Depressed in the District – Some Tips to get Through the Bad Days

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The following was written by anonymous. If there’s something you feel strongly about that you think should be shared, don’t hesitate to email me at [email protected]

Depressed in the District

I’ve lived in DC for the past three years and consistently struggle with depression. The young professional bubble, with its unyielding insistence on happy hours, Ann Taylor outfits, and impressive career tracks, can be quite challenging for the depressed. I recently found myself spiraling into a familiar black hole, with work, faltering relationships, and my dreary routine all leading me to question the point of everything. Although I spend a good amount of my time in such black holes, I’ve slowly gotten better at crawling out of them over time. I’m certainly not an expert, but I humbly offer you some tips that have helped me get through the bad days. Take what you like and leave the rest!

1) This one’s obvious, but I’ll say it anyway: Get help if you need it, whether it’s therapy, medication, or a combination of the two. If you are able, shop around until you find a therapist you jive with. It took me a few tries to find a therapist who gets me, so don’t give up.

2) Reach out to people, but don’t become dependent: Absolutely reach out to your family and close friends when you need them. At the same time, I think it’s important to learn to trust yourself and not become dependent on validation from others, because no one can be there at all times. Relying on yourself can also be a confidence booster and make the next dark phase feel just a little more manageable.

3) Be comfortable with doing things alone. Whether you just moved here and haven’t made friends yet, are victim to DC’s merciless cycle of friend turnover, or just can’t get anyone to respond to your texts, doing things by yourself is a valuable skill. This goes with the tip above about not getting dependent on people; plow ahead with your plans regardless of who’s joining. Next step: Make some plans (see below).

4) Go to open mic and comedy nights: There’s at least one open mic event every night of the week. I love Bloombars open mic nights as well as stand up around the district. These are the best because you get to see a different side of people – less networky, more raw. Also, unlike at work, self-deprecation, depression, and general mediocrity are popular topics. At least for me, one of the hardest parts about being depressed in DC is feeling like an alien among people who – at least on the surface – seem successful, happy, and productive. Open mic nights help expose me to DC-ers who I might not have encountered otherwise and tone down those feelings of isolation and failure. Also, comedy makes you laugh.

5) Explore different neighborhoods: Sometimes when things feel stagnant, I’ll just pick a random place in DC to explore (often by myself). Even though it can be a monumental challenge to get myself outside, being in a new environment that isn’t usually featured in my daily routine gives me energy. If you are so inclined, bring along a sketchbook or camera.

6) Find comforting local haunts: Keep a list of places – coffee shops, museums, bookstores – that you can’t help but feel good in and make yourself visit them frequently when you feel down. (One of my favorites is Kramer Books in Dupont.) Use #5 as an opportunity to expand your list.

7) Devote yourself to a hobby: I sometimes feel like a less-successful version of everyone else in DC, which naturally feeds into my depression. Having outside hobbies gives me a sense of satisfaction and individuality. Once you find a hobby, make it impossible for even the most depressed version of yourself to bail on it. Involve a friend, buy nice supplies, or keep whatever materials you need handy.

8) Read: When I’m feeling depressed, reading allows me to get out of my grey-scale brain and slip into someone else’s life for a little bit and feel things again. I try to carry a book with me wherever I go and have a second book ready for when I finish or get bored; otherwise, I run the risk of feeling too indifferent about the task of finding a new book (thanks, depression!) to continue on with the reading thing.

9) Do one chore a day: When a normal adult chore load seems overwhelming, force yourself to do
at least one thing each day, like laundry or getting groceries. I try not to create ambitious schedules, because my inevitable failure just makes me feel worse; however, a free pass on chores guarantees that I end up living in an igloo of my own laundry by the end of the week. This low-expectations rule at least helps keep things moving.

10) Be honest with people: Most likely, no one is doing as awesome as they seem. I’ve found that
being honest, even in water cooler conversations at work, sometimes gets other people to open up. Being a little vulnerable – like sharing a silly detail from your weekend, admitting to feeling dumb about something, or responding with “average” instead of “great!” when asked how your day is going – can lead to surprising results.

