I’ve suffered from depression on and off for probably seven years. I think it started after my daughter was born. I was a stay-at-home mom with no friends around. My closest friends and sister lived out of state. We had people we occasionally hung out with; even they didn’t have kids. I had my mom, but no one my own age. I felt alone. I felt isolated.
Other dramas happened, a financial landslide, and blended family complexity resulted in a tense marriage. I found the need to seek counseling and medical help. Most of my symptoms were signs of dysthymia, which were lack of self confidence, feeling “stuck”, irritability or loss of interest in daily activities. I manage my depression with exercise, medication and counseling as needed.
Rarely, I may have an episode where I feel crippled and unmotivated. It’s not just normal procrastination or laziness. It’s depression. Not wanting to get out of bed. Not wanting to exercise, bathe or much else. Luckily, this level of depression doesn’t happen often for me.
So how does a person maintain a home when feeling depressed?
Depression interferes; it cripples the mind and body. I feel the stress of the mess and I can’t will myself to do anything. I may start something and fail to complete it or I sit and do nothing causing the depression to seep deeper.
To help myself, I do the following things.
- Start Small. I pick a simple and easy task. Something I know I will complete and doesn’t require a lot of energy. Empty the dishwasher. Sweep the floor.
- Use a Schedule. Last year, I created a weekly cleaning schedule. I’ll confess I don’t always follow it, but when I can’t seem to make a decision for myself, the schedule does it for. I follow the tasks for Tuesday so I feel a small victory.
- Use a Timer. If I know a particular task will take hours or feels too overwhelming, I set a timer. Focusing for only 20 minutes seems doable rather than 1 hour. Doable is what I need when depressed.
- Find Support. Seeing a counselor has helped me immensely. I have one I can contact for my periodic needs. I also have my husband. He’s aware of my illness and knows my symptoms (I think better than I do sometimes). I’ll reach out to him. Maybe just ask him to do extra this week because I can’t. Or he provides inspiration when I can’t find it internally.
- Get Rid of Stuff. At a time when I’m feeling motivated and energized, I like to purge items. For 2015, I’ve made the goal to decrease my personal possessions by 25%. The less stuff I own, the less that owns me. I want the feeling of freedom and less stress at home.
I take control over my depression with the help of exercise, medication, friends/family and occasional therapy. I know it will always be a possible threat of return, winter is especially risky. I remind myself of the things that I’m thankful for, my husband and especially my daughter. She has been and always will be my inspiration. I need her as much as she needs me. She is the reason I get up in the morning when nothing else matters.
Disclaimer: I am not a medical professional nor an expert on depression or mental health. Always seek a professional when experiencing depression. The examples listed above are only suggestions, not medical advice. I based them on my personal experience and what has worked for me.
Thank you, Kerri! Some great advice! Having a plan and tools in place is so very helpful when your brain and body want nothing more than to give up.
So helpful, Kerri! Thank you!!
Glad to hear Gretchin! Kerri
Fanny, thank you for your thoughtful comments. I hope your daughter finds the article useful and best of luck to her. Support from family and friends is especially important. It sounds like she has that from you.
I found your article not only very special, honest and sincere, but very useful. I’m going to refer it to my oldest daughter, who is having some kind of depression, and although she’s seen a therapist I’m sure your advices will help her a lot. I found of too much importance to remember about our children to get more motivation, like you said about your daughter. Congratulations and thank you very much for writing so clear.