Depression is a pain in the ass.
Not gonna lie to you about that. There are days where I really wish I didn’t have it, but there are also days where it’s manageable and I don’t have much of a problem.
But a lot of people, both with and without depression, don’t think it’s possible for someone living with depression to live a happy and fulfilling life. They think that depression means a life of sadness, depression, and bad thoughts.
It doesn’t have to be!
Yes, You Can Have a Happy, Fulfilling Life With Depression
You can take some steps to make sure you not only can live happily, but be prepared for when those depression days do hit, so you can properly take care of yourself. Having a game plan and following the below steps will help you live a happier, and even a more fulfilling life because you won’t be focusing on your depression as much.
Have Your Depression Under Treatment
The first thing you need in order to live a happy and fulfilling life with depression, is to have your depression be treated by a medical professional. This can be by a medical doctor and/or a therapist and doesn’t always have to include medication, but a lot of people choose that route and it’s the best thing for them.
In order to battle your depression you need to have it at least somewhat under control. In order to do that you have to be seeing some kind of doctor for your depression. Depression is a mental illness that usually requires treatment from a doctor of some sort.
You can see a psychiatrist, psychologist, or a therapist, or even all of the above.
I currently see both a psychiatrist and a therapist. The psychiatrist helps with the medication and the making sure my depression is being managed correctly through those medications. The therapist is there to do talking therapy to vent and talk about the problems in my life and see how to move past that with non-medicated alternatives.
Not everything needs to be treated with medication though, however, a lot of people do feel better with medication. Those with a lesser case of depression might be able to get away with just therapy, but those of us with a worse case might need to take medication, AND THAT’S OKAY!
Whatever you do to have your depression treated, keep doing it. Keep up with it, and make sure you’re abiding by the directions you’ve been given by you doctors.
If something doesn’t feel right or you’re not getting the help you need, you can always talk to a new doctor. Psychiatrists and therapists are the kind of doctor you need to make sure they fit you and your life best. I’ve had to go through a few bad doctors in the past until I’ve gotten to the one I have now. Same with therapists. Not every doctor is going to fit your life, so it’s more than okay to get a second opinion on things.
Related: This is What Depression Looks Like
Have a Plan in Place For When Depression Hits
The second thing you need to do to live a happy and fulfilling life with depression, is to have a plan in place for when the depression does cause more problem than good. For when you have those days you can’t get out of bed and have no desire to do anything.
You need to figure out what your triggers are, if you have triggers at all, and what to do when you feel the depression creeping up on you.
I wrote an entire book on what to do when depression hits, Depressive Moments: a Self Care Guide for Days When Depression Hits Hardest. If you want to check that out and use that as your plan, be my guest!
Figure out what you are going to do on the weekend, what you’re going to do on the weekday, when you’re working, when you’re not working, when it’s the middle of the day versus when you first wake up.
There are a lot of variables that go into this, so have a plan for all of them. My best advice for that is to follow these few questions to make sure your needs are met:
- When was the last time you ate?
- When was the last time you drank water?
- When was the last time you slept (for 8+hours!)?
- When was the last time you spoke to someone else?
- When was the last time you took care of your mental health?
- When was the last time you went outside?
- When was the last time you moved?
Keep Your Body and Mind Healthy
The third thing you need to do have a happy and fulfilling life with depression, is to make sure you mind and body is healthy.
This is going to be anecdotal entirely, but when I eat like shit and don’t move much, I tend to feel much worse about myself and my depression will rear it’s ugly head.
It’s when all I eat is junk and I sit in bed all weekend because I’m being lazy that when my depression comes up. But it’s hard to get yourself back on track once you fall off the wagon of healthy foods and habits.
So, make a habit of moving more in your life and eating healthier when you can. It might not make you free of your depression, but it’s going to be helpful in making your body and mind just a little bit better than when you indulge in junk.
I’ve been there. I know.
I’m currently listed in the “obese” category for my height because I’ve gained almost 40lbs during the lockdown. I ate my feelings and my boredom away at the beginning, then definitely ate my feelings and life away after I was let go from my job.
I’ve been trying to get my health back on track because I need to lose weight as a lot of medical problems run in my family so I rather not cause any more from being overweight.
Right now, I’ve gotten my eating mostly under control and I just need to start moving more. I have a gym membership I barely use since I’m asthmatic and can’t exercise in a mask, but I’m going to have to put on my big girl pants and start going because my body needs it.
Exercise is also a great way to combat depression in itself. It won’t fix you, but there are definitely communities centered around “exercising out of depression”.
Keep Your Mind Busy
Boredom and a bored mind are the biggest problems for depression.
If you want to live a happy and fulfilling life with depression, you’re going to have to keep your mind occupied most of the day. That means doing things that require active thinking, like puzzles, video games, socialization, writing, reading, etc.
When you do things like watch tv or YouTube, or scroll through the internet, it’s a lot easier for your mind to start to wander, and just like the saying “idle hands are the devil’s playthings” an idle mind is a depression’s plaything. Those depressive ideas, thoughts, and memories will have an easier time when you’re not thinking about and actively doing other things.
For me, I’ve been writing a lot more. I’ve been journaling, writing blog posts, writing blog post outlines, and socializing with people when I can. It’s made things so much better these past few weeks.
Today I’ve written a few blog posts alone because my mind is active and running.
An active mind also leads to creativity. You might discover you have a new hobby of writing or drawing, or you may discover a new love of reading. You never know what you can do when you put your mind to it. And living a happy and fulfilling life with depression is definitely one of those things.
The fifth and final step is to keep consistent with all of these steps.
In order to live a happy and fulfilled life, you need to have your depression under control, have a plan in place, know what to do to keep your mind occupied, but most importantly, you need to stay consistent with your plan and actions.
It’s super easy to fall into the trap of just giving in to the depression, but you need to stay strong and stay consistent. I recently had a bout of depression later at night. That’s usually when things hit because I’m winding down for the day and my mind isn’t as occupied as it could be.
I felt like a failure. All I wanted was to be loved but I haven’t felt real love in years. But I had to push through that because I know that it was just my depression talking and not reality. I know there are people out there who love me and even though I didn’t feel like it at the time, it’s still true.
So, keep consistent with your plan and you’ll be able to get through your depression and live a happy and fulfilling life.
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