11) Find strategies to make work tolerable: Work can be the worst when you’re depressed – just focus on getting through the days and be kind to yourself. Plan an enjoyable outing for Monday evening that you can look forward to. Promise yourself coffee if you show up on time. Bug your co-workers until you find someone who’s willing to eat lunch with you. Decorate your office to make it less drab. Figure out which parts of the day are the hardest and plan your assignments and breaks accordingly, if possible.

12) Be a friend: When I feel like I can barely deal with my own life, listening to someone else’s problems seems like an impossible proposition. But withdrawing from people is exactly what depression wants you to do! Don’t give in. Even – especially – when you feel like you have nothing to give, trust that you are valuable and be there for someone you care about.

13) Cut out the negatives: Friends who drain your energy, ill-defined hookup situations, Netflix addictions, annoying roommates – start cutting this stuff out or changing it whenever possible. It will simplify things.

I hope that some of these tips were helpful and I wish you all the best!

Your fellow District Depressive”

91 Comment

  • Thanks for this. Just what I needed right now.

  • Thank you. What *IS* it with this place right now? Everything seems to be slipping backwards.

    • It’s the time of year– everything’s cold, many people are less physically active and less social, we don’t have much sunlight, and the December holidays are long gone. I’m a teacher and notice a big dip in student energy and morale around this time. I’m not saying that depression shouldn’t be treated– I’m just saying that you’re certainly not alone in feeling ‘off’ right about now.

  • Well crafted. needed this today. Many thanks.

  • Thank you, that was excellent! The only thing I would add is exercise, which I’m convinced is critical for your body and mind, and improves your whole outlook.
    For me, I love the explore new neighborhoods suggestion. I love running or biking all over to get the lay of the land, and then return for a stroll when I can. It’s also a good opportunity to learn the bus system, which I find very valuable even if I don’t regularly rely on them.

    • I was going to post this as well. I used to deal with depression, general anxiety, and panic attacks. I cannot stress how much exercise can help. Also get a physical to make sure your levels are good. Vitamin D is something most people are lacking, and can actually have a significant improvement in your life.

      • Agreed. Didn’t mean to leave this out!

      • posted above, but totally agree here. exercise and a daily multivitamin have really helped me (perhaps it is Vitamin D i was lacking). Biking and running are a great way to learn about the city too!

        • Definitely have been in your shoes! DC has a great and diverse biking community. Biking is good for exercise and mental health, and also for meeting new people. Many group rides and other social events are arranged – even as a shy person, everyone I’ve met is super nice and not intimidating. In fact, I’ve met many people through biking but know very little about their dayjobs/employment situations. You don’t need a fancy bike, or even your own bike to participate, and Bikeshare is cool, too. Check #bikedc on Twitter to get a feel for things.

  • This is great – Thanks for the thoughtful advice!

  • This is really good advice. I’d recommend cross stitch as a good starter hobby. You can buy simple kits that come with everything you need including a frame, it’s very easy to learn (one simple stitch), and doesn’t require a ton of concentration. I found it very soothing during my last depressive episode.

  • Heh, I needed this… Thank you for sharing this advice!

  • Great tips, thank you!
    Regarding #1, I’d also add: don’t feel like your problem is too small or “stupid” to get help. I’ve discovered that when there’s a big issue I can handle it, but when a bunch of small things pile up I get overwhelmed and fall into a depression, sometimes without even realizing it’s happening. I felt embarrassed for going to a therapist when there wasn’t a “big” problem, but it’s what I needed to do. If you need help, you need help, period. A therapist will not laugh at you.

  • Cannot agree with the hobby suggestion enough. Taking a class, having that weekly commitment can do wonders (and does wonders for me). Lots of places around the city are open to work-exchange programs if you aren’t able to afford certain classes you’d like to take. Thanks for this.

    • I highly recommend photography. It inspires you to get out and helps you see beauty in everything. You probably have the equipment already (camera phones take great pictures!) and there’s a lot of classes/meetups if you want to make it into a social activity.

  • This should be a regular feature. All of us either suffer with depression or know someone that does and it’s good to have these reminders. I’d also recommend volunteering!

