Trigger warning: this piece discusses themes of depression.
When I was in the depths of my depression, I struggled with hygiene, leaving the house, and spending time out of my bed. The world seemed too scary to exist in, and I didn’t have the energy to try.
After a year of repeating unhelpful behaviours, I knew I needed to make some changes. Due to my autism, I’ve always struggled with change, and goal-setting overwhelms me. However, I took small steps forward that seemed achievable for where I was.
First, I tried to brush my teeth once a week which then progressed to once a day. Instead of getting out of bed at 3 pm, I consciously tried to get up by noon. I could get back into bed after this, but breaking the pattern helped to lift my mood.
Depression often makes a person feel purposeless or pointless, which is how I felt. To counteract the belief that I was useless, I wrote down one thing I had achieved that day. The size of the accomplishment didn’t matter because having a positive and firm fact about myself boosted my self-esteem. From then on, I did this every day.
These daily goals, which are now habits, have kept me afloat for the past six years. Some of them have developed, too. Now that I’m at a different stage in my mental health journey, I try to leave the house daily. My support worker and family help me with this. I encourage you to lean on your support system as they care about you more than you realise.
You can choose what habits you continue to participate in. Ask yourself, ‘Is this in alignment with the quality of life I want?’ If the answer is no, what can you replace that habit with that is in alignment? You don’t deserve a painful, empty life. You deserve to experience joy, comfort, and peace. I know how hard it can be to accept these things when everything in you tells you it’s not for you, but you wouldn’t deprive your best friend of it, so why are you any different?
What is one new habit you can try that brings you closer to your goals? I believe in you.
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