In addition to self-compassion, I share with my clients the concept of protecting their energy. When a person is diagnosed with depression, there are some days where just getting out of bed will take an enormous amount of energy. This is why acknowledging and protecting your energy is important as a person with depression never knows how much energy they will have on any given day until they wake up. For a person who is not diagnosed with depression, they can depend on waking up with about the same percentage of energy everyday even when they are a bit tired. For a person with diagnosed with depression, every day is different. One day you may wake up with 90% energy to disperse throughout the day and some days you wake up with 10%. Either way you have to make conscious decisions on whom, what and how you want to disperse that energy. For those with depression, daily tasks such as showering and eating can take a significant amount of energy. In addition, some of the energy will be needed to utilize coping skills (journaling, thought stopping, opposite actions, mindfulness, etc.).
The overall goal is to take a moment to acknowledge what is in your Personal Energy Account each day without judgment, comparison or criticism, just radical acceptance (a term I can explain in a different article). Be mindful that each activity, even ones such as getting out of bed and getting dressed, will take from your energy reserve, sometimes more so than others. Therefore you giving “your all” will look different on different days. If you woke up with 30% energy in your personal energy account, then taking a shower, getting out of bed and accepting a phone call from a friend (avoiding isolation) may be your best for that day. On another day when you have more energy you may be able to go out with friends, complete chores, and interact with your children. This is what makes many on the outside feel like depression is a choice. “You were fine yesterday, why can’t you be like that today,” is what you may hear from friends and family. In these moments it is important to remember your Personal Energy Account. Just like your personal bank account, everyone doesn’t know what how much you have. There are times you may have to turn down dinner or a trip out of town or compromise eating at a certain restaurant if you need to save and/or don’t have the money to cover it. At those times you may tell those asking “I’m on a budget” or “I will have to pass on this trip.” It is the same concept with your energy and mental health. There are days you may say, “My energy is low today so I’m choosing to stay in and focus on me” or “Today has been a challenge, I’m open to you stopping by for lunch however I am not open to going out to lunch to day.” Some days may be harder than others and that’s okay.
Taking an assessment of your Personal Energy Account each day and allowing self-compassion will definitely make a difference. The goal is to notice the depression, however avoid going down the rabbit hole of despair. Acknowledging your Personal Energy Account reduces the chance of you reaching that very very dark place.
For those without depression, I will give you this example. Would you perform your daily duties (etc., chores, work expectations, homework, etc.) with the same enthusiasm, quickness, and motivation on a day you had a severe migraine versus the days you don’t? Probably not, you more than likely would move more slowly, it may take you longer and take more of your energy to complete tasks, or you may even just call off from work/school and just rest because the migraine is so painful. This is what having depression is like. No one plans to have a migraine, it just happens. Sometimes you can push through your day despite the migraines and sometimes you may remain in bed trying to relax hoping that helps. For those who have depression, this is their day to day challenge.
So how do we pour into our Personal Energy Account? We make Emotional Health Deposits!! Though each day is different, there are things we can do in support of our Personal Energy Account. Emotional health deposits such as therapy, mindfulness, exercise, medication, daily affirmations, healthy boundaries, having support systems and being aware of things that trigger depression are a few of the many ways to aid in ensuring that your Personal Energy Account stays active. If a bank account has no activity the bank will close it down, it’s the same with our Personal Energy Account. Those emotional health deposits are necessary for your overall mental health.