Surviving the Down Days: Lean on Your Support System

This is one of our many cats, Bodie.  Bodie is kindly providing an accurate visual depiction of my mood over the past several weeks. Yes, the usual gremlins (lack of motivation and sleep, unable to see beyond tomorrow, the why bothers, depression, low moods, “etcetera, etcetera, etcetera”) have made themselves quite at home, and I am so ready for them to move out! Unfortunately, that is often easier said than done.

So, as I wait out this latest attack of the doldrums, I thought I would share a few tips that typically help me survive these down days. I will focus on one tip per post because, honestly, that’s more or less the extent of my attention span at the moment. (As a reminder: I am not a medical or counseling professional. The information provided in this and future posts is based solely upon my own experiences with depression and low moods.)

Tip One: Lean on and be Thankful for Your Support System 

After experiencing a major depressive episode several years ago, I learned how important it is to have a strong support system. Today, as someone who battles low moods and occasional episodes of depression, I still feel the same way.  If you do not have a support system to lean on, I encourage you to find one as soon as possible. Whether it’s a health care provider, counselor, friend, family member, spouse, or pastor, please reach out to someone who can help you.  It will make a huge difference to your recovery and in maintaining a healthy future both mentally and physically.

I believe a successful support system (or support person) is made up of those people who are able to recognize when you are feeling down or depressed.  Ideally, they should be non-judgmental yet not an enabler.  It is also important that they know any treatment plan you are following and any appointments you need to keep. Depressed people are notorious for skipping doctor’s appointments and for not taking medicines as prescribed, especially when we get in that “why bother” cycle. It’s vital that there is someone in your life who can help you stay on top of these things and hold you accountable for the sake of your overall wellness.

Your support team should also be wiling to get you out of your cave regardless of how much you protest. We depressed folk almost always have a cave of comfort we retreat to – mine is the bedroom – yours may be the couch, den, cupboard under the stairs, or under a favorite blanket. Your support system should sense when you begin forming that seemingly unbreakable bond with your cave of comfort and insist encourage you to move, to get up, and to get out. This could involve going for a walk, enjoying a coffee or soft drink, going to a movie, or walking the mall; the point is by coercing you out of your cave, they are also helping you get out of your own head.

I also believe we (“the down or depressed”) should try to maintain an attitude of thanks towards those friends, family members, or spouses who have taken on the task of supporting us. It’s not easy trying to help a depressed person claw their way up from the well. Those closest to us typically bear the brunt of our sometimes unpleasant attitudes, bad moods, and constant negativity. No one would sign up for that unless they truly cared about you.  I understand it probably sounds trite, but you may be surprised how much your mood is lifted or improved if you allow some gratitude to push through those energy-sucking, negative thought patterns.

Again, these are merely my personal thoughts on what makes a good support system based upon my own experiences. In my next post, I will be discussing how important it is to keep moving through depression (cue the eye rolls!).  (I would say “in tomorrow’s post,” but, I know better than to make such promises when fighting off this frustrating funk.)

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