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sick of being sick, how to keep my chin up?
July 20, 2012 9:55 PM   Subscribe

I'm sick and depressed and I don't know how to stop it

I've had the worst year ever - three separate, consecutive major injuries - one that meant I had to quit my sport, which was my favourite thing in the world, one that cost me my job, and a third that forced me to take a week and a half off my new job cos I couldn't walk, and has meant I've been unable to run (best way for me to get in a good headspace) for 2 months. Finally, my foot seems pretty much healed, but I've had flu for the past 2 weeks. I can't go to work when I'm sick because I work with people with compromised immune systems. I've spent soooo much money on diagnosis and treatment for my injuries, and have no sick leave accrued in my new job. I'm lucky that my parents are helping me out financially but I'm 28 years old and just want to get ahead and be independent again and feel like a "real" adult with something to contribute and be proud of. I live alone and 2 friends have come to visit while I've had flu but I'm a very social, physically active person so this flu is really wearing me down emotionally. I've had some success with choosing to be positive etc but it's challenging to maintain and I'm starting to wonder if my luck really will turn around, cos I've told myself it would so many times this year already. I feel like I HAVE to get better by tomorrow but I'm afraid I won't (I still had a temperature last night). Rationally I know that there's nothing I can do about that this but I feel almost embarrassed that this is happening and it's somehow my fault. I don't want to burden my friends with more of my depressed complaining cos I've already relied on them so much. I want to get back to being the positive person I generally am but I feel overwhelmed. The things I'd usually do (exercise, go spearfishing, partying etc) are off the table. The only things I can think of to do might be write letters/cards to send to my friends to surprise them. I feel really unmotivated to do anything at all, even watch a movie, cos what's the point? I just want to be better so I can get on with my life. How can I accept this situation and stop being so afraid I'll lose my job if I have to call in sick for a few more days? How can I stop feeling like this all reflects poorly on me? How can I reassure myself that I will get better? What things can I do to create and maintain a positive mindset when I'm sliding back into being depressed?
posted by lifethatihavenotlivedyet to Health & Fitness (5 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
 
I'm very sorry you're having a bad time right now.

For this moment - just this moment - I suggest you call these people. What you're feeling is a little bit of a natural reaction to stress, but might also be your brain's chemistry going a bit haywire (feel free to MeMail if you want to know more about what that's like.) It's very important at times like this to recognize that:

1. What you're feeling is legitimate, but your feelings don't say anything permanent or true about anything eternal or your worth as a human being or what tomorrow's really going to be like (no matter how much it may seem like that.)
2. It is really worth doing things that you "would enjoy if only..." even if right now you're super unmotivated to do any of them.
3. "The Point" is something that you can put off till later. Big questions about life, the universe, and everything can be put off till later. Right now your job is to take care of yourself.

I strongly - strongly strongly strongly - suggest that you do the following things in the next two hours, if you haven't done them in the last six hours:

1. Take a shower or bath.
2. Drink a glass or two of water.
3. Stand outside and breathe deeply for a few minutes.
4. Consume about 250 calories of actual food (drinks don't count.)
5. Talk to a real human being for at least five minutes about anything substantial - this is a low standard; I mean talk to someone about politics or cats or Harry Potter or the weather, but not about how much change they owe you.

Make sure that in any six hour period you do most of these things, and in any 24 hour period you do ALL of these things.

It will get better.

I find that when I can't really get myself to do anything, I can usually color pictures I've printed from the internet. I can also give people advice on MetaFilter. ;) Try to come up with a very quick list of things that seem possible to do - not necessarily super fun, but things you can see yourself managing to accomplish - and then knock them off, one at a time. Make sure that eating, bathing, etc., are all on the list.

The last few months I've had a hard time doing much more than getting out of bed, eating, watching some TV, and going back to bed. But I know this is temporary for me, and I know it's temporary for you, too.

Feel free to MeMail if you want to. Also, see this Wiki page.
posted by Fee Phi Faux Phumb I Smell t'Socks o' a Puppetman! at 10:09 PM on July 20, 2012 [19 favorites]


Oh - and you don't have to be better by any set time. I promise. All you have to do is try to take care of yourself, try to ask for help, and try to accept the help you're given.
posted by Fee Phi Faux Phumb I Smell t'Socks o' a Puppetman! at 10:11 PM on July 20, 2012


I feel really unmotivated to do anything at all, even watch a movie, cos what's the point?

For me, video games help for an illness. They're mentally engaging, but don't require a lot of physical energy. Legend of Zelda games in particular have taken the edge off of things like the flu and wisdom teeth recovery.

I just want to be better so I can get on with my life. How can I accept this situation and stop being so afraid I'll lose my job if I have to call in sick for a few more days?

If you really are working with immunocompromised people, hopefully there's someone there who understands why it makes sense for you to not come into work. I'd suggest calling someone at your job and leveling with them about what's going on and asking for the chunk of time off in advance, and asking about what to do about documentation and communicating about your progress. If they decide to fire you, then it's something that would have happened anyway, though I suspect they won't, and if they don't fire you, it's something you'll get off your chest with the phone call.

How can I stop feeling like this all reflects poorly on me? Because everything that happened was beyond your control.

How can I reassure myself that I will get better? You've recognized that a ton of this is situational, tied to things like injuries and illnesses. If that connection is really there, then you'll start to feel better after you are able to resume your life.

What things can I do to create and maintain a positive mindset when I'm sliding back into being depressed? Maybe you could make a schedule to break your unstructured time down into chunks filled with activities you can handle, even with the flu. Can you go for a short walk around the block? Call people you haven't spoken to in awhile and catch up and make some plans for when you feel better?
posted by alphanerd at 10:19 PM on July 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


Get grateful. It sounded silly to me at first, but it works like a champion.

Two ways you can do it:

1) Gratitude journal. Each day, write down three things you are thankful for. New things, things that have happened in the last 24 hours. And then in a paragraph, write down one positive experience.

For example, I had an iPhone 4 stolen the other day. That night, one of my gratitudes was that I had an iPhone 3 ready to go. I painstakingly set it up for a guest last year, and was so happy to have a fully-loaded phone, so that the stolen one became an inconvenience rather than a derail. I am so grateful for that.

The point of the gratitude exercise is to change your mind from constantly identifying 'badness' and instead identify 'goodness'. If you do it for 21 days without fail, I predict your slump will be at least substantially lightened.

2) Gratitude letters. Since your shored up right now, write a page or two to people who have helped you in some way, at some point in your life. It can be recent or long past. It can be for something tiny or small. You will make their day and you will feel immensely better and happy. Do it on paper.
posted by nickrussell at 12:45 PM on July 21, 2012 [1 favorite]


Try not to take these feeling of depression too seriously. Let them be. It's natural to feel depressed when you're sick, especially with the flu. It's a symptom of the illness -- even animals look depressed and lie about doing nothing when they're sick.

When your body needs extra rest to heal, depression is a protective thing, because it robs you of the energy or inclination to be doing things that would divert your energy from healing. Give yourself permission to listen to your body and slow down til you feel better. No one says you have to keep your chin up when you're sick. Chins have ups and downs, and this an appropriate time for a down.

The point of watching the movie is just to pass the time, and it doesn't need any more point than that. Sometimes when you're sick, all you can do is wait it out. A decent movie will take your mind off your misery, and chances are that you'll feel a little better when it's over.

Hope you're soon on the mend.
posted by Corvid at 2:12 PM on July 21, 2012 [1 favorite]


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