come up, and thankfully the urges are few and far between.
However I’ve noticed that my depression disguises itself differently in my life now:
- I watch movies late into the night
- I shut down some communication with my partner
- I cry easily
- I sleep in
- I have trouble sleeping
- I do movement/exercise at home to isolate
- I will work more to distract myself
- My mind is flooded with automatic negative thoughts
- I feel a sense of numbness and despair
So what do I do?
- Become aware of my depression. Mindfulness is key to be in moment.
- Accept my feelings without judgement.
- Surf the waves of my feelings and thoughts
- Identify my behavioral changes and act opposite
Surf the waves/Act-opposite
- I watch movies late into the night —- I go to bed with my partner at 10pm
- I shut down some communication with my partner— I start conversations with my partner
- I cry easily — crying reduces stress hormones so I cry if I feel like it!
- I sleep in—I get up early and set small, manageable intentions
- I have trouble sleeping — practice sleep hygiene (i.e. use guided imagery, turn off “screens” 1 hour before bed)
- I do movement/exercise at home— go to a spinning class or yoga class to be with others
- I will work more to distract myself — engage in things that bring me pleasure (reading a book)
- My mind is flooded with automatic negative thoughts— talk back to my thoughts with wise mind statements
- I feel a sense of numbness and despair— I accept my feelings without judgement and surf the waves of my emotions, understanding that they are temporary
I suggest you make a list of what tells you that you are depressed (or anxious, sad, etc.)? And then I would counter them with DBT emotional regulation skills including opposite action and mindfulness of emotions.
We can recover one day at a time