    • I’ll second volunteering. It doesn’t have to be full on committed volunteering every weekend either. Check out – you can sign up for once in a blue moon random events and they have pretty good variety. So if you’re feeling social – you can go bowling with KEEN athletes on sundays or you could go sort cans at the Food Bank if you don’t feel like talking to anyone, but don’t want to be alone either (Of course you can talk to people while sorting cans – but it’s what you want).

  • ” The young professional bubble, with its unyielding insistence on happy hours, Ann Taylor outfits, and impressive career tracks, can be quite challenging for the depressed.”
    Ugh, just reading that perfectly sums up the track that my parents wanted me on. But DC is a town where you can have an incredibly interesting and varied career outside of that, and I encourage people to look out of the box. You won’t make as much money, or you might make a great deal of money, but the job will not be dull and the people can be inspiring.

  • Nice piece. As a 10 year district resident that has experienced significant spells of depression and the flow of friends in and out of the city, these are good tips. I’ll add that exercise (primarily biking but also running) has really helped me beat my depression and provided self-confidence. I enjoy riding and running alone, but there are also communities that you can join and meet friends that way, if you so choose.

    I’ll add that one food-related documentary I watched stated that taking a daily multivitamin can help with depression (some deficiency or something, its been awhile). I was in the middle of a bad spell at the time of viewing, so I started taking a daily multivitamin a few years ago. I do think it helps (or has helped me at least). Exercise and vitamins have helped me get through both depression and associated self-destructive behavior, maybe it can help someone else.

  • wow, this is fantastic timing.
    i am looking into intensive outpatient treatment for depression in DC. anyone have any suggestions or experience with it?

  • I have found my Verilux Happy Light to be a great boost in my mood especially on grey days. Feeling like I never get any sun, this is a nice supplement to my light exposure.

    I also try to get in some exercise everyday. That kind of routine really helps.

    • My mom gave me a Happy Light for Christmas! Not sure how much it helps but it certainly makes my mornings a little brighter when I’m having trouble getting moving!

  • Thanks! This is an awesome piece and a great reminder for self care. It is very challenging yet awesome living here and the part about “the young professional bubble, with its unyielding insistence on happy hours, Ann Taylor outfits, and impressive career tracks” sums that up perfectly.

  • This was great. I would also add yoga to the list of things I find helpful on down days. No matter how horrible my day has been, yoga always leaves me feeling relaxed, happier and more centered.

  • Thank you so much for this post today. I really, really needed it.

  • “Netflix addictions.” Oh yes, I can relate. As soon as House of Cards comes out, I’ll watch it and then discontinue my streaming package. Netflix has been yet another reminder on why I can’t have cable either! No discipline and a tendency to binge on shows leaves me feeling bad and takes time away from working out.
    Finding a hobby that you really like can be helpful, as can setting up performances and plays to see in the coming weeks. It’s good to have something to look forward to, and we have a lot of free options here (i.e., the free 6 pm performances at the Kennedy Center). Whenever I’m trying to beat the doldrums or just anxiety, I play the piano. Music offers a nice escape and is a form of therapy.

  • Well said.
    I also go to the zoo when I’m down. It is free and seeing Bao Bao always makes me smile.

    Or, if you must… remember that DC attracts the best and brightest. You’re surrounded by people who not only won the birth lottery but also made the most of it. THEY ARE NOT NORMAL. Realize that anywhere else in the country you’d be a superstar. If you’re still feeling inferior: look up people from your hometown and see what they’re up to. Chances are you’ve done WAY more with your life than they have.

    • so… don’t compare yourself to others, unless they are from your hometown and in a lower position in life than you are?
      Sorry for the snark… I absolutely agree with the beginning of your sentiment, but using the position of those who might not be doing as well as you are to validate your accomplishments can be counterproductive.

      • I meant that only as a last resort if you can’t stop comparing yourself to others.
        I have a close friend who works with people who have extraordinary accomplishments, and she’s very hard on herself because she didn’t go to any Ivy League school, get her Master’s degree, etc. Putting things in perspective is the only thing that keeps her from being suicidal. How is that counterproductive?

