Author: Trevor Simonson
Living with bipolar disorder can become very tiresome, especially when I am experiencing a depressive episode. Everything becomes difficult, even the menial tasks of everyday life. I do my best to keep a positive attitude even through the dark fog of depression. Remaining positive is key for me and goes hand in hand with staying hopeful. I feel that it is important to always hold on to hope.
The pressure of keeping up with life during a depressive episode exhausts me. Feeling isolated and sluggish is not a recipe for productivity. I have put a lot of effort into recovery and developed many coping strategies to improve my mental health but sometimes coping skills become ineffective in the face of a deep depression. It feels like I am trying to break through a brick wall with a teaspoon.
It always helps for me to take a step back during the difficult times to remember how far I have come, and all the things that I am grateful for in my life. It helps to ease up on myself, to stop trying so hard to be productive and successful. This can lead to burnout. I try to stay focused on the basics. The simple things take center stage. I focus on these basic needs: eating, sleeping, exercising, and simply breathing. I trust that when I keep my foundation strong, I will be able to take care of life’s other aspects in due time. Perseverance is crucial. If I am still fighting, then I am winning.
Depression can eat away at my sense of self worth. Noting all the things that I am doing well is important for me. I look at every completed task as a victory, no matter how insignificant it may seem. Waking up, eating breakfast, brewing coffee; these are all victories. They prove that I am alive and that I can still function. Focusing on victories really helps my self esteem. Long term goals take a back seat to the satisfaction that I get from going on a walk or getting groceries. I simplify my goals and celebrate all my successes, great or small.
As a society we can become lost in the chase of material wealth and success. Our mental health is often overlooked. We set high expectations for ourselves and lose focus on our foundation. Our foundation consists of all things vital to our mental health. This can be family, friends, hobbies, meditation, or relaxation time. Not all foundations look the same, but they all must be cared for. We cannot properly grow without a solid base to work with. If we take care of the simple things, then we will be able to succeed at our other aspirations in our lives.
Trees are a great example at looking after the things close to us. The roots of a tree must be properly nourished. Then the tree will expand, and new branches will grow with time. If we take care of ourselves, then we will be able to be productive and reach new heights.
Life is really a string of small victories. These victories gradually lead to more inward and outward growth. Do not overlook small victories. They deserve to be celebrated.
If you are still fighting, you are winning.