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?
- 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.
- Grieve over having this illness, if you need to.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Go outside. Look at the mountains, the river, the woods. Watch the birds. Breathe the air.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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)