It’s easy for me to hide behind a computer screen and tell you that it gets better. To believe that it gets better – yet still wake up every morning with an unbearable sense of … dread. Exhaustion. Never knowing what’s going to happen, and trying to keep my head on straight, but never actually managing to keep myself from dissolving into a whirlwind of anxiety. (This is actually what my brain has felt like the past couple of months. Look inside and that’s probably what you’d see.)
It’s easy for me to write about depression and pretend it isn’t debilitating, to pretend that platitudes and promises somehow make it easier.
All that is easy. So this week I’m going to focus on things you can do. Things that get me through the worst days; things that will hopefully end up helping you, if only a little.
- I wrote about this last week, but find something you love and give your heart to it. The past couple of weeks I’ve been super into “Critical Role,” because it helps remind me that love is the strongest bond out there. (I’m a sap, I know, I’m sorry.) But with Critrole on hiatus now, I’m jumping headfirst into “Star Wars.” Every Wednesday my phone reminds me there’s a new “Brooklyn Nine Nine,” which gives me a little midweek boost. I’ve been too busy/stressed out to write, but my nameless sci-fantasy book series is still something that keeps me going. Lin Manuel Miranda’s weekday good morning/goodnight tweets. D&D with my best friends. Making my best friend laugh. Telling my dad I love him. Tiny, insignificant things, but they add up. They make a difference.
- Stay busy, but don’t push yourself to the brink. My mind and I don’t get along well when I’m being lazy, but we also don’t get along when I don’t have time to breathe. It might take a while for you to find out where exactly you land on this scale, so experiment! Try new things. If you’re bored, take up a new language. If you’re overwhelmed and at your breaking point, do something you enjoy. It’s OK if it’s stupid. It’s OK if the thing you enjoy is mindless, or meant for kids, or ridiculous. I mean, I play D&D in my parents’ basement. Ridiculous is my middle name. And that’s OK. It helps me decompress, so what’s the point in pretending?
- This is an important one. And not everyone will agree with me, but that’s OK. Some people will tell you that self-care is the key to treating depression, but I’m here to tell you it’s not. As much as I love #TreatYoSelf of “Parks and Recreation” fame, there comes a point where you have to do the hard thing and take care of yourself. Go outside. Listen to a little kid’s laughter. Don’t sit in your sorrow and grief. It’s OK to feel sad, and it’s OK to have off days, but you owe it to yourself to live your best life. If you need help, get it.
- Curate a survival pack. I can’t stress how important this is. Self-care is great, but sometimes you need a collection of things that, in a pinch, will inspire you, make you laugh, and give you strength to face the day. I have an entire tag on my blog for this.
That’s all for this week. I think I might make this into a series, because God knows we all need help every once in a while. So stay tuned, stay alive, and remember, I love you. You’re not alone.
Note: SMA News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of SMA News Today, or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to spinal muscular atrophy.