Depression and unhealthy ways of addressing it has become a worldwide problem made worse than usual due to the Covid-19 Pandemic shutdown. Those in Twelve Step Recovery programs are more fortunate than most because Twelve Steppers have the tools with which to start over a bad day making it a positive day. The problem here is choosing to stay in depression rather than doing what needs to be done to turn things around. For those with obsessive compulsive disorder (drunks, junkies, overeaters, etc.) the payoff for remaining in depression is to become miserable enough to have a relapse ("If you felt as bad as I do, you'd use too.") Great excuse with only one problem: Using again returns to the nightmare driving what was depression down into degradation and horror. For those without OCD problems, unaddressed depression is a terrific excuse to develop a drinking problem, chemical dependency, overeating disorder, gambling or video game addiction, and so on. If that fails, there is always making everyone around you miserable with the hopes of violence, incarceration, and even suicide along the way. The way out for everyone: TURN YOUR DAY AROUND!
Misery Is Optional! Starting a crappy day over usually requires action. Left on its own, depression has no reason to get any better. Here are some tools Twelve Steppers use to break the cycle of misery.
Call Someone. Twelve Steppers have sponsors and telephone numbers of others in recovery they can call when the walls begin closing in. "I feel like crap." "I'm afraid." "I just don't know what to do." and "HELP!" are all valid ways to begin such a conversation. Those not in Twelve Step programs can call a relative or friend. Those who do not know anyone, have no relatives, and have no friends, look in a phone book or go online and get the number of a hotline. After talking out your problem, start thinking about making a friend you can call.
Make A Gratitude List. Depression tends to take small problems and inflate them until they cover the universe with hopelessness. A gratitude list helps to let the air out of depression and balance your perspective by listing the things that are going right. I usually begin with "I'm still here." That means to me that I am still alive, I'm still taking care of myself, and I am reaching to get out of my depression rather than sitting and wallowing in it. There are people I love (list them), there are people I believe love me (list them), I pay my bills, live in beautiful Maine, am going to get a working knee later this year, and am getting my second Covid-19 vaccine shot today! My work is going well, at this moment my chronic migraines have taken the morning off, I had a good night's sleep last night, and so on. You beat down depression with gratitude. I'm still here, and that is all kinds of victory for me. Do your own list. If you are reading this, you too can begin with, "I'm still alive."
Find A Happy Place and Go There. I have several "happy places" I can go when my edges begin growing dark. When in season and when my health cooperates, I love downhill skiing. Going for a walk is another happy place. There are wild turkeys in our neighborhood and I love feeding them and having them gather about me like chickens. Indoors there are movies guaranteed to make me laugh. Two of them are Galaxy Quest and No Time For Sergeants. Depending upon my mood, binge watching certain TV series can chase away the blues by filling my head with other times, characters, and places. Two I have in mind are Wolf Hall and the Vikings. These fit my personal tastes and quirks. You need to find your happy places, and then go there.
Do Something Creative. I write books, I do wood carvings, I paint pictures, I do woodworking, and one of these days I will complete this bloody damned Jolly Roger pirate ship model I purchased. This all has to do with a very important thing to know about patience. Patience is not waiting; Patience is doing something else. If you sit there in black gloom waiting for "something" to lift your depression, you are going to be depressed or dead for a long time. Do something else: a hobby, dance, play uplifting music, fix a leaky faucet, stop that floor from squeaking, oil a hinge, make your bed, clean your room, MOVE YOUR ASS! Remember, if depression is out to get you, it is harder to hit a moving target.
Laugh. How can you tell a bank robber in a line at the bank? He's the only one not wearing a mask. Everyone's life has in it, funny moments. The world has funny moments. The Covid-19 Pandemic has funny moments. There was a politician on a video platform interview who interrupted one of his own answers by farting. The fellow's party spokesperson attempting to explain away the fart by saying the sound was produced by someone moving a coffee cup was even more hilarious. Have fun with the inconveniences. Humor has been the difference between staying alive and ending it uncountable times in my life.
Look For Beauty. Part of being grateful for being alive is to be able to appreciate beautiful and amazing things. Feeling miserable because of the cold and snow, look into the form and structure of single snowflakes. The wild turkeys feeding outside my window are some of the ugliest birds in creation, yet when the sunlight strikes their feathers they reflect amber, gold, and reddish brown colors. A happy face, someone who does a nice thing, someone wishing you a good morning: Beauty. I was told that if I look for shit, shit is all I am going to find. By the same token, if I search for beauty I am going to find a bunch of it, the existence of which helps make my life worth living.
If It Won't Cause You To Burst Into Flames, Pray. Twelve Steppers have what they call "Higher Powers." There is a very wide variety of entities that serve as HPs from off-the-rack (provided by religions) deities to various and sundry items from a piece of paper and teddy bears to the sky, mountains, rivers, oceans, runes, and amulets. It is the act of reaching out to something other than oneself for help that produces results. It is probably the most important tool in my getting out of depression toolbox, and it is usually the last one I try. I spent almost forty years in a war against the gods of humanity, and now, almost forty years later, I am still uncomfortable praying. I do it eventually, however, because it works.
Stay Safe, Stay Smart, and Choose Happiness.