        • And FWIW… she grew up in NoVA surrounded by rich and successful people, so that’s all she knows. I think not having a “normal” hometown as a baseline makes it harder for her to recognize her many accomplishments.

          • I get it… It actually sounds like your friend and I have a lot in common. I am from a much larger city than DC. I was a small fish in the very large pond that was my incredibly prestigious high school (smart enough to get in, but still middle of the pack). Totally agree with the comment below about Facebook, too.
            Again sorry for the snark… I do otherwise agree with what you had to say. Hope your friend finds some happiness and peace.

        • Facebook is a good place to get depressed. Someone on PoPville said a while ago that “comparison is the thief of joy.” That phrase has stayed with me. If you compared your life to all the happy photos you see on FB, you’d inevitably get depressed. It’s important to realize a lot of this stuff is staged, and there’s oftentimes a lot of other stuff going on behind the smiles, couplings, and seemingly never-ending fun activities. Don’t let comparison steal your joy!

          • Yep, Facebook and the “young professional bubble” that the author speaks of are horrible for self esteem. I do think DC is worse than most places because so many people are overly ambitious and not shy about it. It’s good to see what’s going on outside the bubble sometimes.

        • I guess I just took your suggestion of comparing your accomplishments with those in your hometown as a negative… and ultimately a negative begets a negative and therefore is counterproductive to achieving a positive outlook. I am totally guilty of having done this in the past, and while it may have felt good for a while, it ultimately had me circling back to thinking that everyone else in DC is so much more accomplished than me, doing better than me, etc. This kind of thinking just reminded me of the pecking order and it just didn’t work as a coping strategy. I’ve pretty much eliminated that thought process and doing so (along with many of the other items listed in this post) has really helped me maintain a positive attitude.
          I’m sorry to hear of your friend’s struggles. I’ve certainly been there. I didn’t go to an Ivy League, don’t have my Masters (yet!), I’m still have a job, not a career… I could go on… these are all things that made me very depressed and on the verge of feeling suicidal. And, I completely agree that it is important to have perspective. I just think all comparisons should be a no no. Instead, I choose to focus on my health, my ability to give back to my community, my friendships (near and far)…. things like that.
          Changing your thought process is a very powerful thing.

      • #2: Don’t be snarky! Negativity begets negativity.

    • Also realize that people in this city are VERY GOOD at selling themselves. I’ve always had somewhat of an inferiority complex, even though I graduated among the top of my high school class, went to one of the best liberal arts colleges, and had an LA job on the Hill before even graduating. In high school, I never wanted to “sound smart” for fear of alienating people, and then from college on, I always thought everyone around me was soooo much smarter. It took me a while to realize that that wasn’t the case. I deserve to be where I am just as much as the next person. I earned my place. And frankly, a lot of people have no idea what they’re talking about. They just put themselves out there and sound convincing (I’ve become a lot better at reading BS).

    • What if doing better than a bunch of brain dead hicks doesn’t make one happy?
      What if you go through all these things and nothing makes one happy? Absolutely nothing.

  • Thank you so much for this!!!!!! Number 5 and number 6 will now be incorporated into my monthly routine. Thank you.

  • Through journaling, etc., refresh your memory about what you loved to do earlier in life that you no longer do, and start to do those things again. Rekindle primal interest/passions.

    Depression also results from unaddressed anger, sometimes very old… so discern if something is really bothering you that you are not addressing, and address it. That can require professional help. Depression is pressure turned inward, and you want to turn it outward :^()

  • good advice for dealing with a breakup too

  • I agree that exercise would help. Something as simple as a brisk walk or a gentle, non-competitive yoga class.

    The author of this piece — and many of us here in this city — has completely lost touch with her body, with the idea that she is someone who’s capable of feeling. There is almost no reference to sensual pleasure, let alone feeling anything physical — whether it’s the cold air on her cheeks after a walk, or the pleasure of making a meal that smells good and feels good in her belly. (I say “her” because of the Ann Taylor reference.)

    I’ve got two other ideas: Volunteer somewhere where you have to do something physical, like paint walls, pull weeds or scrub floors or dishes. Sometimes doing things that are physical and bigger than ourselves can remind us that we have strong capable bodies with the ability to feel things. And at that same time, that it’s not all about us.

