10 (Personal) Rules for Living With Depression


The start of a new year seems a good time for me to review and slightly modify the “rules” I first made for myself back in October. 

They are written based on the assumption that I’m going to keep on being depressed for a long time. I know that is a depressing assumption, but right now at least, it seems to be accurate. I haven’t been well for a long time, and honestly, I haven’t been well that much for the past 20 years. But that doesn’t mean I can’t find anything good in life, right?

  1. Recognize that for you, depression is a chronic illness that will sometimes be a great challenge than at other times but may well be with you for your entire life.
  2. Grieve over having this illness, if you need to.
  3. Make a list of the things that make you feel happy. Revisit this list every Sunday morning and make sure that at least a few of those things are on your calendar for the upcoming week. Change the list whenever you need to or whenever you find new things that make you happy.
  4. Make a serious commitment to your physical and mental health. Health comes before work, as hard as that is for you. You are the only one who can choose what you are going to do each day, each hour, to be as healthy as possible.
  5. Find some kind of exercise you enjoy and can sustain. This is a required part of your health plan. When you plan your calendar on Sunday, check to see how you will get your heart rate up for at least 30 minutes four or five days a week.
  6. Periodically reassess your support team. Are your therapist, psychiatrist, primary care doctor and any other doctor you are seeing providing you with care you feel confident in? If not, make the necessary changes; remember, they work for you.
  7. Go outside. Look at the mountains, the river, the woods. Watch the birds. Breathe the air.
  8. Take the time to make your home tidy and welcoming. Get help with this if you need to. Consider whether you can afford some help with cleaning once a month.
  9. Ask yourself: does your job bring you satisfaction? Is the workload reasonable? Do you enjoy work most of the time? If not, make the changes you need. This includes quitting and doing something completely different, if necessary. You are allowed to do that.
  10. When depression or anxiety dominate, don’t berate yourself. Go to bed if you need to. Lean on your husband and your therapist. Don’t be ashamed. It’s an illness, not a moral failing. If you can’t follow the other 9 rules, just love yourself as much as you can until you’re able to do more. It’s okay to be sick.

Wishing you peace and health in the new year.

CREDIT: Image by Stacey Hoffer Weckstein (2011)


  1. Swimming for me even though it’s such an effort and time consuming and if course not free. But I always feel good after a swim in the water. Ideally the sea bur alas I f9ntbl8ve near one.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. My keys for dealing with depression and anxiety:
    1: Coffee is not bad. If it makes you calm or alert when you need to be, then drink it. Your body works a bit differently to other people’s, so don’t be surprised when something that hurts them helps you.
    2: Go somewhere new. Wanderlust is normal and healthy. Not indulging it because you’re down or socially anxious could make things worse. Go somewhere you’ve never been, even if it’s just a street away or a field off the path.
    3: Cuddle. Pets, family, partner, a pillow or plush toy, even! Hugging is good and comforting.
    4: If you’re feeling paranoid, tell yourself that everything is OK, wander about the house, turn off all electronics and settle your mind before sleeping or resting.
    5: Cry if you need to. The hormonal release is amazing. Take teabags or coffee grounds, lemon juice and concealer with you to work or meets or parties, so if you need to let go you can cry in a private place and hide the evidence.
    6: You don’t need to justify your moods to anyone. But you should probably keep those close to you in the loop. They do worry.
    7: Paint, sculpt, play music. Even if you’re not any good at it.
    8: Avoid things that upset you unnecessarily. Don’t swaddle yourself, but what’s the point in looking up things that make you angry or sad? You need to embrace happiness whenever possible, not read about animal torture or political ignorance.
    9: Check your diet. Some people are affected by sugar, dairy, starches, grains or nuts and seeds. If you find yourself suffering more when you eat cheese, play it safe and don’t eat cheese. (I’m still working on this one myself, as the foods that make my depression worse also taste awesome.)

    Liked by 2 people

    • These are excellent. The “go somewhere new” is a huge one for me, actually. I love international travel in particular, and it seems to to wake up a curious and engaged part of my brain which in turns balances me out emotionally.

      I can’t cry though. I haven’t cried in years, actually. I think it would be a relief if I could.

      Thanks for sharing your list; it gives me a lot to think about.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I think there is a part of the brain that, with moodswings, just gets more and more active and basically demands to get away. Maybe we’re more sensitive to location-based stress and want to “migrate” away from our work, family worries and everyday inconveniences for a while? I dunno, but there’s probably a reason.

        Liked by 1 person

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