5 Real Ways I Eased My Depression This Year

SERIOUS ACCOMPLISHMENT TODAY, friends.

I called the pharmacy. On the TELEPHONE.

Like, I was out of medicine, so I casually picked up the phone, all la-dee-da as though I do this every day, dialed, talked to another human, and ordered more meds.

TRUE STORY.

It took less than two minutes, as opposed to the usual two weeks of crippling inertia and dread.

It took no brain space and carried no anxiety, as opposed to a full mental shut-down, clammy skin, and racing heart.

Then — then, friends — I put in a full day of work. Like it was no big deal. Like work is feasible. I called the pharmacy, I worked, I made food for myself and others, and I didn’t want to die or hide or cry.

That’s when I realized I’m truly on the mend.

I’ve found whole, big pieces of myself. And I also remembered how very slow is the road to recovery.

I’m on the upswing now, though. Really for real this time, as opposed to all the other times in the past 12 months I thought I was better.

Last June, I was able to get out of bed and sit on the couch. That was it. Just walk downstairs in the clothes I’d worn the day before (and the day before that, and the day before that… times infinity), put my butt on the couch, and turn on the TV. At night, I reversed course. And that’s when I knew I need medical help. Again.

By July, I could make myself food. Sometimes even a sandwich, which requires enough brain space to think about multiple steps. It felt like a miracle because, frankly, it was.

In August, I traveled with my family, and while I still found breathing an extraordinarily difficult task — probably because of the trash compactor practicing on my lungs such that short and shallow gasps were my only option — I didn’t eff it up for my kids; I did one activity with them per day, even if it was just sitting next to a pool, before I put myself back to bed.

I’m still waiting for my trophy. It shall read Didn’t Eff Up Family Vacation. Or perhaps instead of another trophy, this one should be a medallion like the participation awards handed out at the end of marathons. That seems fitting.

By December, I had the energy to decorate the house in my signature half-assed style, which included setting up the tree I trimmed three years ago, throwing stockings in the general direction of the mantel, and making two ingredient fudge. I spent three hours, max, on decorating, and I felt like a hero. CURED, I thought. Or at least in Depression Remission. I mean, the contrast with June was stark. I pretty much passed out for the rest of the Christmas season, but three whole hours of productivity — during which I breathed full breaths — was infinitely more than I’d had all summer.

This week, though, I MADE A PHONE CALL. Undeniable proof of mental stability.

Rejoice with me, friends, for that which was lost has been found.

For those of you who may be in the same boat — on the long road home — I’m sharing the following five real actions I took this year to ease my depression.

None of these is a substitute for medical and/or counseling help, but all of them played a role in giving me measures of relief along the way.

5 Real Ways I Eased My Depression This Year

1. We Bought a New Mattress: Anyone who reads here often will know we are not New Thing Buyers. We like old things, used things, and cheap-ass things.

Greg, in fact, was trying to dry himself after his shower yesterday, and it took him forever; he had to go slow so the towel wouldn’t rip more. Because big, rippy holes? Not a good reason to buy new towels. Truth is, Full Towel Disintegration isn’t enough to force such an extravagant purchase. We’ve never bought a towel in our lives, and this is no time to start.

You won’t be surprised to learn, then, that in 23 years of marriage, we’ve spent exactly $399 on mattresses. That’s cumulative for everyone in our house. Because if friends and family are giving them away, who are we to say no?

Unfortunately, though, my mattress wasn’t doing me any sleeping favors, and it turns out sleep is a critical part of mental health. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ So Greg and I succumbed and bought a Purple mattress.

Worth every penny, folks. Every penny.

(Don’t buy the Purple sheets, though — they suck. I mean, they’re great for a couple weeks, but then they start to pill, which is a real bummer. Stick with your regular sheets. The used ones you got from grandma. 😉 )

2. CBD Oil: Yep. Hemp oil. I’m going full Oregonian these days. Cannabidiol is the non-intoxicating, non-high-inducing extract of marijuana.

