Later On

A blog written for those whose interests more or less match mine.

Tips for the Depressed

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Though in fact, the tips offered seem to me to be good for anyone. n+1 has an excerpt from George Scialabba’s How to Be Depressed, out this month from the University of Pennsylvania Press. It begins:

THE PHENOMENOLOGY of depression is endlessly varied. Some of these tips may be useful to many readers; some to a few; some to none at all. If any of them helps lighten anyone’s suffering by a grain, it will be worth the effort. There is no authority behind any of these suggestions beyond my own long experience of depression and what I’ve gathered from reading about others’. I don’t think any of them are risky, but if you have any doubts, talk them over with partners, friends, caregivers, or fellow sufferers.


Waking Up

FOR MANY DEPRESSED PEOPLE—for me when depressed—waking up is the worst moment of the day. Emerging from unconsciousness, you are completely undefended. Sometimes there’s an instant of blankness and you wonder: is it gone, am I free? Then the horror seeps or surges back. Whatever strength you’ve gathered during sleep just seems to have amplified it. You’ve recharged the battery, but the static is louder than ever.

I don’t know what you can do about this, except be prepared for it. And see “Sleep” below.


Getting Out of Bed

A HIDEOUS ORDEAL. Probably the best way is to have an obnoxiously loud alarm clock on the other side of the room. It should have a “snooze” button, in case you crawl back into bed, as you probably will. At some point, perhaps after the third or fourth snooze, try to slip into the bathroom and splash cold water on your face.

You’ll know you’ve decided to stay up when you start shaking all over. Maybe you won’t, but I do. Just one semi-voluntary spasm after another for anything from five minutes to an hour. Take deep breaths, stretch, splash more cold water.

Years ago, somewhere or other, I read this advice: “The most important thing a depressed person can do is: Get dressed!” Curiously, it helps. Lying in bed seems like a natural response to agonizing pain, but usually the pain just gets worse. Maybe the few minutes it takes to make the bed, wash up, and put on clothes are enough to break some deadly mental circuit. Try.


Getting from One Room to Another

USUALLY CANNOT BE DONE with dignity. You will lurch, shuffle, careen. Your head will hang down, your shoulders hunch, you will be a slumping shambles. And when you get to the next room, you will discover that you forgot something you need in the room you just left.


How to Keep Your House from Becoming a Disaster Area

THIS IS STRAIGHTFORWARD: you pay someone to do it. Otherwise, forget it. After a while, depression is exhausting beyond words. Vacuuming, dusting, laundry, changing the sheets, washing the dishes, cooking, shopping—together these are as hard as running the Boston Marathon would be for the average out-of-shape non-depressed person. You will forget things, lose things, drop things, spill things, break things, run into things. Don’t be mad at yourself—remember, you’re being invisibly, silently, savagely tortured. You have a perfect right to let things go a bit.


Water

DON’T DEHYDRATE. Drink plenty of water, on a regular schedule. Don’t wait till you’re thirsty. Your urine should be pale, not vividly colored.

For some reason, being depressed burns up a lot of energy. Of course there’s no output—you don’t achieve anything—but your metabolism is racing. And you cry. Not enough water and you become slightly feverish and groggy. It’s very unpleasant, and it’s unnecessary. Fill three or four water bottles at the beginning of the day and put them around your house or workplace, where you can’t miss them. In cold weather, make yourself a lot of tea.


Food

EVERYTHING IS HARD when you’re depressed, even eating. And besides, you’re probably not moving around much, so you don’t build up an appetite easily. I always lose a lot of weight when depressed.

To minimize the damage, . . .

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

9 March 2020 at 4:57 pm

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