Whether you’ve been professionally diagnosed with depression or anxiety, or you’re just straight up PMSing, feeling down can be debilitating. As someone who has battled clinically diagnosed anxiety for years and as someone who has started birth control for the first time ever (The Pill to be specific) my moods have been, well, all over the fuckin place to be perfectly blunt. There are so many myths about birth control and I’ll admit that I’ve been completely swept up in every horror story ever posted in chatrooms, YouTube videos, and even other blogs. I’m slightly over a month into birth control now (a very low dose of estrogen) and I’ve begun to notice the extremely enhanced fragility of my emotions. Yes, I have had a history of anxiety and no I never did medicate myself for it (a personal choice). To overcome anxiety, it took years of a little bit of soul searching and major self care (totally an entirely different blog post I should be writing). Anyway, I’ve ruled out my history of anxiety as it has not pestered me in about 2 years.
Random spells of depression can be triggered by a number of things. One, as I’ve just mentioned is the actual cognitive factor–do you suffer from diagnosed depression or anxiety? Of course, that can always be a culprit for sudden sorrow. But if you’re like me and have not had symptoms in years and you’re suddenly weepy, lethargic, and pessimistic, for no good reason (i.e nothing horrendous going on in your life like a breakup, a death in the family, family drama, friend drama, etc). This form of “depression” (note: I am no longer referring to depression as a mental illness) can be beyond frustrating. It is a type of moodiness that is very indicative of PMS, and often listed as a side effect of birth control.
Today, I had one of these days. I woke up with an agenda and maybe got through 25% of it before this wave of depression hit and I couldn’t do a single thing but lay down and sob. Generally, I’m not a negative or a sad person so I was determined to pull myself out of it. Here are a few little things I did for myself that made a huge difference in my day:
- Dress yourself up.
Starting on the outside is key. When you’re feeling blue, the last thing you want to do is have to look good for anyone. Today I was a blanket burrito, with rat’s nest hair, and a red blotchy tear stained face. I looked horrendous and that transferred to feeling horrendous. Sometimes the universe is just really on your side because today a package I had been waiting on of brand new activewear came in the mail. It lifted my spirits enough to physically lift myself out of bed and open the package. After a quick face wash, I slipped on the outfit, looked in the mirror and felt, well, beautiful. I took a selfie and instagrammed it (#typical), and started just admiring myself, my body that I work so hard to take care of. It’s ok to showcase a little bit of vanity, especially when you’re feeling low. Normally, when I’m not going out I don’t bother with makeup (and heck even when I do go out half the time I’m like eh fuck it) but today was different. I needed to love myself a little extra. So I applied a loose powder to even up my tear stained blotchiness, and even threw on a little mascara to make my eyes pop. Then,I tied my hair up into a cute messy bun. Suddenly I was staring at someone who’s well-dressed and put together on the outside and slowly that was transferring to the inside. Instead of dressing up to go somewhere, I dressed up for myself and for the sake of feeling good.
2. Caffeinate yourself!!
I am an absolute caffeine fiend. Whether you’re a black tea or a coffee drinker, caffeine can perk you right up! Guys, if you search for it on the internet, you can find literally tons of studies that have found that drinks life coffee can be huge mood boosters! And why? Well, caffeine is a drug essentially (a legal one thank God) and it actually alters your brain chemistry. Everything starts to speed up, which is invaluable when you’re feeling lethargic. In the article, “Coffee: A great source of antioxidants and an effective mood enhancer” by Chris Kilhalm, a researcher in natural remedies, he states:
“Coffee’s greatest effects are exerted upon the brain and mind, since coffee is a bracing awakener. As a delivery system for caffeine, coffee acts upon the central nervous system, stimulating the brain and all the major nerves, and facilitating cognitive function overall. Coffee enhances the flow of blood in the brain and invigorates the mind. It enhances alertness and motivation, facilitates thought formation and concentration, and decreases mental fatigue.”
Grabbing a cup of joe is exactly what I did today after I cleaned myself up. I even treated myself to a big ol’ cup from my favorite coffee shop. Which was great for 2 reasons. One, I was forced to get up and leave my house. Two, I got some bomb ass coffee, that’s way better than anything I could brew at home.
3. Understanding what caused the mood swing.
This is so essential. For me, I do know exactly what’s causing my emotions to be so unpredictable and extreme. It’s my lovely friend, birth control. Since I am only one month in, my body is still adjusting to the artificial hormones. This process, I’ve been told by my gynecologist, can take up to 2-4 months. For right now, it’s too soon for me to abandon the pill. However, if my moods are still out of control by the end of this month I am definitely going to pay my doc a visit. Mood swings like this are very common when starting birth control. In the midst of my sobbing fit I kept reminding myself that it’s ok to feel this way. This isn’t me. This is the pill. The real me is safe. I let myself get the weepiness out of my system.
Sometimes it’s these small moves that can pick up your mood. Take care of yourself physically, treat yourself, and love yourself a little bit extra on days like these and you’ll be surprised how quickly your mood snaps back into place. Happiness is always a choice and there are tons of people who will say otherwise. Especially those birth control naysayers. Even in my own depressive funk, likely caused by birth control, I made the conscious decision to cheer myself up and it worked. Happiness to me is a state of mind that is a direct result of choice. Nothing can prevent you from making an internal decision. There’s no one in there, but you!