How to Not Fall Down - A Checklist
The year 2023 was a strange year for several things happened. But the most painful one of them was being away from everything I was used to for around seven months.
Away from work, away from usual hobbies. Even the joyful writing or enjoying a nice movie didn’t feel joyful anymore, away from plans and people. Most of the time was spent in bed. There were many times of despair. I thought that that was it.. getting back to my ‘normal’ everyday life seemed so far away and sometimes even not possible anymore.. for the past 2-3 years, I was struggling with constant unexplained tiredness.. at least once or twice each week I can’t get out of bed, sometimes I thought maybe just a cold, and after a couple of days I usually get back to normal, then after few days fall again, and come back and so on.
Until last April, I woke up several days, couldn’t get out of bed, felt tired all day long, I thought it’s the usual, maybe I’m just too tired and needed rest. But this single memorable time, I couldn’t get back out of bed; two days passed, three days, one week, two weeks, but nothing changed.
I went to visit a doctor in the meantime, and after several checks, I got diagnosed with major depression. The doctor tried to make me aware of the situation and solutions and that it might take some time to recover. I thought maybe a couple more weeks or so? She said no, it might take months…
After treatment for the past months, finally recently started to see more signs of improvement. I won’t bore you with more details on how it feels to be in depression. I think the internet is full of such information. but what I learned is that the more it goes without treatment, the worse it becomes and the harder it is to heal.
In this post, I wanted to focus on what to do and what not to do to avoid it, just as a self-reminder and just in case someone else gets any useful ideas from it.
Overwork: I had a bad work habit for years; I kept working and pushing until I crashed, then recovered, repeated, and so on, not just in my day job but also in my free time activities, learning new things, etc. That was more than ok when I was in my early twenties. But it seems harder now and obviously led to this end. so we need a different strategy, and the mindset of avoiding overworking - instead of pushing to tell you to get what you want to be done - was a totally new mindset to me. Although it seems intuitive.
Take breaks: make sense, right? surprisingly I didn’t really consider to take systematically breaks till just several years ago, until a friend noticed that once and asked me about. somehow it clicked to me, in a normal work day I just had random breaks whenever I just needed to visit the coffee machine, or agreed with friends in the office to go out for lunch or so, other than that, I didn’t even think about.. bad thing. also, avoid doing lots of things in the evening; having time to wind down is very important.
Workout: Yeah, you know that.
Body stretching: I learned that the body muscles keep the stress you deal with during the day, keep that up for several years, and the body starts to crash. Add to that, sitting in front of a computer the whole day. Keep stretching a daily routine.
Journal: before having this experience, I used to write a lot each week. I was working on a first draft of a novel, a project that had to stop; since then, the joy of writing has also gone. But I needed instead to write about what I actually felt that day, and the boring daily routine, etc. Somehow, this type of writing helps, in the long run, to clean out frequently any bad thoughts.
Meditation: or any spiritual activity you prefer, a bit similar to the journaling effect, but also clears the mind and adds a sense of peace.
Talk about what you feel/experience with a trusted partner/family member/friend, not that they need to do anything. Most people won’t know what to do except to advise you to visit a doctor/therapist or maybe useful ideas here and there if you are lucky, but just the act of organizing your thoughts is the most important aspect of it. And It shouldn’t be too surprising to see some people aren’t able to understand your circumstances, but that’s also ok.
It’s tremendously important to remember that 99.9% of the problems aren’t the end of the world, although it seems like it sometimes, and in some cases, most of the time.
Self checkin / being constantly mindfulness of what you are thinking about and what you feel, once you notice a negative thought, you have to stop, consider it, organize it, and let these ideas pile up.
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