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An Almanac For The 21st Century

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How I Spent My Depression Vacation

How I Spent My Depression Vacation

I've been having a rough time of it lately. When you have a chronic illness, depression is something that you have to battle all the time. For people who suffer from depression, sometimes it's just in the background, completely ignorable. Sometimes it's like it's not even there at all. And sometimes it takes ahold of your life and obliterates all other things. I like start each day with a mental to-do list. This can include everything from work I need to do, to when I'll take Hero on a long walk, to chores I need to get done. For the past two weeks, this has been my entire daily to-do list: HANG IN THERE.

If I could manage anything else, I did it. But basically, I only fulfilled tasks that fell under the umbrella of "HANG IN THERE." It was an ultimate self-care time, and it was so, so necessary. Anyone who suffers from depression knows that there are peaks and valleys, and I feel like I was just in the ditch everyone in the valley throws their trash in. I'm crawling out of it now, and I'm feeling better, but very slowly. I like to share any means for dealing with pain or forced downtime or a bout with mental illness in hopes that it can help someone else find a distraction from what's going on in their life. So, here's what I did on my depression vacation!

Cross Stitchin'

I'm not the best cross stitcher, but I am an avid cross stitcher. I got into it a few years ago when I saw a project I thought a friend of mine would like, and I thought, "Well, I guess I'll just make that then." So I did. I think that's why cross stitching is a great hobby - you can just decided to give it a whirl with no experience with needlecraft whatsoever, and there's every possibility you'll end up with a great gift for a friend. Plus, it's a cheap hobby. Flosses are less than 50 cents each, fabric is around $10 (and that's for an amount that will likely span multiple projects), and Joann and Michael's always have at least 40% off coupons. Even patterns don't cost that much  - between $3 and $5. If you're low on disposable income and are looking for a distraction, consider cross stitching. There are amazing pattern makers out there that are coming up with some really amazing designs.

My favorite place for patterns is an Etsy shop called Plastic Little Covers. I've finished three of her patterns so far, including the one pictured above. I was looking for what felt like forever for a good pattern featuring Bianca Del Rio's glorious soundbite, "Not today, Satan. Not today," so when I saw the most gorgeous pattern go up on PLC I basically lost my damn mind and couldn't click "buy" fast enough. It was the most labor intensive project I've ever completed, but I did it! I don't know how long it took me, because I tend to measure how long I work on things in TV show episodes, a trick I learned from my parents. When I was a little kid I'd ask how much longer it'd be before we reached our destination on car rides, and sure, my parents could say "an hour, " but I was a small child and an hour was a meaningless unit of measurement to me. Instead they'd say, "two episodes of Pee Wee's Playhouse," because that was something I could comprehend. My "Satan Cross Stitch," as I began calling it, took me through all of Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries and the majority of Black Sails. I'd watch occasional episodes without stitching in my hands, but even so, that's a lot of hours. But as I said, I'm not the most skilled cross stitcher. I'm sure this pattern could be completed much faster by a pro. But I like doing it, and even when I mess up or it's slow going, it keeps my mind off everything else going on in my life, which can be a real relief.

Comforting YouTube Videos

I wasn't sure what to call this little section. There are three videos I wanted to share - two of them make me laugh out loud every time I watch them (and I've watched them countless times), and one of them is a commercial for a dating website that makes me ridiculously happy. I went with comforting. I'm not married to that, but it's what I'm going with. Sometimes when you're feeling like hot garbage it's nice to take five minutes and watch a short video that reminds you that there are nice things in the world. Here are three videos that do that for me.

A Cup of Hot Tea

When I'm feeling a bit anxious or depressed, I find a nice cup of hot tea to be really soothing. I don't know if it's the tea or the ritual or both, but it really works. I have my favorite mug and my favorite tea, and together we can conquer the world manage the next 20 minutes. FYI, my favorite mug was a gift, and it is the perfect size and perfectly balanced and also perfect because it reminds me of the lovely people that gave it to me. My favorite tea is Yogi Tea's bedtime tea, because it smells like a wonderful memory (although I can't quite articulate what that memory is. I'm not trying to be literary and vague here - I have wracked my brain trying to figure out what the hell this tea reminds me of, and I have no idea). I add a little honey to it, because I enjoy honey.

If any of these things help you though one of your valleys, then I'm glad. And maybe all you got out of this is that someone else has valleys (or the ditch everyone in the valley throws their smelly trash in!), and that's good too! We can be each other's trash ditch pals. And allow me to leave you with this little reminder: If you're going through a time when the only item on your daily to-do list is "HANG IN THERE" and you reach the end of the day and you hung in there? CONGRATULATIONS! YOU FUCKING CRUSHED IT! YOU ARE THE CHAMPION OF THE DAY!

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