Coming out of a Depression Episode

There is a tendency for family and friends (and us too) to think that once we come out of a depression episode, life is fine and we are back to normal. After all, we look alert, we are happy and chipper, we talk about what needs to be done, and we can get things done. So….all is well, right?


We are out of the depression episode,
but our world has not righted itself yet.

We are not depressed, so that’s good. But our lives are NOT in order. Infact they are probably in quite a mess. When I come out of depression, here are some of the things I have to deal with:

  • I’m not entirely sure where my paycheck is. It is probably in an envelope somewhere in the kitchen, or living room, or near the computer. Or in my handbag, or the stack of paper on a table. Well, it’s probably in the house somewhere. I should find it and deposit it in the bank.
  • Not all of my bills have been paid. My electricity bill hasn’t been. In fact, I’m not sure where the electricity bill is (see item above). Same with the cable bill.
  • Wash the dishes. Put out garbage. These haven’t been done in about 2-3 weeks and it’s…ugly. I have become very good friends with chlorine bleach.
  • Is my credit card unpaid or is my bank overdrawn again? Because I didn’t deposit the paycheck that’s somewhere in my house. I need to check.
  • Contact the place I work to tell them I’ll be out again soon. This is never a pleasant conversation, and they know I have depression episodes. Plan what day I’ll return. I always dread that first day back to work, even though it’s never so bad.
  • List the most important tasks and projects I was involved with. For each of them, try to see which ones can be restarted and which should just be abandoned. Abandoning projects is pragmatic, but it’s also upsetting and takes a bit of myself each time I do it.
  • Get ready to start back on my diet. I’ve added on somewhere between 2-8 pounds. Losing 2-8 pounds will take me 3 weeks to about 3 months. I have to do this again!
  • Get in touch with my family and friends, one by one. That would be a good thing to do since they haven’t heard from me in the last two months. Some might be a bit upset that I have been out of touch.
  • Oh yeah. Do laundry. If I’m going to be meeting people, clean clothes would be nice.
  • Try to repair the relationship with my partner. Marriage / dating relationships take a big hit during a depression episode and I need to spend time on repairing those too.
  • Bathe the dogs. Soon. They need trimming too, but that’s less critical.
  • Weed and trim the garden. It’s become overgrown. The ants and aphids are out of control again, so I have to spray for them too.
  • Buy laundry soap, house cleaning stuff, shaving cream, etc.. Since I’ve emptied the house of everything during the depression episode, this is usually a big ticket grocery trip.
  • Reorganise my weekly schedule. At the moment, although I am doing well mentally, I am feeling scattered because it’s been quite a while since I’ve had a regular ordered day.
  • Sort out my task list. I have only 82 incomplete items listed on it.

You get the idea. It just goes on and on. Every single thing has to be put in order. And a lot of the tasks are time consuming – it take a few hours to sit and think about setting back up a weekly schedule. Try fitting that in while rushing around trying to straighten out the rest of undone stuff. Especially if everything takes longer than it needs to because you keep on having to do things like spending twenty minutes finding the electricity bill.

It takes me at least 2-4 weeks before
I feel as if I have a handle on my life again.

I might no longer be depressed, but don’t really expect me to be back in action for another two weeks please. If you know me, it would also be nice not to place extra demands on me while I’m restarting my life.

So if you are thinking “Oh good, you are feeling better, so now you can….” – yeah, don’t do it.

I never get used to starting over.

You might think that after starting over each time after depression for 15 years, I’d have a handle on it. Frustratingly, no. Depression really really unravels everything, so that preventative systems that should be easy to set up and maintain just stop working when I am depressed. They just fall apart. Completely.

So I am obliged in each post-depression period to fix and set up the same systems over and over again.

Knowing how much stuff needs to be fixed can be overwhelming

Worse, if the depression episode is bad, the my realisation of the sheer amount of stuff that is needed to recover from depression episode can itself trigger another depression episode. This has happened to me and further extended the length of a depression episode and made things even worse. Thankfully this does not always happen.

So usually, I’m annoyed at having to fix the same things again, for the one zillionth time. And I feel a bit scattered because my schedule hasn’t quite settled down yet. And I’m guilty about the things I’ve failed to do and people I’ve let down. And I’m wondering when I’ll start back to exercise. But mostly, I’m just happy to not be depressed.

minor update 21 Jan 19
first published 28 Nov 12

Some help, please
Articles like this need your input. In the comments below, can you:
1. Tell me what happens to you that I did not write about.
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3. Tell me what I should write about that you would like to know.
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Looking forward to your help.

5 thoughts on “Coming out of a Depression Episode

Add yours

  1. I really hate that feeling when you “wake up” from a depression, and see all the undone things.. And all the extra things that must be done then. But I suppose I’m kinda lucky. Whenever a depression is over it’s a matter of hours, before I get hypomanic. My friends make lots of (friendly) jokes about I don’t just clean my home; I disinfect it. I’ll even pull apart pipes and clean them on the inside.
    When I’m done cleaning and taking care of all the stuff however, thats when it starts to become a hazard to people around me.

    It’s good you are out of the depression. I hope it doesn’t become too much for you, despite how frustrating it is.


    1. Am amused by your description. How does it work having such super rapid mood changes? How many things become undone in just a few hours? Or do they just look undone through the following mania lens?


      1. In some ways it works very well. I can sit with a razor blade or bottles of pills in front of me, seriously considering suicide. Within an hour I will feel fantastic and clean my home from top to bottom. Or disinfect my home as my friends call it, haha.
        So from considering suicide and to having everything cleaned and done, it will take about 4 – 6 hours. Depending on the lenght of my depression. But no more than 6 hours.

        My extremely rapid moodchanges “saves” me from my depressions. I honestly don’t think that I would be alive without them. However, I do get negative effects from this.
        But I get even more manic from getting done within those hours. “OMG, I’m done this fast, this is great, wow I’m amazing and quick”, etc. I will often go to the gym for 2-3 hours then, and I will still be all hyped afterwards. That’s when I start to do crazy stuff.

        So I personally don’t feel anything negative about it. I feel awesome. But my family is concerned of course, and I do get hallucinations. Luckily I have parents that will bring me home to ‘keep an eye on me’. They live in the country. Which means I can’t just get into town and start arguments, fights, end up drunk somewhere, etc. When I’m at their home I will use my manic mood to clean their house, walk their dogs, ride the horses, fix fences, etc. Instead of ending up in heavy drinking, fight, doing drugs, stealing, etc.

        There are good things about rapid moodchanges. I don’t need to get those weeks of ‘recovery’ like you do (no offence meant). And no risk of going right into a depression again. I will quickly make up for the depression I was in.
        However, I will quickly get out of control. Aswell as I will quickly go from being hypomanic to depressed. And I will miss the manic state so much it makes me even more depressed.

        It became a longer post than expected. But I can’t really cut anymore off it, even tho I tried.


  2. Oh god, yes, THIS. Getting back up to cruising speed after the boat stops sinking takes so much work. It’s really frustrating – all this stuff to catch up with, and still falling behind despite making better progress because there’s so much backlog.


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