    And the other thing I would suggest is calling up a friend or co-worker who just had a baby — we all have one. Go over to their house with a rotisserie chicken, a loaf of french bread, a bag of lettuce and some salad dressing and cookies. An easy meal, requiring no cleanup! Hold the baby. It’ll feel good to touch a new life. And then help your new parent friends with something physical, like taking out trash or doing dishes or vacuuming their floor or walking their dog. And while you’re at it, rub the dog’s belly! Again, a reminder you can take pleasure in little things, that you’re capable of feeling.

    Doesn’t it make you feel good just thinking about rubbing a dog’s belly? Or smelling a baby’s head? Mmmm.

    • hammers

      Neither rubbing a dog’s belly or smelling a baby’s head appeal to me….I’d go out of my way to avoid either. Not to be contrary, just pointing out that your mileage may vary on offering that last one as advice.

      • Yeah, hanging out with a baby is my version of hell. And I’ve never understood the head smelling.

      • You never know, you might surprise yourself with puppies and babies!

        But I see what you’re saying. Your dog belly might be something else, like playing poker with friends or going for a drive in the country or getting a fresh haircut or spending the afternoon looking at great art. The idea is to find things that make you feel good, to remind you that you are capable of feeling good. And to treat feeling good as a pattern to be nourished.

        • hammers

          absolutely agree with finding what makes you feel good. I only commented because it seemed like that advice was intended to be universal, and I know if–in a state of depression–a friend suggested that to me, I would become more depressed thinking they don’t know me at all, and I would no longer turn to that friend for support. I wholeheartedly agree with the spirit of the comment.

      • People smell baby heads? Sounds weird to me.

    • E, I’m sure your intentions were good, but this sounds awfully judgmental: “The author of this piece — and many of us here in this city — has completely lost touch with her body, with the idea that she is someone who’s capable of feeling. There is almost no reference to sensual pleasure, let alone feeling anything physical…” You have no way of knowing this.
      Advice along the lines of “Buck up and pull yourself up by your bootstraps” is not particularly helpful. And while exercise can often help someone’s mood, if exercise alone cures your depression I’ve got news for you: you weren’t clinically depressed, you were just somewhat down.

      • hammers

        Doing some of the seemingly simplist things when depressed can seem impossible. Even going for a walk. Sometimes I can’t actually go on a walk because I get so afraid of the feeling I will have when I’m alone and feeling like an outsider with no place to go.

        • +1. Sometimes it’s a challenge just to get out of bed, take a shower, and get dressed.

        • Emmaleigh504

          Or getting dressed and opening the front door!

          • I’m sorry if I hurt anyone’s feelings. I don’t want to make anyone feel worse, and I would hate to force puppies or babies on anyone who doesn’t want them. 🙂 I thought about this a lot last night. If you cannot get out of bed, if the thought of taking a shower and walking out the door seems too much, if being alone outside is so daunting you can’t face it, then PLEASE GET PROFESSIONAL HELP.

            These were the things that worked for me. Starting with calling my employee assistance hotline and finding a counselor on a day I couldn’t get out of bed and face going to work. She helped me identify negative habits of thinking and offered tools to help me get through the bad days.

            They included: Getting out of my own head with physical activity. Reminding myself that it is possible to feel good *in my body* and to make it a pattern (with exercise, nourishing food, inspirational art and the hundreds of other self-care suggestions people have kindly offered here.) And helping others, to remind myself that it was not all about me.

  • Wonderful, THANK YOU!

    I’m finishing up law school, and recently realized that I don’t really have any hobbies (other than reading) — I need to find one that doesn’t involve more crap coming into my apartment.

  • Good post – as you can see from all the commentors – you aren’t alone. Whether it’s wintertime blues or year round depression – I hear ya. I do art, work out, volunteer on occasion, push myself to reach out to friends, and cook (I’ve learned that the process of cooking from scratch really causes me to focus on anything but whatever I’m sad about). But I also remind myself that its ok to feel this way too – ie I cut myself a break.

    #13 (cutting negative friends) was huge for me last year. HUGE. and it’s made a vast improvement on my life in general since.

