Two weeks ago I woke up pretty depressed. I knew what it was because I’ve battled depression for 20 years. Of course, for many years now, it hasn’t played its part like it used to. It has been a good 7 years since I’ve just laid in bed crying or had absolutely no motivation to do anything. I’ve struggled. I’ve grown. I’ve learned. And the most important thing I’ve learned is that when I start to feel depressed, I have a choice. I can let those feelings drag me down into a pretty nasty spiral or I can fight. I can win my way out of the darkness if I recognize it early and take action. So that is what I did.

As soon as I realized what was happening I thought, “Kiersten, you can let this take control of you or you can take control of it. What do you need to do today to take care of yourself and heal?” You see, if I had broken my arm that morning, I would have rushed to urgent care to see a doctor and spent time and energy to have it heal quickly. But we don’t always do that with mental illness. We just keep thinking that we can ignore it and it will go away. It’s not so. I need to give the pain immediate attention so that which is broken does not break me.

So, I called a friend and asked if her son could come play that afternoon. I know. This doesn’t sound right. But I needed her son to keep my son busy that afternoon so I could get a few things done and feel better. In the end, she offered to let my son go to her house. Just knowing that I would have a few minutes to tackle a few action items on the “Kiersten” list was enough to lift my spirit that day. I spent the morning excitedly getting things done for my family and home because I knew my time was coming. And it did. I spent the afternoon working on things for myself. Filling my cup. Taking care of Kiersten. She needed it. I felt more energetic and my anxious nerves calmed.

It wasn’t a big thing. I didn’t make any miraculous progress that day but it was just enough of what I needed to heal. It was enough of a boost to create some momentum for the following days and keep me from heading the opposite direction. Broken bodies need rest, exercise, and repair. How can we believe that broken minds don’t require the same care? So find something to heal you. What would bring a smile to your face? What time, energy, and resources do you need to heal? Find them. Make them. Whatever it takes. Just heal. Rest if you need to. Forget about the to-do list because, quite honestly, it isn’t going to get done anyway if you’re depressed.

Visit a friend. Go for a walk. Read a book. Take a nap. Meditate. Exercise. Work on a project. Practice a skill. Enjoy a hobby. Indulge in some chocolate. Garden. Dance. Listen to music. Play with your dog.

Just don’t ignore it! Don’t pretend it’s going to go away without rest, exercise, and repair. Take care of your Self and heal. I promise that today- and every day- you will be stronger.