NOTE: You really do need to be careful with this for two reasons. First, the manufacturing of CBD oil isn’t regulated, so it’s important to be sure you’re getting a product that is exactly what it says it is. And second, the research on CBD has been minimal. It’s been proven to help with epileptic seizures and looks promising for social anxiety and as an anti-inflammatory, but there’s no conclusive information on the last two. A lot of anecdotal data, but nothing FDA approved.

I’m using a minimal amount of CBD oil (from a provider for whom I can vouch personally with a product that is what it says it is) 2 hours before bedtime as a sleep aid. I don’t know if it helps with sleep or not, to be honest, nor do I know if it’s the CBD or a placebo, but it’s helping me heaps with the anxiety of falling asleep, which is a Big Deal in my universe and, combined with Camomile and Lavendar Tea, is allowing me forego ambien most nights. For the win.

3. A Consistent Bedtime Routine: …. HA! Just kidding. At the time of this writing, it’s 10:30pm, one kids is crying because life is unfair (literally nothing triggered this — he’s just deeply troubled at the unjustness of All of Life), one is waxing eloquent about toast, a dog is barking, I can’t find my hairbrush, and I’ve just remembered 27 things I need to do before I sleep. Bedtime routines are probably helpful. I’m not maligning them. I’m just saying they’re apparently not for me.

Actual #3. Trashy Novels: Trust me here, recovering from a depressive episode is no time for deep thinking or self improvement. Staying alive and moving closer to health is all the improvement you need right now. Cross my heart. This is where trashy novels come in. They’re escapist fluff that allow you to shut your brain down. Some people can do this with trashy Netflix, so you do you. The key here is evading reality with brain candy. Give yourself permission to just rest that noggin.

Dog Golden Retriever Mental Health4. Foster Dogs or Do Some Other Unreasonable Thing That Brings You Joy: Now, if it were up to me, I’d have two dogs. Maybe six. Possibly nine hundred. But because Greg’s heart is a hardened lump of coal, I get one. He tried for zero, but I solved that by not buying a miniature horse, thereby proving what a sensible choice a Golden Retriever is. To make up for the dearth of dogs in my life, I asked Greg if we could start fostering Goldens. He said no, so now we’re fostering Goldens. In conclusion, do something that Makes No Sense to the people around you but brings you Great Joy and Soothes Your Soul. The sense-makers will understand eventually. Probably after you don’t buy the miniature Jersey milking cow you’ve been eyeing.

5. Sunshine: Because Vitamin D, folks. Those of us in climates like Oregon have to get creative sometimes to find it, but it’s a biological imperative — especially for brain and bone health — and no source delivers Vitamin D better than the sun. Thank God my kid goes to college in Hawaii so I have to visit her. Time with my baby girl + Vitamin D + twinsie pics replicating her Instagram feed. I mean, I can’t go wrong.

That’s all for now, friends, but I am, as always, sending you love and waving in the dark,

 

 

 

P.S. Speaking of Vitamin D and twinsie pics, there’s more of this magnificence coming soon to a blog near you:

P.P.S. Yes, my daughter and I can share clothes. Obviously.

P.P.P.S. Sorry it’s so hard to tell us apart. You’ll just have to guess which one is me. 

P.P.P.P.S. #Twinsies #MotherDaughter #CantTellUsApart

P.P.P.P.P.S. I genuinely can’t think of a better way to end a post about mental health than by adding a photo that ensures you’ll question mine. 😂🙌🏼🎉

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ABOUT BETH WOOLSEY I'm a writer. And a mess. And mouthy, brave, and strong. I believe we all belong to each other. I believe in the long way 'round. And I believe, always, in grace in the grime and wonder in the wild of a life lived off course from what was, once, a perfectly good plan.
15 comments
  1. 1 kid is crying at the time you were writing. This is a fact of life that 1 child will remain up till you go to sleep and that one kid will keep you engaged with him. This is want i am facing.Really enjoyed the post.

