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Donn King


Things that help when I'm depressed

I deal with smiling depression. “Smiling depression” is a term for someone living with depression on the inside while appearing perfectly happy or content on the outside. While not a specific official category, it is recognized as common among people living with depression.

Though not driven by circumstances (depression can rear up at any time regardless of what is going on in life), I have found a few things that help me deal with it when it appears.


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    1. Let it happen.

    I don't try to fight it. That's just like trying to get a puppy to go away by pushing it away. It just comes on that much more strongly.

    2. Make it an object of mindful meditation.

    Sitting with it without judgment ("I shouldn't be feeling this way") means to simply experience it.

    3. Go for a walk.

    I have neuropathy and arthritis, making it hard to simply walk. (That's sort of depressing all by itself, since I used to hike all over the Smoky Mountains and walk for miles around town. I can no longer do that.) It still helps the depression to get outside, or even to go for a slow walk inside the shopping mall when the weather is bad.

    4. Drink coffee.

    Slow sipping is best. It's the sensory experience that help the depression, not the caffeine.

    5. Clean a small part of the house.

    When I'm depressed, I don't feel like moving. At all. Just straightening up whatever is in arms reach, taking it slowly, eventually helps.

    6. Eat something.

    Something simple, requiring little or no fixing. This is not stress-eating. It's just another sensory experience. Slowly eating a few spoons of cottage cheese helps, and requires no real fixing. Two or three spoons of peanut butter the same.

    7. Sleep.

    It's hard for me to tell the difference between depression and exhaustion, and I wrestle with both. Whichever one it is, sleep helps address it.

    8. Visit a friend at the coffeehouse.

    No clock, if possible. Ideally, a talkative friend. I don't even feel like talking, but listening to someone I care about raises my own mood.

    9. Tell my wife.

    When she knows that's what I'm dealing with, she is incredibly supportive, and also wise enough to know it's not helpful to tell me to cheer up or offer other completely useless advice.

    10. Give it time.

    Perhaps the greatest wisdom I have learned in life: this, too, shall pass.

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