I’m not the one these things happen to, as I’m generally a pretty happy-go-lucky type. I don’t get upset easily and I have a lovely and very satisfying life.
The depression began after I had been diagnosed with plantar fasciitis, a very painful inflammatory foot condition. Placing any weight on the sole of my right foot was completely excruciating.
For the first few weeks, it was distracting enough to figure out how to work around the injury. I had to wear an attractive inflatable cast. But weeks turned into months, and suddenly I found myself having to take pain medication all day just to remain functional. I would lie in bed and weep. This would become the appearance of my days: I would wake up, decide it was too difficult to move, then I would just cry.
The sadness seemed to color everything. It was summer and I was so focused on my own pain that I could barely get through my days and care for myself. The dark feelings took on a life of their own—or better stated, took over my life. I forgot what it was like to have any real plans and I was just existing. In short, I was depressed.
For a Latina woman, particularly a mother, this “new normal” was completely unacceptable. I was groomed to handle anything and everything without complaint, yet here I was feeling sorry for myself as my world shrank around me.
I am a lucky soul. I have friends—the kind of friends who love me so much that they wouldn’t let me stay in this dark place. I can finally see light at the end of the tunnel. I have more good days now than bad ones. I’m still just taking it one day at a time. Depression happens, but it doesn’t define my life anymore.
These lessons are what I learned about how to combat the sad moods:
1. Start your day with a routine
Get up, make your bed, get dressed, wash your face, put on lipstick. These seemingly small acts of self-care will eventually become the norm. A day will come when you won’t have to remind yourself to do these things. Any small victory will do when fighting depression.
2. Eat something
The key is to eat every few hours so your body gets what it needs. Depression can go two ways: You either constantly eat junk or don’t eat at all. Taking the time to feed yourself, even when you don’t really feel like it, goes a long way toward getting well.
3. Get out and move
It seems so cliche to tell you to exercise. In my particular case, I couldn’t walk without pain, so exercise seemed completely out of reach. So, I went to the pool at our local YMCA. I managed to hobble into the water and just splash around, but I was out of the house, in the sunshine and moving. My brain seemed to recognize this as a positive thing and the fog began to lift.
4. Take any help offered to you
My family and friends picked up a lot of the slack from fixing meals to driving me places.This is a difficult one, particularly for those of us who are high-functioning and Latina. There’s the element of shame that we don’t have our act together. Get over it! Don’t rob someone else of the blessing of giving.
5. Reach out to friends
Even if it’s a long-distance friend, reach out to someone you trust. Getting out of your own head is important and you won’t feel so lonely and sorry for yourself. Don’t beat yourself up. Just get some help.
6. Talk to your doctor
Your depression may just be situational, but if the dark moods continue it may be a signal that you need medication—even if only for a short period of time. Sometimes talking to a professional may be necessary. Check with your healthcare provider to see if this is the best course for you.