  2. Oh, those medical request phone calls! I’m so glad to know I’m not the only one who puts them off. It’s ridiculous, really, but why do I find it so hard to make a phone call? Argh! And yes to the CBD oil (tincture under the tongue, magic!) and my doctor put me on Vitamin D (although I don’t understand why I’m suddenly in need of it at 52). I’m with you on the bedtime routine… it would probably help, but what about everything else that needs doing?
    Meanwhile, I’m sitting here in desperate need of a shower and my dentist appointment is in 35 minutes. I have 15 minutes to shower and dress. Yeah. Go, me.

  3. A hug and love to you. You are amazing on sooooo many levels. I’m a fan.

  4. Oh, Beth. Keep those twinsies pictures comin’.

    I’ve read more thrillers in the past five months than I can believe. It’s the only combination of enthralling enough to pull me in and brainless enough to not require strong emotions from me that works. Yesterday I started listening to Chris Crutcher’s latest YA novel in the car, because he’s funny and real, and, well, it turns out it’s a foster care story that is maybe a little TOO real right now.

  5. I love the fact that you are comfortable enough to post pics in a bathing suit, that is absolutely amazing!!!

  6. Have you had your Vitamin B12 tested?
    A very informative website : b12deficiency.info

  7. I want to meet you for coffee. And in the sunshine. Im also here in Oregon and your posts all ring true for me! To good books, coffee, and sunshine. Love you

  8. I’ve got anxiety, not depression (Altho I’ve had that too! Except it was PPD so eventually it did go away. After eight years lol), but sunlight. All the sunlight. I’m brown (well, not as pasty white) right now and my episodes have become fewer so yes to all the sunlight. You always make me laugh, and yay for phone calls! I do the same thing … agonize for weeks and then it takes two minutes. Fortunately my therapist -and- doctor do things by text and online now so I don’t actually have to call anyone for an appointment or more meds. Which means I’m actually getting the treatment I need. Whoo for technology:)

  9. Way to go!! Living in the dark is hard, getting out of the dark is difficult and it seems to take forever! Sounds like you’ve found things that work for you. I am all for the fluff reading. I check out minimum of 2 books per week, pure fluff. I usually use a kindle so I don’t have to actually go to the library, but sometimes I do if there’s something I want NOW. Maybe we could share some authors you like? I’m always looking for something new, I get stuck on some like anything from Janet Evanovich, Stuart Woods, or JD Robb… I’m over 200 since the beginning of they year. Hang in there & keep moving forward!

  10. Are you the on with th belly button piercing?

  11. I’d give you a hug, the crying about life is unfair kid a hug, and then a lot of hugs left over for those goldens 🙂 Great read, as always. Waving from over here in Northern NY – like, I couldn’t be farther from you if I tried, the other edge of the country on the Canadian border….NY. 🙂

  12. Thank you for sharing. Your posts always brighten my day (ok, usually my night, when I’m trying to fall asleep). I’m with you on the Vitamin D. I like getting it from the sun best, but since that doesn’t happen nearly enough, I started taking it in tablet form a few months ago. Now I am wondering if the last three decades of life being very painful and difficult were unnecessary because I just needed vitamin D. I’ve had my heart broken three different ways this year already but much to my amazement, I’m not depressed. This has never happened before.

  13. I love you and you are rocking that suit so hard! Thank you for your honesty.

  14. I adore you, Beth Wolsey! Nothing but the utmost respect. Your post left me in tears and my heart swells with genuine admiration and gratitude. Thank you!!!

  15. As I sit curled in a ball over in the larger town in your county, I feel your love. I had high hopes for today but instead I spent 4 hours cleaning diarrhea from 2 dogs who managed to smear it throughout a carpeted house and onto all 3 beds. Poor creatures who endured haircuts around their bums and multiple baths. I’m done for the day (or maybe the week) and when I had a call asking “so what did you do today?” It took all I had deep down inside of me to not flip them off. But I digress. Thank you. I’m waving from my little corner. I suspect we’ll meet for reals some day. Maybe the word is Hope.

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