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Help Me! I’m Depressed and I Can’t Get Out of Bed - Four Ways Out of the Looping and Lying That Is An Inevitable Part of This Destructive Illness
Hope Xchange Nonprofit is honored to welcome guest post writer Julie A. Fast, a good friend and fellow mental health advocate. For more about Julie's impressive body of work and her contributions to the bipolar community, please see the note below.
I don’t need an alarm. I’ve been awake for hours just lying here. I know I should get up. That is what regular people do, right? I hate myself for being in bed all day. I want a life, but what’s the point?
Who is there to see? What do I have to get up for? Staying in bed is better than seeing what a mess my life is and how no one cares about me at all. @#$%! this god-forsaken, worthless world and let me just die!
Depression is a succubus. It changes what we think and what we do. It tells us that we are worthless, no good pieces of trash that belong in a garbage dump that is then taken out to sea never to be seen again.
Depression is Cruel. Depression is Seductive. Depression Lies.
My name is Julie. Before you read anything about me, I’d like to tell you a story. At 19, my cool Canadian boyfriend broke up with me. I was devastated. Then things got weird. I remember riding my bike on the street and when a bus got close to me I thought, “I’m just going to ride my bike in front of that bus and everything will be better.”
Who thinks like this!? Where did that thought even come from? I had never thought like this before. Were all breakups this bad? I assumed this is what everyone went through. I was not actively suicidal. I just kept thinking about how I could die and that it would be better. I saw images of myself being harmed and my brain would not shut up about how death would be better than living.
I made it through somehow and eventually took a job at a nature park and had the wildest, craziest summer of my life filled with sex and drinking.
(I’m sure you know what my eventual diagnosis became.)
Back to the depression. For the next 15 years, I would get seriously depressed and eventually was not able to leave my bed for long periods of time.
I lost jobs, relationships and my positive nature. The world was bleak and I was hopeless. Have you gone through this as well?
My Theory About Depression and Four Ways Out of the Looping and Lying that Comes with this Destructive Illness
I have a theory about depression I would like to share with you for your opinion. Then I’m going to tell you what I did to change my life so that I can now get out of bed every morning, even when the depression is raging.
Here is my theory: depression is the same all over the world. It doesn’t care about race, income, religion, personality or gender. I call it the equal opportunity destroyer. Every person who explains their depression sounds the same. If this is true, depression has to be an illness. If a rock star, mother, politician, super model, athlete or eight year old boy get depressed in the same way, no matter who they are, it can’t be personal.
If you are depressed, it has nothing to do with who you are as a person. It is a brain illness.
If you’re depressed right now, your brain is probably saying no to what I’m writing. It will say, “Julie doesn’t know what she is talking about! She doesn’t know me! She doesn’t know my life! My struggles!”
My brain used to say this to me as well. Here’s what I did. Join me and find a way out of this looping, lying and destructive illness.
#1. Write Down Your Depression Thoughts
#1. I wrote down my depression thoughts. I realized that I always said the same thing over and over and over again. Real thoughts are creative and they change. Depression thoughts are ALWAYS the same.
What is the point?
My depression thoughts filled pages. I finally realized that there was a pattern. I noticed that I never had these thoughts unless I was depressed. I had been depressed for so long, I lost my SELF.
#2. Yell Back at Your Depression Thoughts! Yes, Yell Out Loud
#2. I started to yell back at these thoughts. I took my SELF back and yelled and screamed and said NO to the thoughts. Out loud.
THIS IS DEPRESSION TALKING AND I DO NOT LISTEN TO DEPRESSION!
When I woke up, opened my eyes and had that cascade of depression thoughts that made me cry and want to die before I even set my feet on the floor, I yelled at them. And that was the day I got out of BED. It wasn’t perfect and it took time to become a habit, but I changed.
#3. Recognize Getting Out of Bed is Like Climbing Mt. Everest
#3. I recognized what I was up against and understood what success looks like. As Hope Xchange's mentors also teach impart through their bipolar mentoring program, this is the day I started to see what victory means when it comes to fighting this crap illness.
I realized that getting out of bed when you are depressed is the same as climbing Mt. Everest when you are a mountain climber. I began to measure my success in the same way a person who has broken both legs feels after the first tiny step back into life.
#4. Teach Yourself to Get Things Done Even When Depressed
#4. I taught myself over time to get things done even when I was depressed. When someone has depression due to brain chemicals, it doesn’t just go away. We have to learn to live with it as we get better. I didn’t pop out of bed all of those years ago and have the perfect life. Far from it.
The challenge is daily. I got out of bed at first and made it to the couch. Then I got out out the front door. When I was standing in the street unsure of where to go, I simply picked a direction and walked. I realized that my body worked just fine even when my brain told me I was catatonic and couldn’t tie my shoes.
To the regular world, my victories might seem small. But in our world, the world you and I share, I saw myself as super woman. You are the same as me. You have have super powers too.
Join Me In A Journey Today To Be Depression Free ... For As Long As Possible. And If It Comes Back, Here's Our Plan
What about today? Now you can read about me and see if you want to join me in my journey to be suicidal when I’m stressed, but have a plan in place so that I never kill myself. You can join me and one day be depression free for as long as possible. If it comes back, you will have a plan for that as well.
Depression is an illness. It’s not you. You are beautiful just as you are. I want you to live. I want to live. We are going to live.
Enough About Depression. Let's Have a Contest!
I’m going to send Kerry Martin, CEO of Hope Xchange, 10 copies of my book Get it Done When You’re Depressed: 50 Strategies for Keeping Life on Track. Post a comment below about how you get out of bed on the tough days or how you WANT to get out of bed on the tough days and you will be entered into the contest.
Winners will be picked randomly. I will write you a personal message in the book and as YOU get better and start to help others, we will create a team at Hope Xchange that keeps all of us with suicidal depression alive.
We can do it. We can do this together.
PS: I do all of this while dealing with mood swings. I get out of bed. We are warriors!
About Julie Fast
Julie was finally diagnosed with rapid cycling bipolar two with psychotic features in 1995 at age 31. If diagnosed today, she would have a schizoaffective diagnosis. She daily lives with symptoms including hypomania, depression, psychosis and that freaking, rotten anxiety that makes work so hard.
Julie is the author of Loving Someone with Bipolar Disorder: Understanding and Helping Your Partner, Take Charge of Bipolar Disorder and Get it Done When You’re Depressed. She was the original consultant for Claire Danes for the show Homeland and is on the mental health expert registry for People Magazine.
Julie is also a columnist and blogger for BP Magazine for Bipolar at www.BPHope.com and won the Mental Health America journalism award for the best mental health column in the US. Julie was also the recipient of the Eli Lily Reintegration award for her work in mental health advocacy. She works as a coach for parents and partners of people with bipolar disorder and other mental health concerns and is currently writing a book for children called Hortensia and the Magical Brain: Poems for Kids with Bipolar, Anxiety, Psychosis and Depression. You can find more about her work at www.JulieFast.com and on Facebook at Julie A. Fast.