The Next Step
That’s actually the title of this one show me and my sister have been watching. Ironically, of course.
Anyways, following my posts about coping with anxiety and depression here, I’m here to talk about the next step to handling your worst days. We’re talking those days when you literally don’t want to live anymore. I’ve had quite a few of those recently, and while I can’t say that the practice I’m going to go into changes how I’m feeling at all, but it sure helps me handle things.
I like starting my days off right. I don’t always do this, of course, but I’ll get ready, make tea and breakfast, and go over my schedule for the day. This way, I’ve got a good start to things, and I feel better overall. However, one of the practices I’ve been putting into place recently is to check my ‘daily inventory.’
Wake up and start each day new. You’re a new you, it’s a new world, etc etc. Awesome. When I say to ‘check your daily inventory,’ I mean to take a step back away from yourself for a bit, and objectively consider how you’re doing on that particular day. This morning, for example, I woke up (finally) feeling well rested. The sun is shining, which means I’m more motivated to do things, but I also feel completely and absolutely miserable. It’s worse when I’m not distracted, and if I’m not constantly doing things, I’m going to end up breaking down in tears – something that I’m really quite tired of right now.
So what does this mean for me? Basically, I’ll be able to recognize what things I can handle today and what I can’t. Socializing would be great because it would take my mind off things, but spending a lot of time doing chores today is only going to make my thoughts wander. Starting my day off right and maintaining a schedule will help me to feel more of the motivation side of things, but I should actively avoid all triggers today. Basically, we’re looking for obnoxiously loud things to drown out my own feelings.
I’d often find myself getting wrapped up in how I was feeling and ending up in an endless spiral of misery. However, that can be avoiding if I had checked my daily inventory instead of jumping ahead into whatever I thought I should be doing in any particular moment. It’s a way of giving yourself grace – the ability to take on what you can handle without overwhelming yourself – and setting healthy boundaries for the sake of your sanity.
Awesome. Second step: Find reasons to live.
If you’re anything like me (which I really hope you’re not when it comes to this), misery hits you hard. You rarely ever feel mildly upset, at least not where depression is concerned, and so waking up each day is almost an impossibility for you. Living through the next twenty-four hours seems even more impossible. To be completely honest with you, I often have absolutely no idea how I’m going to survive for another hour, much less the next day. On almost a daily basis it seems, I’m questioning my ability to live at all, and I really don’t know why I’m not dead yet.
That being said, I know I’m going to make it through, regardless of how I’m feeling, so we might as well find some ways to make it a bit easier, yeah?
When I begin a day where I feel particularly trashy, I write myself lists of the little joys that I have to look forward in the day. Usually they go something like this:
- I’m really excited to reach level fifty in that video game
- Drinking tea is the best thing in the world
- I’m in an endless love affair with my bed
- My friends want me around, and if I can’t do it for myself, I can do it for them
- I’ve got this amazing story idea I really want to spend time on
- I’ve got a pack of ramen in the cupboard I’d really like to eat later
In which case, my days don’t become about getting through the next hour, or even the next minute, but rather, managing myself until I can have (or do) the next thing on my list. They’re all small and insignificant, yes, but I thoroughly enjoy them. If I can come to think of life as not one massive dark hole of depression, but rather, a collection of small joys, it makes it a little easier to manage things when the misery does set in.
I also make sure I have big things. Giving yourself something to look forward to is vital. It gives me the ability to say ‘yes I’m feeling crappy today and I don’t even know if I want to keep surviving, but I’ve got _______ going on in a few days, so I may as well just get through until then.’
For me, these things often are:
- Buying new books that I’ve been really excited for
- Seeing people that are really important to me
- Shopping and spending money
- Getting new tea
- Showing someone my latest story so they can get excited about it
Your things, of course, will probably be vastly different than mine. Regardless, on a day like today when I’m really just fed up with being alive, instead of falling into that and come to a place where I actually am at risk for suicide, I choose to focus on the small things that make the next hour (or minutes, depending on how I’m feeling) worthwhile. Not to say that any of that’s easy – it’s a matter of having to train your mind and – for the most part – literally force yourself to do things. It becomes less difficult the more you practice, of course, so the more time you put into it, the better you’re going to get.
Me? I’m still a beginner. Or maybe I’m better at all this than I think I am. Regardless, that’s why we do this together, right?