Depression is a sneaky monster, but for many, it is a predictably sneaky monster. It can get bigger, louder, and in-your-face at specific times of day, most days.
For some people, it is first thing in the morning, there might be a glimmer of “new day” but then the stomach sinks and we feel the hole swallowing us up again. For others, it is mid-afternoon, a couple hours after lunch when our energy for the day is flagging, when we get bored and tired and all we want to do is crawl under the desk and hide away. For others it is night time, when our mental and emotional energy is out of sync with the energy of our bodies. The pit gets deeper and the negative thoughts get louder and harder to see past.
It can be helpful to be aware of these patterns, knowing for yourself when the low times are more likely. Knowing that it is coming can help take its sting away and give you the power to call it out for what it is, to say “I see you there, and I don’t care. I’m going to be true and good to myself, and you can’t stop me.”
It can be helpful to be aware because sometimes a low mood may be our body trying to tell us that we need something, that we’re lacking something, such as food, water, or exercise. It may be a sign of frustration between our body’s energy and our mind’s energy, when our body is tired but our mind is still cranking away (or vice versa), inviting us to tune in and see what we can do to get them lined back up. This might include more exercise during the day if our bodies have more energy than mind, or it might include mindfulness or meditation (not rumination) to calm down energetic minds.
It can be helpful to be aware, so that we can create routines and plans of action to give you strength and peace. For instance, if your depression monster comes after you in the afternoon, you might plan ahead to schedule time for a snack, a big glass of water, and a walk around the block, or to plan to have a phone call with a friend or your therapy appointment around that time of day. If it comes more at night, having a peaceful night time routine can be helpful as well, such as curling up with a soft blanket and a cup of tea to read until you’re sleepy or having a mindfulness practice that you do after crawling into bed.
Instead of depression grabbing your hand and pulling you down regularly at the same time every day, it can be time to take extra care of yourself, nurture yourself, and show yourself the compassion and love you need. Take that time back and make it special, make it yours.