    Your list will help me expand my list. Thanks for the post.

  • I want to join everyone else in saying “thank you” for writing/sharing this. It is always good to have a reminder that none of us are alone in feeling this way, whether seasonally or for a more prolonged period of time.

  • This is an excellent article, thanks for posting and writing this. Some suggestions that I know have helped me when I’m down; just some easy jazz music, get some flameless candles from crate and barrel (other stores sell them too but crate and barrels where I got mine), an easy walk outside, visit the library with no set intentions just browse the shelves. Visit Johnsons floral shop in friendship heights, and just browse…Take in the huge indoor water fountain at Farragut west. Play some Sam Smith songs, try strolling the National Portrait gallery and just for kicks have someone camera phone picture take a few shots of you there. last but not least ‘purge’ get rid of old unused stuff. Take a trip to the zoo.

  • Thanks for this excellent post. I am generally upbeat, but this month has been rough. The weather doesn’t help as I am originally from Miami, but a proud DC resident for 8 years. Like many have said, in the District, the rat race is acute and damaging. I am lawyer, but I also teach group fitness classes and that helps keep me sane. I look forward to teaching a few days per year and doing yoga classes the other days. It’s been a life saver. Best wishes to all who struggle with the mental health.

  • oops, I almost forgot; Embrace, embrace introspection, inner self evaluation, earth appreciation and give tons of inner spirit gratitude for helping you making thus far…

  • I really enjoyed this post even though I don’t suffer from depression. A series of recent tragic events among my friend group has confirmed, everybody has problems and pressures and nobody is really as happy as they look on Facebook. On the other hand, there are a lot of single people out there still looking for love, pets that need homes, jobs that need to get done, music being performed, water to be sailed, beautiful paths to be walked. It helps to visit beautiful places like the botanical garden or a museum that allow you to get off the hamster wheel.

  • Great post! Thanks OP for writing this and thanks Dan for posting!
    (Unrelated aside – am I the only one seeing the most recent comments at the top of the thread? Used to be the other way, no?)

  • It is subtle, but in the dark wintertime it is a good idea to keep lots of lights on during the darker times of day… don’t dwell in lots of darkness and shadow, but keep lights on. I know it’s not a good conservation move, but it does improve mood a lot.

  • Very timely post, thank you for writing.
    Re #1 -It’s one thing to acknowledge you need help, it is sometimes a huge leap – especially when depressed- to finding the right person. Someone on R&R recently mentioned the therapist listing on psychology today and I’d like to highlight this as an easy to access resource for at least narrowing down your choice of therapist. It includes what kind of insurance the therapist takes, which is an important factor in deciding who to see.
    therapists/psychologytoday. com.

  • My advice for seasonal affective disorder AND depression (been dealing with it since I was 14 and am now in my 30’s):
    1- Do something active! Anything! That may mean that you get out of bed, brush your teeth and get back in bed (as opposed to being in bed all day) or walk around the block. Your body needs to move in order to circulate all the brain’s endorphins otherwise they get all clogged up like a hairball in the drain.
    2-Get a sunlamp! Insurance may cover it. These are not tanning lamps. They are lamps that mimic natural sunlight and will give you a good healthy dose of Vitamin D. I have one and use it often. I was instructed years ago by a doc to do some kind of work (laptop for example) in front of it for a hour a day. And to clarify, you do not stare into it. Just sit in front of it and imagine you are at the beach.
    3-Cut back or obtain from drinking. This can be a hard one as drinking sometimes is the first thing many of us want to do when we are down. However the more one drinks the more the good endorphins in the brain are scarce and the shitty feelings of depression set in. Its a vicious cycle ya’ll.
    4-Talk to somebody! Or journal!
    5-Eat less processed food. That stuff makes you feel like crap. Eat some fruits and veggies.
    6- 5HTP is a good supplement that you can get Whole Foods that has been helpful for many of my friends that also deal with SAD. I personally like Welbutrin (prescription).

    Hope this is helpful for someone. 🙂

  • Thanks for this–putting this together must’ve taken courage, and it’s a really nice gesture.

