Still no visa, but I’ve found a new contact to try. Anyway, a different ramble. So there are interesting problems when it comes to leaving the country. A major one I never thought I’d run into? Licensing differences in medicine.
I’ve never been particularly avoidant on the fact that I deal with depression, and there’s no need to start now. I know there will be other people in this situation that are trying to decide what to do. My main problem is that I’ve failed other antidepressants in my life and finally found that bupropion worked for me. I’ve been on it for the past 3 years and in the meantime have added good diet and exercise into my routine to help bolster my mental health. However… While in the United States it’s licensed to be given for depression as well as a smoking-cessation aid, it’s only licensed to stop smoking in the United Kingdom.
“But Kate, why don’t you just switch to another medication?” you ask. Well, this would be medication #4 for me, so honestly I’d rather just try going off it entirely instead of playing the “Try the Medicine” game again so close to leaving. I’ve spoken with my doctor and they’ve given me a weaning schedule, so I should be off and okay by the time I catch the plane. It’ll be fantastic if I can actually just stay off medicine, but if needed I can still have medicine shipped over for a year or go on something in the UK. A lot has happened to me in the last three years, and I have faith in myself that I can handle it, and if not that I can ask for help.
My doctor recommended making a list of the top ten things I recognize as depression symptoms, and another list of the top ten things I can do that will make me feel better. These will always be personal to me, but if you are someone who deals with this too, it’s a great idea honestly. I decided to write mine out on here so if nothing else I have somewhere to fall back on and find what helps keep me sane. Take it as a starting point for yourself if you’d like, by all means.
Ten Things to Do When Depression Strikes
- Call a friend. Go out in public. Go sit in a space with other human beings. Just being around other people forces me to stop feeling mopey and instantly evaporates the lurking feeling of isolation. Bonus points if you have the wonderful people in your life you can just talk out the feeling with until it passes, but if not you can always journal. Just getting the feelings into word form can make a difference.
- Go exercise. Walk, jog, swim – whatever is easiest to get to and gets you off your bum. I try to nip this in the bud by going for evening walks every night and catch up on my podcast news in the meanwhile. You get some exercise to make yourself feel better (especially if it’s your only major accomplishment of the day) and podcasts are excellent for shutting off that nasty little voice in your mind until the exercise effects kick in.
- Write out a schedule and stick to it. Having structure in your life isn’t as exciting as a grand spontaneous adventure, but having a checklist of what you need to do every day can greatly lower the heavy weight of apathy that tends to strike in the morning. Don’t torment yourself though – make sure you put in at least one thing you enjoy and look forward to.
- Can’t get ahold of friends? Don’t have any friends available quite yet? Get out of the house and do something, anything. Being a student is useful because there is nearly always something going on. Go to movie night. Learn to kayak in the pool. Heck, go play bingo. Get out, socialize, and stay busy!
- Eat well. Don’t restrict yourself to carrot sticks and salad, but eat something green every day. Cutting out excess amounts of grease and sugar makes a world of difference in how you physically and emotionally feel. I must repeat though – DON’T RESTRICT YOURSELF. Allow yourself some comfort food if you’re having a rough day, but limit it to 2 cookies instead of a sleeve for example.
- If your depression is being triggered by high stress, have some alcohol IN MODERATION. Yes, it’s a depressant, but at least for me it takes the anxiety down a good ten notches and the world just feels like a better place. If that’s not an option, tidy. Especially when you’re doing things that are more abstract, sometimes having an organized fridge is incredibly satisfying. Having a clean environment in general is good for coping, even if you are a clutterbug by nature. Sort it into boxes and enjoy a visually appealing living space while knowing your stuff is not being sacrificed to do so.
- Set silly goals and rewards. Make a list of things to be done and stick a reward at the end of each. Did you take a shower and make your bed? Have some of your special tea for breakfast. Finish the readings due by the end of the week? Go watch that movie you’ve been meaning to.
- Challenge your perspective. Convinced you aren’t really good enough to be where you are? Dissect the question and make a pro/con list if you want. Think you’ve irreparably annoyed someone you love? What did you do and what is actually the more reasonable response? Try to get in the habit of seeing life as an adventure and when the worst thoughts crop up about a situation, if you can’t think of a cheery result, at least think of a more realistic one.
- Volunteer. Help a stranger. Make your friend’s day. The phrase that giving is better than receiving is one of the truest I’ve known. You appreciate what you have more and seeing the smile on someone else’s face knowing that you instigated it is amazing.
- Change your vocabulary. Just little tweaks of your words are surprisingly powerful.