The inertia of depression
When the safety of bed trumps the ideas in your head of what life holds for you outside the comfort of your duvet, it might just be that the inertia of depression has descended.. Yep, depression can be constant companion throughout life, coming and going but lurking nevertheless.
The inertia of depression is not easy to deal with. It is powerful and paralyses you and can make every day tasks feel like a monumental effort. Some days you might even lack motivation to even brush your teeth. Then comes the inevitable and unexpected visitor and you have to scramble around crazily trying to find a hairbrush in a feeble attempt to look half human when you present yourself at the front door.
It’s not a good way to live and the longer you isolate yourself, the worse the situation has become. So what can you do about it?
1) Force yourself
Sometimes, quiet cajoling and sweet pep talks to ourselves just don’t work. It takes sheer force at times to MAKE ourselves break out of the rut. Force yourself to at least get-up and brush your teeth (hair etc…)
The psychological cycle of ‘not doing’ and then feeling worse and sinking further down can only be broken by doing something different. You will find that when you take care of yourself that your mood instantly improves even if only in a minor way.
2) Set yourself at least one task per day
Fight the inertia of depression by having at least one thing to complete each day. Depending on how severe your depressive state is, you can schedule in more than one activity but never schedule in more than you think you can realistically achieve. If you don’t manage to complete a task that you had hoped to, it can add to your low mood. Baby steps and be realistic. Set yourself a task such as decluttering a drawer in your bedroom for instance. Small successes all help.
3) Accept that your thinking is ‘off’
When you are feeling depressed your thinking changes and becomes much more negative. You will find you are more self critical and feel hopeless and helpless. You might even blame yourself more and feel like a waste of space. Acknowledging that your thinking is distorted is crucial as it gives you a good reason to ignore your negative thoughts. Dismiss critical thoughts about yourself and remember that type of thinking is just a symptom of your low mood and that when you feel back on track, your thinking will follow.
4) Give yourself permission to take some time out
Adding pressure to your existing low mood by feeling guilty and engaging in self-loathing will not help in any way at all. It really is okay to have some time out. Perhaps the depression has come along as a warning to you, a reminder that you need to change something. Listen to your inner wisdom and enjoy the time away from others without guilt. You deserve it. Even a few weeks is acceptable. Look at all those celebs who go for months at a time for rehab – this is your ‘rehab’ time. Make the most of the time to self-soothe and look after yourself well.
5) Don’t overthink
The inertia of depression often stems from overthinking. We peel back the surface layers and try to figure out things that we will probably never really get to the bottom of. Put those layers back and learn to deal with the world on a more ‘surface’ level – at least for a while. This taxes us less and allows us to worry less. We can’t mind read and we can’t predict the future so put those dilemmas aside for now and try to savour the moment. Do something to distract yourself (not sleeping!!) like watching a movie or going for a walk.
6) Force yourself!
I know I have mentioned this one before but it is so important that I am mentioning it again! Sometimes you just have to MAKE yourself phone a friend or get out the house. Make that your one task per day. Try to do something constructive each day. Even if that one task is having a bath and shaving your legs/face….
Give yourself a time limit, if you haven’t begun to improve after 2 weeks of self soothing, it might be time to seek professional help. Of course there are all the usual things to try too – eating well, getting exercise and reaching out to others. The inertia of depression can be all consuming and hard for someone has never experienced depression to fully understand.
Momentum seems to help counteract inertia, the more we force ourselves the more we punch inertia in the face….