Depression can be like a tremendous weight, keeping you down so you don't want to function. Sometimes, it's a constant battle with oneself to get up, get ready and get dressed every day. Life has a way of piling stuff on us, and it is our job to un-freeze our bodies and keep going during even the most difficult of times. Don't give up on yourself for having depression, it is possible to increase your energy and drive. It just takes finding out what solutions work best for you specifically.
Having battled very severe depression for most of my life, I know first-hand about the strong urges to sleep, to do nothing and just vegg out in front of TV. Been there, done that. We all need “mental health breaks" from time to time, to re-charge ourselves. This is about the kind of apathy that affects everyday functioning, and the ability to do everyday tasks in life. The severely depressed often feel unable to do anything, and let themselves go mentally and physically. It takes energy to take care of oneself, and even small tasks can be a burden when you're depressed. When you don't participate in life, it feels harder and harder to function, and the more you put off connecting to others. Strong apathy is a wake-up message to work harder and perservere. The way I look back at my own life, it was either give up or get going. I chose to get going. It takes hard work, but is most definitely worth the effort. If I can do it, so can you.
Every day, push yourself to do one more task than you normally do. It's your choice, but choose projects that aren't too hard to accomplish. In time, build up to harder tasks as your confidence grows. Think of what you want to do and work on achieving your goals, one step at a time. Write it all down, if you like. I kept a diary, documenting everything that I did to keep track of my progress. It worked, and kept me motivated. One by one, tasks are accomplished and it feels good. The more you do it, the more those good feelings and confidence grow, like a snowball rolling down a hill, gathering momentum as it goes.
Don't overanalyze or judge situations that upset you. Minimize the drama in your life. A family member of mine is very high-strung and finds things to worry about that aren't there. She works herself into a frenzy by overjudging everyone, and being around her can really be exhausting. It is best to limit your exposure to people who consistently bring you down or stress you out. Take situations and problems at face value. Don't read into them, just accept the reality of each issue as you experience it (don't pretend it doesn't exist or waste energy thinking how things “should" be. ) It takes practise to accept some problems as they are. Thinking too much about everything drains personal energy and makes you tired. When depression is strong, that is when energy is needed the most. Preserve it by training your mind to minimize drama and criticism in your life.
Simplifying matters helps for coping with problems. Instead of looking at a problem as a big, unsurmountable task; break it into smaller and more manageable ones. Write important appointments down and don't just commit them to memory. Be as efficient with your energy as you can, since it can be a precious commodity when you have depression. When I get a burst of energy, I do housework. One task at a time. When really motivated, I clean the whole apartment, in an organized and methodical manner. It feels good to get something accomplished. Build on that energy, bit by bit. Exercise, whether it's housework or jogging, produces endorphins, or “feel good" chemicals in your body. By moving, you are helping yourself, more than you realize.
Work on fighting negative inner thoughts that plague you. Fight it by thinking of a positive statement, for every negative one you think to yourself. It is what therapists teach, to counteract the negative self-talk. It does work, but takes time. Affirmations; short positive statements, are helpful in working on destroying those inner gloomy thoughts. Practise positivity and in time, those negative thoughts may lessen.
Do whatever it takes to fight the “frozen" feelings of depression. We all have good and bad days. Go with the flow, and ride the fluctuation like a wave. Just realize the feelings of apathy are there then let them go. It takes persistence. Being very stubborn, I have spent my life practising these techniques, and am very high-functioning for someone with such strong depression inside. My mood is calm now, and there is a large amount of peace in life now. It took learning how to deal with tough times, and not to freak out when they occur. It's all about being good to yourself. Inner peace feels great. Life is good, and getting better all the time. You can do it. Just believe in yourself and never stop working to improve your life. Make happiness happen.
Carolyn McFann is a scientific and nature illustrator, who owns Two Purring Cats Design Studio, which can be seen at: http://www.cafepress.com/twopurringcats . Educated at the Rochester Institute of Technology in New York, Carolyn is a seasoned, well-traveled artist, writer and photographer. She has lived and worked in Cancun, Mexico, among other interesting professional assignments in other countries. Clients include nature parks, museums, scientists, corporations and private owners. She has been the subject of tv interviews, articles for newspapers and other popular media venues.