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How I Prioritize Dealing With My Depression

We are all so busy in our daily lives that sometimes we do not take the time to slow down and look after ourselves enough. At least that has been my experience, especially over this past year.

Putting our health on the back burner

Even tending to physical illnesses takes a back burner when caught up in the hustle and bustle of life, and in my case, searching for work at the same time.

So, if we are avoiding or postponing doctor's visits and neglecting ourselves physically, it should not be a surprise when we do that emotionally as well.

I don't have time to be depressed

I tell myself that I don't have time to be depressed. I try to put my mental health aside to "get on" with life and all the things on my to-do list.

I have never written "deal with your depression" on my list. But I think I should – and I should probably put it right at the top.

Prioritizing mental health

Why should I prioritize my mental health? Because putting aside thoughts of depression does not make it go away. It simmers. It builds. Then it starts to boil over and eventually creates a mess on the floor.

I do not always end up in a heap on the floor. But figuratively speaking, there is certainly a mess if we do not tend to our mental health and emotional wellbeing.

Avoiding mental health meltdowns

Some people call them "meltdowns." And I have had my share.

I think they should be avoided if possible. Yes, it is a temporary relief to let it all out – the tears, the screams, or a combination of the two. I like to call it "scream crying" when things get especially bad.

Instead, I think we should regularly make depression a priority.

Taking our emotional temperature

We can do that by checking in with ourselves and asking how we are doing just as we may ask our friends or family members the same. It is kind of like taking our emotional temperature.

A quick "how's the day going?" to ourselves and taking a few minutes to think of an honest answer is a good start.

What if the answer is "not so great"? Something is brewing – be it fatigue, lack of motivation, feelings of overwhelm and/or despair, and all the other emotions that go along with a major depressive disorder diagnosis.

It may sounds cliché, but concentrating on breathing, trying to calm our minds, and resting a little may give a respite, even if tried for only a short time each day.

Phone a friend

When my depression takes hold, I phone a friend. Remember the game show "Deal or No Deal" and the option to phone a friend?

In my case, I have 2 friends that I turn to. It is important to know who is going to want to listen to a depressed person and who would rather have a root canal. Personally, I try to ensure that I do not overburden other people to the point they run away. However, I also try to find other things to talk about with these particular friends – mutual interests, memories, fun times, and happy thoughts.

But I know that if I pick up the phone on a bad day, they will listen and offer support. Reaching out is another way to look after ourselves.

Using music to cope with depression

I also cope with depressive struggles with music. Music has always been essential to me – whether listening to my favorite bands (go 80s! go 70s progressive rock!), playing clarinet in bands (which I stopped during COVID and should pick up again), or singing in a local choir that performs solely rock music.

I joined the rock choir at an extremely low point in my life after seeing an ad on social media promising "healing through music." Though I was not coping well with my depression during that period, I got out of my comfort zone and attended my first rehearsal.

Finding a community

The room full of strangers had a lot of like-minded people looking for company, healing, and camaraderie. A bonus was that they sounded really good!

When COVID suspended that for a few years, I was again mentally spiraling. Last fall, I removed myself from my solitary existence at home and nervously re-joined.

Of course, not everyone is into music, but this prioritization can apply to other hobbies and activities. Why not take a few minutes each day to try something you like, to focus on something that you previously enjoyed doing that you may have abandoned or back-burnered because of depression?

Getting help from a mental health professional

Another way to make your mental health a priority is seeking help – whether it is through your medical doctor for a referral or a counselor, psychologist, or other professional.

Not all counselors or therapists are the same. It is crucial to find one you can trust and to whom you can confide. I found support this way years ago and never regretted it.

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This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.