We all have off days. Days where our irritation levels run high and we just want to run away. Days when no amount of coffee in the world can help us keep going and it feels like there are heavy clouds weighing down our hearts. But what does it feel like to really be heading “down” into depression? There’s a difference between a bad day and a season of heading into depression. How can you tell the difference?
For me, I learned to listen to my body; physically, mentally and spiritually. It’s taken me years to truly understand and listen to the warning signs for me.
- My left eye lid droops
- I can’t sleep
- I crave coffee and sugar
- I hide from people.
I’m an extrovert, so being with people energizes me. When I find myself not wanting to go out and I avoid people whenever possible, I realize that’s not the real “me”.
- I don’t smile
I love to smile. It’s such a small act that makes people feel like you are glad to see them. Yet, when my smiles slow down, and the nasty crease (aka wrinkle) in between my eyes deepens, I know it’s not good.
- My anxiety is heighten
My heart begins to beat faster, my breath becomes shallow and quick, my hands shake. Anyone who has suffered anxiety or a panic attack can understand how horrible the feeling can be.
- I can’t think straight
- It’s difficult to help others
- I can’t “feel” God
- I can’t find the words to pray
So what does all this mean? How does it help to understand your own warning signs or when the clouds are rolling in? For me, it means I need to take action to protect myself before the clouds become black.
What taking action looks like for me:
- I reach out and tell my family and close friends
- Pray even when I don’t have the words
- If I’ve committed to something, I send my regrets and try not to feel guilty
- Say no to people, even if it’s something I’m passionate about
- Take time for myself. My husband is so supportive. He understands when I need to go to bed at 7pm or if I need to go for a run (Heck, sometimes he tells me to go to bed or pushes me out for a run. Love that guy!)
- Try to stay physically active. This can be hard when I’m feeling exhausted, but I try to push myself to do at least something
- I write about it. As much as this blog is hopefully helping others, it is also an incredible journey of self discovery
- I take a day off work. Spend a day writing, reading, walking in the woods, praying. Just me and God. Again, with no guilt.
- If it gets really bad, I will seek professional help.
The guilt of letting people down can push me to the edge. But I know I’m no good to anyone, unless I care for myself first. We all know that the sun continues to shine behind the clouds. Eventually the clouds will dissipate and we’ll be able to see clearly once again. Never forget that.
Do you recognize your warning signs when you’re going down or the clouds are rolling in? What do you do to take action to care for yourself?
Clouds and thick darkness surround him; righteousness and justice are the foundation of his throne.