Blog

May1
2016

Fight for the Next Good Day

By Brit Barkholtz

For me, a day with depression often looks like this:

The alarm goes off, and I hit snooze. One, two, three times.

The air is too cold and the light is too bright and I can’t for the life of me think of any good reason to get out of bed. My bed is warm, safe.

My head and stomach hurt; I realize that I definitely didn’t eat enough yesterday. My body is sore, a physical manifestation of my mental exhaustion.

I remember that I canceled plans on someone last night. It’s only 8AM, but I already know I’m too tired to do anything tonight. I wonder what I need to bail on now. Should I call in sick to work?

You can call in “sick with the flu” but you can’t call into work “depressed as hell” so I’m either outright lying to my boss or I’m going into the office. Just the thought of asking for the day off makes my heart race and my mind panicky so this morning anxiety beats depression and I get out of bed to go to work.

I spend forever deciding what to wear, which is funny since it doesn’t matter—I think everything looks awful when I feel awful. But I pick my favorite skirt and shoe combination and top it off with bright red lipstick. Somehow that helps a little.

I get to work and finish my coffee as I settle in for the day. I enjoy some alone time before other people start to arrive, and I summon up my best fake smile. On one hand, every interaction with people today fills me with dread—I just want to be left alone. On the other hand, as I talk to people throughout the day, I do start to feel bit better as people ask how I’m doing, how my applications for school are coming, and what fun plans I have for the weekend. It’s tiring, answering all their questions, but their presence is strangely comforting.

The end of the workday finally rolls around, and I have a half an hour before I’m supposed to be meeting friends for happy hour. Happy hour…it’s an ironic event to go to when you’re this depressed. I spend 20 minutes of that half hour sitting in my car, debating whether to go or to cancel. I decide to go, and when I arrive I’m early – the only one there so far. My anxiety kicks into overdrive, wondering if they’re bailing on me. I wouldn’t blame them; after all, my depression reminds me that I’m worthless, a burden, and my friends don’t really like me anyway. But they arrive, and I am relieved to see this small “truth” of depression proven wrong. I am both overwhelmed and pleased to see my friends; I am still mentally exhausted, but being with them gives me energy. We talk about life, work, love, plans, and I start to feel the tiniest bit of the cloud inside me dissipate.

The sun is setting and, for as dark as my mood is, I have to admit that it’s beautiful. I pull into my parking spot at my apartment and sit in the car a minute longer to finish the song I’m listening to. I check my mail and see I have a letter from a friend. I set it on the kitchen table, knowing it will make me happy to read in the morning. I change into my pajamas and crawl into bed.

I pull out my book but after only a chapter I’m ready to sleep. I put on some music that reminds me of the ocean, and I take a deep breath.

Sometimes, when I’m depressed, it takes every ounce of strength I have to just get through the day. Days like these aren’t great. Honestly, most of the time they’re not even good.

But I get through them. I can get through these days, even if they aren’t pretty. And if I can get through those days, I know I can get through tomorrow. Some days, that’s all you can ask for.

Often, it’s hard to remember this. I have to consciously remind myself: Some days, the accomplishment is just getting through the day—and that’s OK. Stories of people doing big, awesome, important things while living with depression and anxiety are wonderful. They should be proud, and I am grateful for those who have stories like that to share. But it is 100% OK if surviving the day is the only thing you checked off your mental to-do list. That counts as a “big, awesome, important thing.”

There will be days like these. There will certainly be days worse than these. But a beautiful truth remains—there will be better days, too. There will be days you will laugh more than you cry. There will be days a smile creeps up on you and takes you by surprise.

I have a journal I like to look at on the bad days, and I use it to remind myself of the good days. It’s mostly notes and cards—words from people I care about, things that make me feel valued and loved. I hang on to these things to remind myself of the people and places and things that make me feel alive, the things I stick around for, the reasons I don’t let myself give up after a bad day. On bad days, on days where it feels like depression is going to win, these are the things remind me to hope for the next good day.

And there is reason for that hope: I know there will be better days.

So take care of yourself.

