It is an indescribable pain growing somewhere inside your torso. You can’t even understand where it lives, but you feel it pushing down on your stomach, reaching up inside your rib cage, and tightening around your windpipe. Your stomach feels sick, your throat feels like its closing, and the heavy pain inside you pulls you down to the ground.
It hurts too much to breathe. It hurts too much to be alive.
And the knowledge that it is winning and you are failing yourself and everyone around you is almost enough to end you.
But you don’t let it kill you. Not this time anyway. You take one more breath, and then another. And you try to find a way back up.
I am not new to this depression drill. I have been struggling with depression and anxiety since my first pregnancy thirteen years ago. Medication and a good psychiatrist keep me relatively balanced, but I am always living with depression and anxiety. And there are days and weeks when the depression hurts and overpowers me and I end up hiding under the covers, hating myself.
But eventually, I must get out of bed.
Yes, I do sometimes give myself a mental health holiday and self-medicate with a Netflix binge for a day or two. But as badly as I may think I want to quit life and become a professional Netflix addict, I know that the only way to get better is to get off the couch.
This last week my depression had been gaining strength until it finally wrestled me into submission a few days ago. That is the brutal twist of depression that is triggered by self-hatred and “I am not good enough” syndrome. The more depressed you get, the more you hate yourself, and so on and so on, until you are lost in its vortex.
WHEN DEPRESSION HURTS
So, what do I do when depression hurts–throws me down and counts me out?
I do something—anything, really. The key is to get moving and get back to healthy activities.
Today, I went for a few walks with my dog, I made a phone call to a friend, and I wrote this post.
If you are battling depression and anxiety, please don’t give up. There are so many of us out there fighting along with you.
You are not alone. You are not the only one who feels like a failure. And you will not feel like this forever. (Yes, your depression may never be cured, but good days will come again, even if the bad days come back too.)
If you are suicidal, please call a suicide crisis line or go to your local emergency room. If you can’t get to the hospital, call 911. Please.
If you do not have a good doctor who understands you and mental illness, don’t give up looking for one. Ask your friends or your family doctor for a referral. Many of us need medication to survive and there is NO shame in getting the help your body needs.
If you are in a safe place and not in immediate danger and you need help to get yourself moving again, here are some things that I do when I feel like I can’t do anything.
10 Things to do When Depression Hurts
1. Go for a walk
This is my go-to medicine every day of my life, especially if I am struggling.
Fortunately, I have a dog that forces me to go for multiple walks a day, and the fresh air and exercise always make things at least a bit better.
If the thought of “exercising” seems way too much when you are depressed, try going for a short walk. It may be just the little start that you need.
2. Listen to music
Music can save a life.
Whether you are just having a rough day or your depression is at its peak, try turning on some music.
You may need something mellow and soothing, or maybe you need a fun, upbeat playlist that will get you in the mood to move. I am so grateful for all the artists in the world who have given us soundtracks for our lives.