January is rife with depression triggers—holiday let down and fewer days of sunlight—and I’ve added a few of my own, including job hunting and a resolution to write more. I’m also still juggling the kid, house and dog responsibilities; we won’t even talk about the car getting rear-ended.
Yesterday, I found myself in that dangerous downward spiral, the one that leads to spending the day huddled under the covers, hoping the world will just go away. I call it “the death spiral” and I know if I don’t reverse it, like an ice skater, I’ll be at the bottom pretty quickly.
I used a few methods to get my mood back on an upward trajectory. Maybe one will work for you.
- Get outside.
There are about two feet of snow in my back yard; I hate snow so I haven’t been out there in weeks. I was more afraid of being depressed than getting cold, though, so I bundled up and took the dog out with me. He nearly fell over with excitement. I got to check on the rabbit damage in my gardens: a lot in the new shade bed, nothing in the new veggie garden (Yay, expensive fencing). The sump pump ejector has been an issue, but it’s working fine. Scratch one worry off the list keeping me up at night.
- Write it out.
Getting the negative stuff out of my head and on to paper leaves more room for positive thoughts. Granted, what I wrote was pretty dark, but I wrote it only for me. I’m familiar enough with my own darkness that it doesn’t scare me anymore. That doesn’t mean my husband or kids are, so I keep my journals off limits. After my literary catharsis, I was able to produce some work I didn’t hate on a fiction project.
- Talk it out.
I’ve joined a secret Facebook support group of women with issues. It’s a safe place where I can share setbacks, frustrations and problems with others facing similar challenges. It’s also a place to celebrate triumphs, no matter how small. I got great encouragement to get back in the fray with my depression.
- Take a nap.
I had insomnia the night before, always a huge trigger for me. I slept a little after getting my daughter off to school and again in the afternoon before heading off to work. It (eventually) worked. I was able to get through four hours of teaching in a really good mood.
Today, I feel lighter and brighter. It probably helps that I shoveled the snow off the window wells covering the only source of natural light in my basement office. I’m ready to tackle the job applications and dreaded fiction writing. I’ve already dealt with the rear-ended car and insurance agent.
How about you? What do you do to stop your own death spiral?