Do what you need to do to survive the day.

Meet yourself where you’re at.

Be kind to yourself.

And most importantly, fight for the next good day and hold on to the hope that the next good day will be the one that greets you in the morning.

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Comments (16)

  1. Nova

    How am I supposed to get through the day when friends, family, my boyfriend, and even ____ doesn’t bring relief from my depression anymore? How do I hope for the next good day when I’m supposed to be a college student, but I’m failing all my classes and have been for several semesters, and I don’t know what else to do?

    Someone please tell me. It’s hard for me to keep my head up day after day of living like this.

    Reply  |  
    1. Claire Biggs

      Hi Nova,

      We’re so sorry to hear about what you’re going through right now. We’d love to talk to you more about this. Will you please email us at info@twloha.com?

      In the meantime, please consider texting TWLOHA to 741-741. Our friends at Crisis Text Line are doing great work to help those who need someone to talk to right away. We also list resources here: https://twloha.com/find-help/local-resources/

      Reply  |  
  2. Bellla

    Bless you Brit, I see and admire your courage and strength
    God bless

    Reply  |  
  3. Cydney

    This was definitely the kind of uplifting thing I needed today.

    Reply  |  
  4. Liv

    This was incredibly encouraging to read because it’s just been “one of those days”. Thanks for the inspiration, and motivation!

    Reply  |  
  5. P

    I suffer from depression. Always it seems. But last year was the worst in my life. And I thought I could get through anything. I splt with my ex, he caused me so much trouble I just wanted to die, he’s bipolar and I didn’t know how to deal with him as he talked through me and said nasty horrible things. I couldn’t escape it. But I lost all the friends. And I just cannot get past that. I slid into such a deep depression and was leaving on an Asian solo trip and no one wished me well. No one. I don’t know how to move on and it’s breaking me.

    Reply  |  
    1. Claire Biggs

      Hi P,

      We’re so sorry to hear about how you’re feeling right now. We encourage you to reach out to someone you trust or call one of the numbers on our FIND HELP page if you need someone to talk to right now: https://twloha.com/find-help/local-resources/.

      We’d also love to send you some encouragement. Will you please email us at info@twloha.com?

      Reply  |  
  6. Kels

    I was contemplating acting on thoughts of self-harm because the past couple days have been extremely tough. Well, the last few years. This gave me what I needed to not act on those thoughts. Thank you.

    Reply  |  
    1. Chris

      It’s comforting to know I’m not alone. Today was hard but it’s almost tomorrow. <3

      Reply  |  
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  8. Beth Borchers

    Thank you for sharing your story! It helped me today as I have had a major set back and need to allow myself some time to heal. Thank you for letting me know it is ok to take some time for me.

    Reply  |  
  9. AI

    I so needed this today! Your story is so inspiring and has made my day so much better! Thank you Brit! May God Bless You!

