“Once I’m Feeling Down and Out, I Do This…”
I’m in the middle of a bad day – something that happens to many people in general, but possibly more often to people with ADHD due to our dysregulation of dopamine.
I describe down days as passing phases (usually a day or two) in which you are sucked into illogical feelings of depression, inadequacy, loneliness, failure, and hopelessness. You can feel weak, tired, worthless, lazy, useless, and dirty. I’ve found that down days come out of the blue or follow a very emotional and/or stressful stint – usually the latter.
The ADHD brain, which values relationships and is vulnerable to rejection-sensitive dysphoria, can easily become overwhelmed in emotional realms where neurotypicals seem to occur naturally. It can get really exhausting when we are faced with persistent frustrations.
[Free Handout: Get a Grip on Tough Emotions]
As a single freelance writer looking for accommodation in London, I’ve had some ups and downs in my work and personal life that have left me feeling overall inadequate lately. When I fall into this hole, all my past victories and achievements, and even the opportunities ahead, simply fade from view.
I’m currently struggling not to compare myself to my neurotypical peers who settle into houses with their successful long-term partners and have established, high-paying careers. Meanwhile, I wallow in shameless self-pity and resent the fact that I wasted so much time licking past wounds raw instead of becoming someone I respect more. Sometimes it feels like I’m walking a 12 mile walk home alone in the dark winter rain while everyone rushes past me in their fancy cars full of hot girls and champagne. I’m just exhausted, cold and can’t afford the bus.
I’m frustrated that my life didn’t take the “normal” route from school to the white picket fence, even though I did everything I was supposed to. I blame this on my ADHD, my bad past life choices, and the society and culture I sometimes don’t fit into which makes me feel powerless. At the same time, I know that my life is actually very exciting. I’ve done things most people will never get the opportunity to do – been loved by a Javanese princess, rode a whale shark, lived all over the world, wrote for world-class newspapers, taught talented students and continued navigating Europe Motorbike without a card. I’m lucky, my life is beautiful and I’m really grateful in general. I’m a hardworking, smart, pretty handsome man surrounded by incredible people who love me unconditionally. I also have a cat!
Still, there are still down days, and they still really suck. So here are 15 pieces of advice I would give to anyone struggling with a depressive episode like mine.
[Read This: How Do You Snap Out of a Bad Mood?]
15 ways to beat a bad day
- It’s your brain chemistry, not you. My brain tells me I’m a failure. Do these chemicals make me miserable and tired? Yes. Does this mean I deserve to feel depressed and unloved? Absolutely not. i deserve pizza
- You’re not alone. Everyone fights their own battle. Many people are like you and have similar fears and lows. The world is scary, adulthood is horrible, and we all fear failure while doing our best not to cry in public.
- Have a good cry. It sounds embarrassing and immature, but dear God, it’s good to let it all out! Just do it. Pro tip: cars are remarkably soundproofed.
- Sit like a Buddha and tilt your head up with your eyes closed. It’s an easy position that kind of elevates your mindset, which makes sense since there’s a lot more light in the clouds than there is on the ground.
- You are a good person and there is always someone or something that you positively influence. You are not a bad person. Nobody is perfect and everyone makes mistakes. After enduring my whining for days, my brother once said, “For what it’s worth, I love you. You are a good person who is always there for me. You mean a lot to me.” And that misquoted line still gets me through my dark days.
- To get dressed. Tuck your legs into your pants, put on your t-shirt. Ready. Now leave your bedroom and brush your teeth. Avoid looking in the mirror when you feel ugly. That’s all you need to do today, but there’s no harm in thinking about what’s next on the list once you’re at the top.
- Avoid social media and your phone whenever possible. It’s all a sham — no one actually having the time of their lives stops to take a picture and post it. It’s shallow, mindless nonsense filled with targeted advertising designed to make you feel inferior. Get rid of all phone notifications, including message read receipts. Leave your phone in another room – the urge to check it will make your anxiety worse.
- Do not use substances for relief. Think long-term: hangovers and comedowns perpetuate and delay depression. Be brave. Put on some upbeat music or a movie. Do a few push-ups and go to bed early. you have that
- Chop some vegetables. Cooking can be a daunting undertaking when you’re in a dark hole. Grab a cutting board, a knife and a vegetable. Then chop and place in a bowl or pan. It’s satisfying, sparks creativity, and you can eat the veg with your comfort food and not feel guilty afterwards!
- It’s okay to have a duvet day. Take the time you need to reconnect with yourself and feel your feelings. Letting your brain catch up with what’s going on in and around you and process it, that’s the sign of a sane mind, not a broken one.
- Don’t dwell on the past or people. Memories are not entirely correct. You may think your dead dog was great, but I bet the pooch pooped on the carpet and barked at night too. Nobody ignores you, they’re probably driving. Your ex is at home and not thinking about you. Never in human history has looking for an ex on social media made someone feel better about themselves.
- Everything is a moment that comes and goes to make way for another moment. You’ll be better tomorrow, if only a little. You’ve had those dips before, and you’ll have highs again, just not this second. Once I tried to surf. I’ve been on the waves for hours, sunburned, battered and nearly drowned while the locals effortlessly caught waves. Eventually I caught one and it was six seconds of pure exhilaration. you will get there
- Make crazy plans for yourself and don’t say “no” to new ideas. What are you doing tomorrow? No matter how strange something might sound like a lecture on wool, use any excuse to leave the house. Do a quick Google search to find something interesting.
- To write. Tapping out and editing what’s on your mind makes the complexities of the moment easier to understand and communicate. I also often read my past posts when I feel lost in dark times. It helps me ground myself as I can see how I’ve dealt with issues in the past.
- Shuffle who you lean on. Everyone wants to be there for you, but don’t expect them to drop everything just because you called. Remember that one person’s advice will not allow you to fully solve your problem. So the more people you reach out to, the better.
How to Get Out of a Funk on a Bad Day: The Next Steps
- self test: depression in adults
- To learn: After the Thrill – Avoiding a Hyperfocus Hangover
- Read: “What my worst days with ADHD feel like”
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