If you’re anything like me, you’ve lived with depression for the majority of your life and may have begun to accept it as a normal aspect of daily existence. You have spent many days waking up, throwing on some sweatpants, eating something easy (or maybe not), showering (or maybe not) and watching TV until the 6 o’clock news reminds you that it’s probably time to eat something again. Let me tell you, although I’m probably not the first to do so, that depression is not a normal part of daily existence. At least, it doesn’t have to be. You can overcome this, or possibly feel a little bit less awful. Here’s how.
Accept that your life is not sustainable or enjoyable as it is
The first of the twelve steps in the AA program is to admit that your life has become unmanageable, and that’s essentially what you’re doing here. The mountains of dirty laundry, the cancelled plans and even the unwashed hair: all of this is not sustainable. You cannot continue your life like this if you wish to be a happy, fulfilled person (which I know that you do). You aren’t enjoying living life like this, so why not start creating a life that you will enjoy? It may seem impossible, but by admitting that your current depression is not sustainable, you’re taking the first step to making a change.
This is the most useful thing that I have ever done in my recovery from depression. The act of telling someone about your struggles forces you out of your shell and whoever you tell, be it a friend, a parent or a relative, will be your pillar throughout your recovery. They will be able to hold you accountable and they will listen to your tears, your whining, and all of your difficulties. Make sure that the person you’re telling is someone you can trust to understand what you’re going through.
Invest in therapy, counselling or guidance from a mental health professional
Things will not get better unless you make the effort, and part of this effort is finding a professional who will be able to help you through the recovery process. Therapy is a major investment—the amount of money that you put in may seem ridiculous, but when you leave your session each week, you will see that the benefit of therapy highly outweighs the cost.
Get out of the house at least once every day
Getting out of the house is good for both your body and your soul. The vitamin D and fresh air that you’ll be receiving will rejuvenate your mind and allow you to fully appreciate your life as it is. As you go outside, take in the small details—the blades of grass, the rays of sunshine, the drop of dew—and remember that you’re part of a much larger universe.
Find an enjoyable exercise and do it once a day
Exercise is an important part of building a routine for yourself. At the same time, building a light exercise routine allows your body to function well.
Eat good food that will nourish your body and your mind
If you don’t nourish your body properly, your mind won’t be healthy, either.
Keep your surroundings neat and tidy
Part of the insidiousness of depression is that it leaves your surroundings in a whirlwind of mess, a mess that overwhelms you and keeps you in the depths of your depression. To combat this (I know you don’t want to hear it), you have to clean up all the soiled laundry and dirty dishes. Having a clean house will help you to organize your life, allowing you to move on and reach your full potential.
Find something you enjoy to occupy your time and keep your mind on the positive side of life
You need to find something else to occupy the place in your life that depression once held. I recommend something that will fill up a lot of time and create a routine in your day, such as volunteering.
Practice mindfulness around every single thing that you do
Part of depression is that it saps you of your ability to be mindful. Try mindfulness meditation to get this ability back.
Find a higher purpose
To live a meaningful life, you must have a higher purpose. Be this God, your family, or a goal that you have—anything that adds meaning and direction to your life is an important aspect of letting go of depression. Hold onto it, and don’t let it go.
So here are tips that you need to begin overcoming your depression. I know because I use them myself. You don’t have to live this way anymore. You’re one with the universe, no matter how small you may believe yourself to be, and you have the power to take back your life from mental illness. Everything you need to create a better life for yourself is inside of you: now use it.
This article was first published here.