    Reply  |  
  10. illi

    Thank you for sharing this. It really helps to know there are others who can relate. Depression and anxiety can feel so overwhelming at times, where it feels endless, like you just want it to escape from your body because it feels like too much. I just watched a video, the man said we try to escape it, go around it, not feel it, when intead of pushing those thoughts away, it helps to face them head on. I get this warm feeling inside as if a balloon has been inflated– facing those thoughts/concerns. The body feels warm and relaxes for a moment, breathing through it all. As an optimist, sometimes I feel like the most negative person in the world. But I remember “it doesn’t mean anything”, we give meaning to that which exists. I feel so ashamed, I’ve missed 2 weeks of work from this. Two of the days I went it, both times feeling progressively weak and can hardly stand. The phones ring and it feels like I’m being asked to pick up a spider. My heart races and I’m frustrated with myself and have to escape. The 2nd time I came in, I did my best while multiple people are wanting multiple things from me “right NOW”. I get overwhelmed and ask what needs to be done first, I can’t do it all at once. I took a 10 minute break (which I never do, normally I have so much work on my plate needing to get done ASAP and I just want to get it done and out of the way.) I took a 10 min break, I was exhausted, I had to lay down. I went into the work bathroom, pulled closed the curtain to the shower area, and sat in a corner to take a nap (bc without a car your napping place options are limited and when you’re that exhausted you don’t care). I was taken to the ER after my lunch break bc I could barely stand or walk without my knees buckling, and my body felt as if I just got out of surgery. The owner was there that day (he prev decided to retire and sold the company)- he was very kind and supportive about my health. I feel so guilty letting myself rest, no matter if I take the necessary steps to take care of myself by going to my naturopath to get blood drawn to test my thyroid since I have hypothyroidism, along with testing more. I’ve had a difficult time physically doing anything. Every morning I would get up to take my dogs outside to potty before I go to work, and by the time I get back inside I’m so drained I just drop and can hardly move, feeling weak. I feel like I need time to rest and recover but cannot stop beating myself up about missing work- like, how dare I? Taking care of myself is going to work and making money so that I can afford to pay my rent, bills, and food. Resting is putting me further begind financially, which in reality I’m spending more money than usual with going to the doctor and getting whatever medication will be required after getting my blood tests back. Went to a counselor that I will see weekly. All I can think about now is how to make w pretty penny to pay my rent after missing almost 2 weeks of work. My anxiety got so bad I’ve been afraid to leave my house, and to even talk to most ppl I know or don’t know. As someone who is great with her clients and friends, you would easily mistake me for an extrovert. I’m ok at the moment. But I’m battling with the feeling inside where I feel deep inner pain and it fucks with my mind. I acknowledge when my thoughts are not rational but the feelings are there nonetheless. And then putting myself down for being down, when has that ever helped? I don’t know what to do. I have to keep this job to pay for everything. It’s not minimum wage, which is so hard to find something that doesn’t pay minimal. I feel a wave of anxiety every time I think about work and all of the tasks that have to be done right away and it’s a lot of multitasking, problem solving, that I just cannot compute right now. And as for the customers, kind or unkind, it just feels like too much and the pressure’s on.

    I thought with healthy eating and exercise and relaxation, that I could finally manage these feelings and thoughts. But I can never seem to make my body untense. It just felt clenched all day, all night, until I’m asleep. No matter what I do. I am now to be taking a leave of absence. So now additional new stress: how to pay rent next month, along with food and medicine. I wish I could see the light at the end of the tunnel. I still have faith there is one.

    Reply  |  
  11. Claire Hancock

    What you have described mirrors my feelings too, powering through, but really wanting to hide away in the comfort of my bed hoping tomorrow will be different. Right now I’m actually at work with 15 minutes left to spare, after work I have a physio appointment for a hip injury caused through sport that refuses to go away, yet alone diagnosed by a doctor. It will make me feel better for a few weeks until my next session, but I can’t be arsed to go. The feel of my bed is too tempting. Yet this injury to my hip is a factor to my depression.

    The difference between my injury and my depression is that I know it will go away eventually with the help of the hospital and doctors, but my depression doesn’t seem to ever want to go away. Don’t get me wrong, I can go days, weeks and months feeling okay and stable, but it the back of my mind I know it’s a ticking time bomb. It will come back, I don’t know when or why, but it’ll come back. I feel that I can never escape this demon, it’ll loom in the background and then return at full force out of nowhere. I know that I can survive the next day, but I can’t cope with the weight and the pressure, physical pressure in my head anymore, but tomorrow is a new day, new opportunities and experience, just the same weight and pressure.

    Reply  |  
  12. angela

    boy does the beginning sound so like me, alot of the days here recently, i am on medication for depression, for bipolar for anxiety, and i still have so many days like you described, or /and nights, especially when i am alone, which is alot lately due to the fact my husband works out of state, and i have a 17 yr girl who is working and cheerleader and of course very popular so she is gone alot, so i not sure if i am also suffering from empty nest syndrome, but i know i need some kind of help and not sure what or where, i go to pyschiatrist every so many months and see a counselor every 2 weeks, but the month of june i havent been able to see him due to the fact he only works 2 days a week..

    Reply  |  
  13. Lori Canales

    Today, thank u

    Reply  |  
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