Ways you’re making your depression worse
Feeling sorry for yourself. While it’s healthy to be aware of your sadness or grief emotions, you have to careful of falling into the slippery loop of self-loathing and self-pity. Sinking into the quicksand of misery may feel warm and cozy while you’re going down, but ends up being your little cocoon of apathy and despair.
Not making an effort to get out of bed. While it may seem counterintuitive to conventional mental health advice, I really feel like sometimes you just have to put your happy face on, make it through the day, and give yourself permission to cry in the shower after the kids go to bed. Pushing through the day is really hard with depression, but I promise you’ll feel better moving through the motions than you would have laying in bed.
Not seeing a medical professional like your doctor, psychiatrist, or psychotherapist. When someone wants to feel better, they’ll usually do whatever it takes. Therapy. Meditation. Medication. You’ve got to change something to feel better.
Spending too much time on social media. Death by a thousand cuts – stop torturing yourself! You’re comparing your blooper reel to everyone else’s highlight reel. People aren’t posting pictures of their piles of laundry, bills paid late, overdraft fees, failed relationships, parenting meltdowns, and burnt dinners.
Judging your self-worth by your relationships, especially romantic ones. You are not your relationship. You have so much more to offer the world than being a girlfriend/mom/daughter/sister/coworker. You are more than your relation with your mom, how many friends you have, or whether you’re single or married.
Not owning your mistakes. It’s important to know your weaknesses and blind spots. We all make mistakes. We all say stupid stuff at the wrong time. Own it. Apologize. Take responsibility. Don’t wallow in it, but just acknowledge and accept it.
Hanging around toxic people. They’re dragging you down. They’re smearing their negative energy all over you. You’re absorbing their misery. They’re enabling and feeding your dysfunctional relationships and negative self views. You’re better off without them!
Eating crappy foods. There is plenty of research to defend eating better for your mental health. There are major links between sugar and anxiety, vitamin d deficiencies and depression, not to mention gut health. Take your vitamins, ease off the sugar and fast food.
Using substances or addiction. While I do believe that you’re going to do what you need to do until you don’t need to do it anymore, you’re delaying the healing process by numbing and escaping the pain. Do you have any healthy skills or habits to replace it with?
Working too much. You’re using work as a distraction. Not to mention that working is one of the most immediately gratifying distractions because work=productivity=accolades=promotions=more money. These really material manifestations of an avoidant coping skill makes overworking especially addictive for high functioning “type a” personalities.
Waiting on someone else to fix it. No one else can fix this for you, not even your counselor. Waiting on your husband to call the psychiatrist or mom to give the perfect advice is a waste of your time. If you don’t take responsibility for your mental health, no one will.
Staying at a job you hate. It’s killing you. It’s not worth it. Start developing an escape plan. Or take the O*NET survey to help you find a job you actually like!
Staying in a relationship you hate. Don’t stay with someone just because you feel like you don’t have a “good” reason to break up right now. Are they making your life easier or harder? Are you staying with them from guilt?
Silencing your truth. When you’re hiding anything, it’s stressful. Not being able to be your truest self affects everything about you. Our brains get really stressed when they have to suppress information and important parts of who we are. Some of the most common things I hear people say they feel the need to hide are sexuality, gender identity, religion, and political affiliation. If it’s safe for you to come out of whatever closet you’re in, do it!
Not taking your meds. Unless your doctor has recommended it and you’re in communication with them about it, it’s not a good idea to quit taking any medication suddenly, much less psychiatric medications. So often I see people quit taking antidepressants or antianxiety medications because they’re feeling better and don’t think they need them anymore, but don’t realize the medication is what was making them feel better.
Lying to your therapist or friends about how you’re doing. How can any of us help you if you won’t even tell us what’s wrong? I understand you’re trying to protect the feelings of others and don’t want to bother them with your problems, but: A. you’re paying me to dump your problems on me and I’m specially trained to help you handle them B. we all would rather be available to help you than you be dishonest with us.
Being avoidant and stonewalling. Stonewalling (aka silent treatment/shutting down) is manipulative and controlling. When you shut down and refuse to communicate with others, you’re controlling the stream of communication with them and therefore controlling the entire interaction. As much as it may hurt to talk about [insert major crisis/emotion/pain/etc.], shutting down absolutely will not help. However, if you’re so angry or emotional that you’re afraid you’ll say something hurtful if pressed to talk at that particular moment, you probably shouldn’t. It’s absolutely ok to say “I’m really upset right now and need to take a some time to regroup. Do you mind if I step away from this conversation and bookmark it for a minute/hour/day until I can talk about it more calmly?
Worrying about stuff you can’t do anything about, or isn’t worth your brain energy. Mark Manson’s books The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck and Everything is F*cked really explain the idea better than I can – read them! Our brain can’t produce enough energy to worry about ALL the things, so you’re going to have to pick which ones are worth it. If I spend my whole day worried about the war in the Middle East, I’m not going to have enough brain energy left for my husband and kids.
Being codependent. Codependency is a really common blindspot for anyone who is in a helping profession (teachers, doctors, counselors, nurses, etc.), empaths, highly sensitive people, and victims of abuse or trauma. You love too much – a blessing and a curse. You do too much for other people and get disappointed when they don’t reciprocate. You catch yourself gossiping often. You worry more about other people’s problems than they seem to. It’s exhausting and unnecessary. Try reading Codependent No More or Boundaries.
Listening to depressing music TV movies. Stop picking at it or it will never heal! If you’re experiencing an episode of depression/low mood/sadness/grief then you probably want to avoid adding anymore depressing content to your life. It may be time to take a break from reading Edgar Allan Poe and listening to Staind and at least try to start taking in some more positive content.