One of the things I have learned over the last 30 years is that the environment a person is in is very important to their ability to deal with depression and depressive episodes.
Being in a messy, unkempt home, or a home in ill repair can help feed the depression. And let me tell you, depression is a greedy, greedy pig that will gobble up everything you can give it and a lot of things that you don’t.
Getting clean and organized can be the hardest possible thing when you are in the throes of a depressive episode. It’s one of the hardest things about recovery from depression.
Here’s a few things I found that helped me:
- Start small, on something that isn’t important to you or related to the cause of your grief and stress. For me, it was going cleaning, organizing and displaying my coffee cups. That’s right. Coffee cups. I pulled every single one of them out of the cupboard and hand washed them, to make sure they were clean. Then, I divided them into two groups: Ones I wanted to keep and ones I didn’t. If I was even remotely unsure, I kept it. In the end, I kept 42 out of 48 cups. The six I got rid of had chips or were from corporate parties. After I cleaned them and sorted them, I hung two long metal bars underneath the cabinet and hung my favorites on them with S-Hooks. The entire thing took a total of two hours and was easy to start, complete and do.
- Start a task with a specific goal in mind and don’t work on accomplishing any other goal except that goal. In the case of the coffee cups, it was a matter of getting them hung up on the wall. That was the end goal. Washing them and sorting them just helped soothe me as I went through the process.
- Don’t push yourself too hard. If you can’t throw away or give away 6 coffee cups because it gives you too much stress, then don’t. Separate them in the cabinet with the mindset that WHEN YOU ARE READY, you will give them away. Give yourself a clear deadline for it at the end of a task or on a specific date. Like, if you have to clean out the entire kitchen, when you are ready to donate everything in the kitchen that you aren’t using, you will donate those as well.
- Set one small task a day. Organize a drawer, or clean a shelf. Every day, even if you aren’t in the mood. Getting things done and doing them will improve your mood dramatically.
One of my major triggers is storms. Even though I have survived 40 years of tornado seasons here in Oklahoma, I still have major anxiety every time a storm hits.
I realize that I cannot control the weather. I know that there is nothing I can do about it, except let it happen and that’s the part that kills me. The lack of control. It’s not that I want to control the storms, either.
I am scared of taking my medication during the storms as it zones me out and I am terrified that I just won’t be able to get to a safe place quickly enough. I don’t want my judgement to be impaired.
So, one of the things that I decided to do, to help ease the anxiety and keep myself from having to deal with an extra crazy in my head during natural disasters, was install a storm shelter. Having a storm shelter on my property makes me feel like I have more control of the situation. I did a lot of research on them, because I wanted to make sure I had the right choice and the one I picked was from Tornado Safe. It wasn’t easy to choose, as there was so many small variations. In the end, it was the customer service that won me over. Anxiety filled people need to be soothed and tey did that.
Having the storm shelter in my garage makes me feel like I do have some control over my life, even in the unpredictable moments. Even though doing something like this may notbe the best thing in the world to do for anxiety, according to my therapist, it’s stopped my nightmares and fears every time it starts to rain. I set up a little cot down there and every time I get too worried, my dog Chief and I go to the shelter and sleep. It helps. Not just the feeling of being safe from the storm, but for the first time in many years I feel completely safe. There. I needed that and I think it will help me in the long run. Safety was something I needed more tan anything.
Depression is one of those topics that nobody really wants to talk about but everyone wants to experience. I don’t claim to know everything about it, but I can tell you what my experience with it is like.
I remember feeling like I wanted to die as early as age 8. Not die, in a physical sense, but be somewhere else, something else, someone else. I wanted, more than anything, to no longer be a burden to anyone. I wanted to feel the light of God in my boys and be innocent. I wanted to be a good boy and grow into a good man, living my life according to scripture and God’s word.
My mother’s illness affected more in that way than I ever imagined. The feeling of knowing that I was infested with eternal sin and evil by very nature filled me with dread. I knew that I would be struggling my entire life to be righteous but no matter what I did I would fall short and I didn’t want to fail.
For me, depression wasn’t a wave. It wasn’t one horrible event. It’s a long slow, drowning. A cold wentness that never relents and follows you around, whispering endlessly in your ears, making it so hard to hear anything clearly. It clouds your eyes and steals all the warm from your heart. It makes you doubt everything, everyone.
With depression comes anxiety and fear. People don’t like to talk about that, either. The anxiety part, I mean. Almost everyone who has depression feels the tick-tick-tick of anxiety as it eats through your life. It is a constant countdown to doom in your head. Looking into everyone and everything, waiting for the next thing to hurt you and constantly being on guard for it, for all corners, all the time. Knowing that it is coming and you can’t stop it is where the anxiety comes from. You start hoping it will happen, just to get the punches over with.
Removing that from your life is the key to stopping depression, in my opinion. Once the anxiety stops kicking, it stops feeding the depression and it makes it easier to be able to move forward.
Seasonal Affective Disorder causes stress to millions of people worldwide. The changes in the seasons, the holidays, the change in weather all affect people on a primal and very physical level.
The holidays can be a serious trigger for depression. I know they are for me. Relapse is one of my biggest worries during this time of year. Not seeing my kids, being alone… it is really hard. I don’t have a relationship with my family anymore because of their fundamentalist leanings. (After my first marriage and divorce, I was effectively shunned.)
I did get to see my kids for a few hours Christmas day, but it’s hard to deal with knowing that they have an entire life without me now and always will. I mean, I know that eventually they would grow up and be without me but I didn’t expect it to happen so young.
My wife told me she’s seeing someone. Ex-wife. It’s our first Christmas without being a family. I hadn’t expected her to start dating so soon, but it was inevitable. She’s the one who left, so I guess that’s normal for her to move on so fast.
It hurts knowing that I am replaced and that her new boyfriend will be sitting on my spot on the couch. Nothing I can do about it I guess. Just didn’t expect to be dealing with it so soon.
(written several days ago, but decided to put it here so that it doesn’t get lost.)
My name is Mike.
I am a 40 year old man who is divorced, three times. Due to my long term depression issues, I’ve been unable to handle a lot of things in my life. This blog is a way for me to be able to explore my journey from dark into the light and hopefully, I’ll be able to reach out to someone and help them as well.
A little bit about me.
I was raised in Central Oklahoma, on a small farm by my mother and her third husband. My mother had some pretty serious issues with drinking and as a result was violent and angry. She was verbally and mentally abusive to all of us-me and my six siblings. My stepfather was a good man, but was as helpless with her just as much as we were.
My family was extremely religious, which I believe is one of the reasons that I became so depressed at an early age. Fundamentalist religious sects can be damaging, as well as wonderful.
I got married at 17 to my highschool girlfriend when she got pregnant. She lost the baby, but we tried to make it work for another year before calling it quits. Sometimes I think about her and hope her life got better after she left me. My second wife and I met when I was in the service. It was sort lived, too. We met on my first day in Bahrain and got married three weeks later. I don’t know why I did it, other than it just felt so comfortable and normal. It turned into a nightmare quickly enough as she was an alcoholic and our drinking habits spiraled out of control until I was arrested for assaulting her. I am ashamed to admit that I did actually assault her. It was a low point in my life.
After my second marriage failed, I met my third wife in rehab. I had been separated from the service because of the assault and in the end, it felt like we both knew what it was like to live with demons. She was a good wife. We were married for 12 years but we grew apart. After two children, we separated and divorced. Here I am. Thee wives later.
I have no one else to blame but myself for my issues and pain and I hope that by the Grace of God and hard work, I can correct my past problems and become a better version of myself.