Learning to Shut Down My Inner Critic and Keep Moving Through Depression
This is the third installment in my series on my struggles with depression. I’ve talked about using my capsule wardrobe as a coping tool, and I opened up about my experience accepting my diagnosis and getting help. First of all I need to take a second and say a deep, heartfelt thank you to everyone who shared those pieces, and to all the women who reached out to me in personal messages about their own experiences with depression and struggling to make themselves a priority. The loving reception these pieces received did more than I can really describe to you to help quiet the voice of my inner critic, and fuel my momentum to keep moving forward. So, thank you. The nastiest part of my inner critic is it keeps me from accessing the avenues for support that I already have available and could use at any time, if I just made a plan, and believed I was worth the effort. That’s what I want to talk about today, how using supports I already have available to me has been the key to gaining some momentum in the face of the inertia and inner critic of my depression. And by available, I mean literally immediately accessible, not like, manifest what you need with positive thoughts and a dream collage and the universe will provide blah blah blah. I’m being concrete here.
The day I realized I was truly depressed, I sat down and read about my diagnosis, and I started formulating a plan to cope and heal. I started with the basics. I made a mental list of the supports I had available to me right then so I could get started managing my depression before the clouds closed again and the moment of feeling like I deserved to and could feel better had passed.
- Exercising first thing in the morning. This took some shuffling of our mornings, but my husband was happy to help me make things work. Deciding that I was worth that time to take care of me was a huge first step.
- Opening up to people about what I was feeling. I told my parents, as well as my tight-knit small online group of moms about what I was experiencing. Naming it and talking about it with others helped me feel more like depression was a difficulty I was experiencing, and not just who I was, and I got a ton of support and commitments to keep checking in with me about it going forward.
- I spent a lot of the next day reading up on local therapists and made an appointment. Health insurance has to cover mental health services as long as the ACA sticks around, so there is no good reason not to take advantage of it. I knew if I wanted to get serious about treating my depression I could not do it without a professional to talk to.
- I planned a special girl’s night a few weeks out to give myself something to look forward to. I had my friend who is a makeup artist and sells a line of make up come and help us with some make overs and tips, and we had drinks and snacks and chatted for hours. It wasn’t that hard to make happen, but it felt really special.
- I started watching YouTube videos about skills I would like to have. This has been surprisingly empowering. Giving myself some time each day and soak in some new information about skills that I would feel really good about having has been a great stepping stone for me to having the confidence to try some new things. I watched a ton of This Old House videos because I love doing my own home improvements, and it motivated me to sign up for a carpentry class at a local woodworking studio!
- I changed my hair color, and I kept changing it until I landed on a color I felt really, really good in. Switching up my look to something a little more bold has been a great boost, as well as the confidence I gained doing a great job coloring my own hair! It’s currently a deep indigo blue and I just love it. Giving my outward appearance a shift has always been a great tool for me to get myself out of a rut.
- I have kept working on a rolling list of supports for my goals as I move forward. I am committed to my momentum, and I am starting to reach a really good pace by continually connecting with supports, and taking action based on our connections. Acquaintances, friends, and family, they all (mostly) love to help. We all love to be needed and valued, so reach out knowing you are probably not being a bother at all.
These were just my initial steps, but they all have one common thread. Like Dorothy clicking the ruby slippers, I could have done them any time I wanted. I just needed to decide I was worth the time and effort. I would love to hear about steps you take to keep moving forward when depression gets you down, reach out in the comments or on Facebook.