In the battle against mental illness, talk therapy and medication are important weapons. Equally important, however, are the things you do when you are not at the doctor’s office. In some ways, these may be more important because you spend most of your time outside the doctor’s office. But, a lot of times you need to think up these things yourself. Your doctor can tell you in a general sort of way what you should be doing. She will probably give you advice such as:
- Get together with friends.
- Get out of the house and do stuff.
- Make time to do things that you enjoy.
The problem is, she can’t tell you which friends you should get together with or what you all should do together or what you should do when you get out of the house or what sorts of things that you enjoy that you should be making time to do. She can help you out, but the ideas really have to come from you.
Now, my doctor has known me for years. So, she has a pretty good idea of the kinds of things that I enjoy doing and will ask me if I’ve been doing those things and encourage me to do them. For instance, she might suggest that I knit because in the past I’ve talked about how much I enjoy knitting and how therapeutic I find it. Still, she can’t tell me what project to work on that will be the most relaxing or the most satisfying, only I can know that for myself.
The thing is, when you’re depressed, you don’t want to do any of those things. First of all because you have no motivation and secondly because depression often makes it so that you lose the ability to actually enjoy anything (this is called anhedonia, there is a very good description of it here) which makes you even less motivated to do anything.
One of the components of my recovery has been trying to get myself to do things (like leaving my apt) that I really don’t feel like doing but that I know have made me feel good in the past. For instance, last Monday, after Husband left to go back to California, I made myself go downtown to the yarn store and buy a couple balls of yarn for a simple knitting project.
Now, I have more than enough yarn in my apt. But, I know that I need to get out of my apt. It was very hard to make myself do it. I don’t have a car, so I had to take the bus. Since I really hate being around people when I’m depressed, the thought of getting on a bus with lots of strangers that I may be packed against is really, really not appealing. But (and this is a key point), it wasn’t nearly as bad as I thought it would be. And, I enjoyed being at the yarn store and petting the cashmere yarn and seeing the friendly people there.
So, in an effort to continue to getting better, earlier this week I made plans with R to go out for afternoon tea at a fancy-pants hotel on Saturday (today). The weekends are really bad for me because I have a tendency to hole up in my apt. and lay in bed which is really not healthy. One way to avoid this is to make plans to do something with someone. Having company is important because I don’t like to cancel on people because I don’t like to disappoint them, so I will still go out even if I don’t feel like it.
I have to say, I highly recommend going for afternoon tea as emotional therapy. It’s not cheap, so I can’t do it often, but it is absolutely worth it. Why?
- You have to dress up a little (because it’s at a fancy-pants place) and doing so always makes me feel better about myself.
- Everyone there is extremely friendly and polite. Everyone. I have yet to go to one of these places and not have every employee I encounter smile at me.
- The food is good and surprisingly filling even though it’s finger sandwiches and tiny scones and cute little pastries.
- There is an aura of tranquility and civility in these places that I have rarely found anywhere else.
I actually have never seen Breakfast at Tiffany’s, but I’ve read the book. In the book, Holly Golightly explains why she likes going to Tiffany’s by saying that it’s the kind of place you feel like nothing bad could ever happen there. This is how I feel about tea.
Nothing bad could ever possibly happen to me while I’m at tea.