Life is hard no matter who you are or what you have going on. Throw in a mental illness or four and it can be nearly impossible to get through a day. So what are you supposed to do when you have class or work or a coffee date with an old friend, but you haven’t showered in days and the thought of getting out of bed physically hurts?
Well, there’s no cut and dry way to deal with these things, but I’ve picked up a few tips and tricks over the years that will hopefully make life bearable during tough times.
Those of you who have read my other stories may know that I suffer from bipolar disorder, and severe anxiety. I’ve also dealt with binge eating disorder, restricting, and a generally unhealthy relationship with food for most of my life, but thankfully, I’ve recovered mostly and am now living a much healthier life. If you didn’t know all of that, now you do. The advice I’m about to give you is coming from someone who knows exactly what you’re going through.
The first thing you should do is take any preventative measures you can. For me, this means trying to get a full night’s sleep every night, maintaining healthy eating habits, exercising every day, even if that just means taking a short walk, and taking your medications as prescribed. If therapy is helpful for you, make sure you go regularly. When I actively take care of myself, I’m less likely to slip into a manic or depressive episode, and when I do, it’s less severe than it could have been.
Be gentle with yourself. Don’t become discouraged if you have to cancel plans or you can’t fulfill whatever obligation you had that day. It’s okay. Even though some people don’t realize it, mental illness is just as serious as physical illness. If you had the flu, you’d call out of work for a day. If you have major depression, you’re allowed to do the same thing every once in a while.
When I’m in the middle of a particularly bad episode, I try not to sweat the small things. I don’t make my bed or worry about cleaning my apartment for a few days. I focus on what’s important, and I try to keep my to do list short and easy. My list usually consists of things like showering, brushing my teeth, and getting where I need to go. If I can’t get all dressed up for class, that’s okay. Going to class is enough, even if it means wearing sweatpants. Keep in mind, I attend fashion school, where wearing five inch heels to an 8:00 am class is not uncommon.
Put on a favorite movie, make some tea, meditate (even just for five minutes!!) or just play some music and take a nap. Being mentally ill can be exhausting, and while getting out of bed when possible will usually make you feel better, sometimes you really just need a nap before anything productive can get done.
No one’s perfect and life is messy. But not all hope is lost. Hopefully if you have the energy to try some of these tools on a bad day, you’ll get out of your rut and back to your usual self in no time.