I’m not a therapist, so all of the following advice is just a collection of ideas. Nothing more, nothing less. Try at your own risk.
Since no therapist has been able to give me useful advice on how to deal with or even get out of that very numb, very lethargic, very „zero energy“ state that depression causes yet, what else can I do other than try and find solutions myself. It’s either that or giving up. And I think I’m not ready to give up just yet.
So, how can you take care of yourself when you’re in that dark place where everything is too much?
1) The first (and maybe the most important) step is to just accept it (I’m still working on that one)!
Your depression is trying to tell you something. You’re exhausted for a reason, you’re at this point for a reason. Trying to swallow it down (if you’re still capable of doing that, that is) will make it worse in the end because you’re denying yourself what you really need.
2) Just breathe
The next step could be to observe your breathing. I know, that’s what everybody and their mother tells you, but there’s a reason for that. I’m not an expert in pranayama/breathing exercises or anything, you will need to find a good (yoga) teacher for that, but I’m going to share my basic findings:
When my mind is racing and just won’t stop, my breathing automatically gets very shallow, and/or I suck my belly in unconsciously, which has all kinds of negative effects on the whole body. So maybe just try and put your hands on your belly and breathe in and out evenly, filling both the belly and the chest with each inhalation and emptying both the belly and the chest with each exhalation. Feel the movement under your hands. Focus on that. You’re alive. You’ll be okay.
3) Get in touch with your emotions
If you’re numb and you’re desperate to release some emotions, try dvds of pop/rock concerts (or whatever kind of music you like) or even just some Youtube clips of live performances of songs that move you deeply (Sarah McLachlan, Adele and Dishwalla do the trick for me most of the time). Also, you could try and watch some funny stuff. It will probably not cheer you up in the long run, but at least it might make you laugh and forget about the rest for a second or two. I highly recommend „Off Their Rockers“, a British comedy series, and everything Ellen DeGeneres, especially her monologues. And then there’s movies… my go to movie when I can’t feel anything or when I’m just super uninspired and/or when my low self esteem gets the best of me is Disney’s „Frozen“, but I know that’s not for everyone ;)
4) Awaken your senses
Maybe just change the light in the room that you’re in. If you have a lamp that can change colors (highly recommended), set it to a color that helps you to lift your mood a little (try orange or red), or to one that calms you down (maybe blue or lavender)…
For inspiration on how each color affects us psychologically, go here:
http://www.arttherapyblog.com/online/color-psychology-psychologica-effects-of-colors/#.VU9CjRedHD8 (scroll down for detailed descriptions of each color)
http://www.arttherapyblog.com/online/color-meanings-symbolism/#.VU9CrBedHD8 (scroll down for detailed descriptions of each color – this one is very detailed!)
I could also suggest to „go outside and soak up some sunshine“, but I know full well that at this point, you’re probably way to lethargic to even consider leaving the house. So, if you have a balcony, a terrace or even a window sill that’s in the sun, awesome, go and get an extra dose of Vitamin D.
Maybe you can’t stand the light. Then go back to that darkened the room with the blue lamp. That’s okay.
The same way you use light you can use scent as well! Light some scented candles, or use that conditioner with the scent you love so much (guess it’s a good idea to stock up on these things in not so depressed times).
Getting out of bed might seem like the hardest thing you had to do in years, let alone climb in the shower, so the very least you can do is reward yourself with something that smells good (and makes you smell just as good in the process. It’s all about loving yourself!)
5) Hang out ;)
What I do of course is use my aerial yoga hammock. Definitely not in a very active way – remember, we’re talking about a state of zero energy. But just lying in the hammock, feeling the gentle sway (which has a calming effect – there are studies to prove it!) and listening to some music or some sort of guided meditation can soothe my troubled mind and stop the thoughts that are going round in circles in my head.
Some of these ideas obviously are not very useful when you really feel like you can’t do anything but lie still. And I still don’t know how to actively pull myself out of that state (maybe because „actively“ and „no energy“ don’t go together very well). But in those moments when you feel like you might be able do the tiniest thing, maybe try some of the above… and if any of it helped, I’d be super happy if you could drop me a line :)
I think I might write a sequel to this post for those of you „on the other side“… about how to take care of a friend/loved one who suffers from depression. Anyone interested in that?