    One more suggestion that I would add: Don’t let yourself stew in guilt over your depression. So often, particularly in this health obsessed culture, people assume that there must be something terribly wrong with them if they don’t feel full of energy all the time. In my experience, unhappiness is a necessary foil for happiness; there’s no way to avoid it, and it’s often the only way you learn and grow. Fundamentally, it’s a healthy process, even if it sucks. Putting a lot of energy into trying to avoid depression I think often just makes it worse: better face it head on.

    • Same with anxiety. Suffered for a long time and always tried so hard to resist it and avoid it. When I gave up and stopped trying to resist it, figuring I was stuck with it so what’s the point, it actually was mostly alleviated. There is something about saying “Okay, bring it on” in the face of depression/anxiety as opposed to “I shouldn’t be feeling like this, what can I do to make it stop?” that just helps. Avoiding it makes it so it’s all you can really think of, because you’re trying to not think of it.

  • Thanks for writing and posting! These are great words for anyone to live by, and especially helpful to those dealing with depression. I think this is really helpful for those who are just feeling a little isolated as well.

  • Get out of town. Regularly.

  • I’ve had depression since I was a little kid, but I didn’t receive treatment for it until a few years ago. I would also like to suggest not being hard on yourself. When I do — for being lazy, or not seeing people for an entire weekend — I try to remind myself that depression is a chronic disease and that I have good days and bad days, just like anyone else with a chronic disease.

    I can also offer the suggestion of taking about 500 mg of magnesium and about the same of vitamin B2 every day. If you’re a migraine sufferer this combination can be really beneficial, as well. I’ve found that this combination, along with my SSRI, is really helpful in maintaining my energy level, particularly in the winter.

    Thanks, anonymous, for putting your writing out there — the more people talk about depression, the less stigma it has.

  • Thank you so much for posting this. I’ve struggled with depression since I was in college & plan to print this list, so I can have an action plan the next time I need it.
    Two things I would like to add based on my personal experience:
    1) depression can surface no matter your geographic location or life situation (and like you pointed out, DC has certain triggers). And it can look different at different points in life. So for me, getting married, exiting the professional bubble, and having children created a new/different set of challenges. I suffered from post-partum depression for a year before I recognized it because it was so different from my previous bouts of depression. It was actually my child’s pediatrician who helped me realize I was suffering from PPD. And finding a psychiatrist who specializes in PPD (and the hormones that accompany it) was an essential part of treatment for me.
    2) I also found that joining a church really helps me feel more connected in both happy and sad times. The congregarion support each other and have me a network

    • (I posted before I was finished by accident). For me, the church provides support as well as intellectual stimulation from classes and allows me to have friends of all ages and stations in life.
      DC has an amazing wealth of religious institutions and organizations of all stripes. And just like finding the right doctor, it might take some time to find the right church, synagogue, house of worship that syncs with your beliefs.

  • I really like the article and advice….remember myself hanging out at Kramer’s Books during a bad love spell about 8 years ago….things have not changed much in DC I guess :)…. I recently moved to MD and find our local MD “underachievers” to be simple, rather pleasant, and amused by us DC crowd. I even had a 20yo fisherman say to me: “well….you’re real pretty lady and feel free to come and get your fish from us at anytime.” During my recent self imposed lonely happy hang out at Foggy Bottom, I have met rather boring recent DC transplants and thought to myself….Was that me 8 years ago? Get out there girls and boys….all of us are not that important and rather average in all aspects of life=we’re not Stephen Hawking for Christ sake…..BUT we can still find love if we just stop talking about ourselves so much and try to embrace the simplicity of life!

  • Agree ! When I’ve struggled with depression it’s tough cause you sorta want to feel social but you feel so worthless so I didn’t want to bring my friends down, or I had no one to hang with cause my job had non traditional hours and people were working when I was free yada yada

    I made a commitment to myself to get out of the house more (and smoke less pot) and I’d spend time browsing the books at book stores with a cup of coffee or tea and then when is found a good book is just leave the house and go to the coffee shop (specifically I’d walk cause green therapy is great when your down) and it wouldn’t matter that I was alone cause I’d get lost kn my book and out of my head.

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