There are small things you notice are back after you’ve suffered a depressive episode. I don’t always notice they’re gone, because I’m not really in a good enough head space to think about the good things. But when they’re back I’m always like: Huh. I haven’t enjoyed that in awhile.
Sometimes it’s things like hanging out with friends. I’m lucky in that I have running buddies who – even when I’m spiraling and untrained – will still reach out for walks and such to force me out of the house. But I know when I am struggling I often decline invitations for social encounters left and right and only realize I’ve done it when I’m feeling better and am out in public again thinking: Oh, yeah. People! They’re not so bad!
This weekend I took some time to remove some old chipped nail polish and clip my toenails and moisturize my feet before bed. As I was rubbing lotion into my heals I was thinking this is something that I never do when I’m feeling depressed. I mean, me NOT doing it is not a sign of depression because I’m also kinda not always thinking about that kind of stuff, but I 100% never do it if I’m in a spiral. But last night I was enjoying the self-care time before bed.
I know Amy and Heather have written about this phenomena too, which is probably why I’m so acutely aware of it. It also feeds into what most of us who suffer from mental health disorders often preach: Self care is not a CURE for mental health disorders if you are suffering so much you can’t even bring yourself to do it.
Yes. Taking some time to give myself a Zoot-level pedicure made me happy but I 100% would have not done it in my spiral. Yes, walking with friends makes me happy but it takes them dragging me out of the house when I’m in a spiral. (Get yourself some friends who will drag you out of the house.) Showering and getting dressed in clean clothes is great but 100% not something you want to do when you’re depressed.
I’m trying to be more in tune with myself now, so that I can spot earlier signs of my spirals. My mental health has really only been something I’ve been treating during the last 5 years, mainly as I felt like I was struggling too long after my Dad died. I’m still very new to my own personal indicators so every time I notice a new one I make a note. (Kim, If you notice you’ve left that gross nail polish chipping away for too long, maybe it’s time for a therapy session.)
I don’t do talk therapy constantly simply because It requires commitment I don’t always have. I did make an appointment recently though just because it’s about to be summer time and I really have some goals over the summer and I want some help focusing and staying in a good headspace for those goals. I also know that as the election season pushes on I’m going to struggle and so I want to make sure I’m really in tune with myself because my last major spiral was triggered by Donald Trump and his rise to candidacy and I just don’t know how I’ll survive his possible re-election.
So it’s all a type of maintenance. I’m going to talk therapy, I’m upping my yoga, I’m staying in tune with my personal self-care and making sure it’s not difficult to take those moments. The second I find it’s a big chore to even shower is when I really start paying attention because I am lucky – my anxiety and depression are very manageable and I don’t want to kick that gift in the face by ignore signs it needs managing.