My Routine for Taking Care of Myself During Depression.

©2020 Matthew Weatherford

I have had a depression every year my life. They last from October to February. Not many years were horrible until about 18 years ago. My depressions became treatment resistant. They have been as deep as can be every year since. Meds help lighten them some. ECT helped some too. Although they’re still deeper than ever. Nothing has ever shortened them. Now I just have to sweat them out.

The most important thing to me is being able to stay in my home. So I must be ‘capable’ of taking care of myself. Whether that’s doing things myself or directing others to do things for me. Doing as many things as I can so that I will continue to be able to do so for as long as possible. Only getting help when I need it.

The main premise behind my method is to make my life as easy as possible. That way I don’t get overwhelmed constantly. I have ways to get my chores caught up quickly when I do get overwhelmed. Distractions for the hard times. Activities to get myself thinking and moving. With the ultimate goal of being able to spend the energy I have doing the things I want to do.

My doctor says I should do at least one thing everyday. So I pick a task everyday. If I am feeling well enough I will do a second one and so on.. I pat myself on the back after every task I do during depression. I will note my tasks below as I mention them.

So let’s get on with it. Here are some of the things that I do to take care of myself during depression.

I buy food that is easy to cook or ready to eat, and not a mess. Yet, still good for me. I buy prepackaged salads. I buy meat such as dinner sausages that I can just pop in the oven. I like the steamer vegetables that I can just pop in the microwave. Other frozen vegetables I can bake right on top of the meat. I buy sauces and toppings for all of that. I buy better quality canned and frozen foods when I can afford them.

Since I’m mostly just baking, I may bake enough at once to not have to cook for a few days. If I do, that is a task for my day.

I keep my dishes to a minimum. Although I have a large collection of pans, utensils, and electric cookers. I only own a couple sets of silverware, a couple plates and a bowl. That way I never get too far behind. There is never a big pile in the sink because I just don’t have that many dishes. I also use aluminum foil when cooking. So I don’t have to clean pans or at least they are really easy. Of course, I use paper and plastic for most meals. Doing a sink of dishes meets my task for the day.

I order my groceries for delivery. Not only does that save me from the hell of the store but researching recipes and shopping at home is a fun activity.

The next hard thing for me is showering and self-care. Besides depression, I have sensory problems as well. Water running on my face is like people screaming in my face. Showers are just too much for me.

One thing I like to do is wash my body in the shower one day. Then wash my head on a different day. That way it’s not too much at once. A shower is considered a task for my day.

I use tar and lard based soaps. They get me really clean, really quickly. They are so good for my skin as they moisturize and remove dead skin. They are even better for my hair and beard. My favorite is pine tar. Coal tar is the most effective. Lard soaps are almost just as good as tar and come in a variety of scents.

I use wipes, dry shampoo, and the no-rinse shampoo caps. That way I can do a quick touch-up or get my hair clean if I need to real fast. Between showers during a depression, they are a lifesaver when something unexpected comes up.

Every week or 10 days, I take a salt bath. I use a lot of salt and liquid soap. That makes the water heavy and soft like a weighted blanket. If it has been a while, I might throw in a tablespoon or two of degreasing dish soap.

While I’m soaking, I may eat dinner, enjoy a drink, read a book, listen to music, take a nap, burn some incense, and/or candles. Creating a comfortable environment makes everything easier.

When I’m done, I stand up and quickly shower off. I am now deep down clean. All caught up with showers after a relaxing experience. It meets my task for the day.

Another way I make taking showers and baths easier is keeping some whites, sweatpants and shirts in baskets in the bathroom. Any comfort clothes. That way I don’t have to get any clothes out. They’re always right there for me when I step out of the shower.

When I need to wash those clothes, they’re right there by the washer and dryer. No folding, hanging, or putting away. I toss them back in the baskets. It’s not as if anybody important is going to see me in them anyways. A load of laundry meets my task for the day.

To reduce laundry further, I pick a set of clothes to hang up by the door. It’s a pair of pants and shirt with my belt, wallet, and keys in them. Ready to go at a moment’s notice. I only use them for when somebody comes over or I go out somewhere. As soon as I’m done, I hang them back up. When I’ve worn them 12 hours total, I wash them and get a new set out. Although it could be a week, or two, or three before I have worn them that long. That helps keep laundry down to an absolute minimum. I still have all my good clothes hung up for important outings.

Of course, the most work is cleaning the house and taking out the trash. Taking out a bag of trash a day is great for my daily task.

I do my best to not make messes. Most of the items I use daily, I keep by my recliner. If I have not used something in a few days or a week, it gets put up. When I do something, I get the stuff and do it at my recliner or the table. That way the only real mess is around my recliner. I may have tools or arts and crafts on the table. The rest of my house stays clean much longer. Cleaning around my recliner or the table counts as a task for the day.

Despite my efforts, I am very clumsy and make a lot of messes. No matter how hard I try. So I will get behind. That is when I have my cleaning lady come help me. I usually just pay her to get the trash out of the house, do the dishes, floors, clean the bathroom, and a monthly or seasonal task like cleaning the fridge, the stove, the walls, or the windows. That way I’m only paying for an hour or two. All the immediate things get done. My house stays fairly well kept rotating between monthly things. I am only paying between $20 and $40. Instantly, I’m all caught up!

I can pay my cleaning lady a couple times a month and stay well on top of things. Some months just once. I also have her available if I know I’m going to be having people over.

Please see the #52smallthings tag for our weekly self-care challenge and more tips and trickss.

I save up movies, TV shows, and books for distractions when I’m having a hard time. New movies and shows are usually available for cheap or free by the time I watch them.

Please see the #distractme tag or join the Distract Me group suggestions of movies, tv, and books as well as other posts and pics here on The Mighty.

I find arts and craft ideas and journaling that are very easy to do. Nothing that I have to put thought into to get started. Simple coloring, puzzle, journaling, and mental health workbooks to get my mind working. Small project kits or supplies to get my hands moving. A lot like groups at the hospital, without the hospital. I especially like ornaments kits so I can put them on a shelf or a wall when I’m done. Helps me feel accomplished. It is not too much longer after my mind and hands are moving that my feet are moving too.

Please join The Pencil Case group for writing poems, sharing your story, journaling, and mindfulness techniques to help get your mind going.

Please join The Mighty Craft Room group for ideas, sharing your crafts, and seeing other user’s projects.

All of this helps me not get overwhelmed from chores and self-care. When I get behind, I can easily get caught up. I have distractions for when I’m not thinking well. I have activities to help get me functioning. The only thing I have to do is be good to me.

I never think badly of myself for not finishing something, falling behind, not taking showers, or any tasks. They’re still there waiting to be done and I can have somebody else get me caught up if I need to.

I hope you find some of my ideas useful and that you get through your depression more easily next time.

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