Sometimes depression creeps up slowly, other times it hits you like a tonne of bricks. Here are 10 signs that my depression is making a come back and things that I try to do to combat it.
1. Personal hygiene starts to slide.
I start skipping showers, stop brushing my teeth and hair, even getting clean clothes on is an effort. It’s like all this normal routine stuff just takes up too much energy which I don’t have.
SOLUTION: Sometimes I just have to force myself to take a shower, at least every second day. Even though it uses up what limited energy I have, I always feel better afterwards.
2. Increased anger.
I have less patience and become more easily irritated by little things that normally wouldn’t bother me. I am quick to lose my temper and then feel guilty about it afterwards.
SOLUTION: I try and take time to breathe and think about the real reason I’m getting angry. Is it worth it or is it something that I should just let go? Do I have a real reason for being angry or is this the depression clouding my judgement? Sometimes just stopping for a minute to re-evaluate helps.
3. Increased tiredness.
I have less energy, trouble getting to sleep and struggle to get moving in the mornings. Constant lethargy makes me feel drained an unmotivated.
SOLUTION: I try and stick to a regular bed time, usually around 9pm and I try and limit the use of the iPad in bed at these times.
4. Poor diet.
I yo-yo between eating too much or not eating at all. Sometimes I gain weight and sometimes I lose weight rapidly. I binge on chocolate biscuits and other junk food and then feel awful for it after.
SOLUTION: While there is nothing wrong with occasionally having something sweet to eat to make yourself feel better, when it becomes regular occurrence it can be problematic. I try hard to stick to my normal diet and only eat small snacks, usually fruit, instead of chocolate and junk.
5. Housework takes a back seat.
My house becomes messier and messier. I have zero motivation to clean anything. Even doing this dishes so I can cook for my family is hard. This one is a cycle because the more mess and clutter that is around the more depressed I become, the more depressed I become the more I can’t be bothered to tidy up.
SOLUTION: Break the housework down into small manageable chunks. One chore at a time, or one room at a time, with breaks in between. I sometimes write a list and tick things off as I have done them as it helps give me a sense of achievement which in turn can motivate me to do more.
6. Binge watching Netflix.
I’m sure a lot of people have spent an entire day binge watching a favourite show on Netflix. No problem with that at all, sometimes it’s actually good for you to have that down time. However, when that starts happening for days on end to the determent of other things that need doing, it does become a problem. It happens to me sometimes when my mood is low. I push things away that I don’t want to deal with and immerse myself in a show (or several) to escape the reality of what is happening.
SOLUTION: Use Netflix as a reward instead. Clean the kitchen, watch an episode. Put a basket of laundry away, watch an episode. Cook a healthy dinner, watch an episode. Take the kids to the park, watch an episode.
7. Becoming more recluse than usual.
I am very much a home body at the best of times, but when depression starts to kick in I become even more of a hermit. I start thinking friends don’t want me around, that I’m a burden. I think I’m bothering them and that they don’t want to talk to me because they have better things to do than hang out with me.
SOLUTION: I take time to myself when I need it but also try not to decline invitations to go out when they come my way. Deep down I know the thoughts I have aren’t true but it’s hard when your fighting with your own brain. Sometimes my brain can be pretty convincing.
8. Not talking.
Having a conversation feels like too much effort. I become quite and tend to keep my thoughts to myself. I stop communicating with the people closest to me. Sometimes this is because I can’t make sense of what is going on and therefore find it difficult to explain and sometimes it’s because I’m too tired and can’t be bothered talking.
SOLUTION: Writing, writing, writing. I get all my rambled thoughts out on paper. Sometimes I will show it to someone and sometimes I will throw it in the bin. If I can sort out what is going on through my writing and make some sense of it, it may become easier to explain to someone else, and sometimes even that might be done through writing.
9. Easily upset.
I find myself crying over even the smallest thing. I feel like I have all this built up emotion and suddenly it only takes something little to cause it to overflow in the form of tears.
SOLUTION: Don’t fight it. Sometimes a good cry is very therapeutic. Sometimes I like to put on a sad movie or listen to sad music and cry and often I will feel a bit better afterwards.
10. Becoming forgetful and absent minded.
I can’t think straight. I walk into a room to do something and forget what it was. I forget appointments and things I was meant to do. I sometimes forget to take my medication which obviously is not a good thing. I forget words when I’m talking to people. I go through the motions of my usual routine and can’t remember doing some things.
SOLUTION: I try and practice mindfulness. I try and be in the moment and keep my focus on what I’m doing now and not what has happened in the past or might happen in the future. I also write lists, lots of lists, of what I need to get done so I don’t forget. I keep a diary of important dates so I don’t forget appointments or thing I said I’d do.