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How To Cope When You Are Struggling

A woman's lower leg and foot sit on a rocky outcrop above the waves. The sun is low in the sky and shines off the water.

I recently wrote a sort of “Part 1” post to accompany this, about calming and self-regulation. This one is about staying alive and bringing some kind of order to your universe. I have been through some trauma in the last few years that left me depressed, anxious, and unable to even think clearly. I didn’t know how I was going to get up in the morning, let alone survive from morning until night with only the prospect of another day just like it on the next horizon.

A very bad day.

If you’re there. I’m sorry.

The best advice I can give is to let everything go. I don’t know if you’ve been told this lately, but it is absolutely okay and enough, to put in the bare minimum. Life won’t always be like this, but while it is, phone it in. We both know that’s about all you can do anyways.

 

First things first, calm down if you need to

The world needs to allow you the space to collect your thoughts, do what you need to in order to get that moment to yourself. Put your kids in a safe spot, and sit outside on the front step if need be. You HAVE to do this for yourself. If you’re at work, go to the quietest bathroom. Find an empty stairwell. Go sit in your car for 2 or 3 minutes. (Part 1 features several suggestions!)

 

Eat and Drink

 

This is one of the hardest things to take care of, especially if you are already a short order cook for littles. Meal prep as though you are leaving the house even if you aren’t. Plan your snacks and write it down so you can easily remember. Prioritize your meals and morning coffee. If you are struggling to survive, it is absolutely okay to dump some Cheerios on the table and then eat your own breakfast and make a coffee before you feed the kids for real. It feels weird. It feels wrong. If you don’t, the day will start without you and you won’t be able to get back to it.

Buy frozen dinners, soups, fruit, snacks, instant foods that you like. Ideally we would be healthy, but today, we just need to eat.

Get a water bottle and fill it first thing in the morning so that you have it filled and around the house so you can drink without having to stop what you’re doing.

 

See Your Doctor

Did you know that depression manifests in a hundred different ways, and you may mostly/only experience physical symptoms? This was me. I took a long time to ask about medication because I felt physically tired, sore, foggy, etc. It was only once I found myself being ragey that I really knew I needed to see my Doctor. Depression can be triggered by long periods of sustained stress, such as caregiving. It is a physical illness and should be treated as such.

Taking medication does not need to be permanent unless you decide you want to stay on it. Way up north where I am, it is relatively common to take something for seasonal depression during the darkest winter months, and nothing for the rest of the year.

“But I want to handle this on my own!” Why? And also, you haven’t been able to. Once I started a medication I realized how truly debilitating my anxiety has always been, and now I am a more complete person and live a fuller daily life. My depression and anxiety truly robbed me of experiencing life to the fullest, and if not for yourself, do it for your family and significant other.

Another important reason to consider medication is that depression often causes insomnia, so you may not even be able to get the rest you need.

 

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Say No

Say it early and often. Volunteer opportunities? No thank you. Bible study? Pass please. Can you get all this extra work done by Friday? I’m sorry, I’m struggling right now and I actually can’t. Nothing bad will happen if you say no. If you lose friends, you didn’t need those ones. If you get passed up for something at work, it’s unfortunate but you can’t handle that right now anyways. What is for you, won’t pass you.

 

Leave the House

While it sounds unappealing and difficult if you are in survival mode, leaving the house is so important for your mental health. Go around the block if that’s all you can handle, or go for a drive.

I hope some of this has given you small ideas here and there to make life better right now. Hang in there!

Visit here for part 1: Calming for Adults – How to Relax Quickly.