Just out of depression that started in full on the 7 Jun 12 and which I did not come out of until yesterday, the 14 Jul 12 (yes, I do keep records of a sort).
I’ve stopped looking for a cure, mind you – there is none. More importantly, for most of us the drugs will not be sufficient on their own to provide ongoing stability. What I’m looking to do these days is to manage the mood swings in such a way as to not get depressed.
Since my mania is well controlled, I don’t bother too much about it these days. But my depression episodes leave my unable to do anything. Therefore, these days, my goal is: “Do not get depressed”. Really.
This is a big deal since I fall into the category of people who find little relief from drugs. However, I had a good run of stability (ie, not depressed) from October 2011 to Easter 2012. Here’s what I think caused it.
I have a bunch of things I do – none of which fixes my mood swings, but each of which adds a little bit to stability. Let’s imagine the perfect solution as a 100% fix, and anything above 60% partial fix keeps me from being depressed easily. What I’ve realised is that things I do, like drinking coffee, contribute to the partial fix. So let’s say coffee contribute about 15% to a solution. Not enough on it’s own to stop me from getting depressed.
But then I go a walk every morning when I wake up (I got dogs). That contributes another 5% to a solution. And I take my antidepressant, which adds about 15% to a fix. And hanging out with friends on evenings adds another 10%. And so on.
I think in October 2011, I had added enough of these partial fixes that I crossed the 60% mark and I stopped getting depressed so easily. And suddenly life got much better indeed.
Some things things to note.
None of the things I did were more than a partial solution, not even the medication. I needed to do a lot of separate things to get at least up to 60% fix. If you’re managing your moods, you’ll probably have to determine what are the list of things you need to do to stay above the “won’t get depressed easily” mark.
Also, dropping any of the things you do, even for a few days, can drop you below the magical “won’t get depressed easily” mark. In which case you’re back to being vulnerable again.
You’ll probably still get depressed. But hopefully not as frequently. This is not a miracle solution.
Right – what are thing that work as partial fixes for me. They are, in no particular order:
- Coffee: In the morning and in the afternoon. I use double espressos either as caffe lattes or americanos. You shouldn’t need more than 3 a day, and you can probably get by with less.
- Getting out of the house on mornings when I wake up: This is NOT exercise, this is a walk around the block or something. The purpose is to (a) keep you from sitting in front of the computer or picking up a book or doing something that will prevent you from getting your day started, (b) provides a quiet time for you to collect yourself, and (c) allows you some space to kinda plan what the first few hours of the day will look like. Hopefully you’ll return home with enough energy to start doing stuff for the day.
- Breaking up the day into pieces – ie – not doing the same thing for more than 1-2 hours. The problem is that heavy concentration tends to “pull you in”, which is a state that can lead to depression. If you are at work, take a 10-15 minute break and get a coffee or go outside for a smoke or something (pretend you started smoking to get an excuse). If you are at home, break up you day into pieces so you are not doing the same kinds of things for more than 2 hours. Do NOT get caught behind a computer or in a book or in a game.
- Keep moving. My experience is that the times I’ve said “I’m tired, I need to do something mindless” are the times when I am most prone to sink into depression. Especially when the mindless things are television, ‘net surfing or facebook, or reading. If you want to be mindless, go for a walk instead. That’s why on evenings when I get home, I immediately drop everything off, and collect the dogs to go for a walk. Better in the park than on the computer.
- Going to the pub on evenings: For some reason this works. Apparently hanging out with friends makes you feel better enough to jump start you the following morning. Earlier this year, I was joking that I had a choice of waking up on a morning depressed or drunk (yes, I drink moderately). I actually don’t recommend the drunk part, but, well, you get the idea.
- Taking your meds. Don’t stop taking them. They probably do contribute some part to the total solution.
- Being aware of how you are feeling AND telling the people around you. You can learn to become aware if you are heading into a depression episode and if you do, you can head it off before it becomes too severe. Telling people how you are feeling allows them to help you out if you need it.
Obviously this is the short version and there is lots more than just a quick list. I’m planning to experiment over the next 3 months and blog about what I’m doing. We’ll see how that goes.