Brave Self Care: Five Tips for Managing Depression Fatigue

When you are dealing with the pain, exhaustion and overwhelm of depression, having to face the stigma and judgment of being ill only compounds the situation. Sometimes people I encounter throughout the day, quiz me about my depression.  But pushing and probing for reasons why I feel unwell isn't helpful, because on top of everything else, I feel I have to justify my diagnosis.

You should never have to justify depression (or any other chronic illness).  Here are my five bravest tips for managing the exhaustion and fall-out of depression fatigue.

Five Self Care Tips for Managing Depression Fatigue

1. Give Yourself Permission to Rest

When besieged by depression fatigue, it sounds counter-intuitive, but suspending the impulse to fight it, takes some pressure off. 

Time and again, I get blind-sighted by the idea I have some control over this illness.  Sure, I can mitigate the symptoms.  But when I get hooked into the thought of actually conquering depression, it retaliates with a vengeance. That's why I'm writing this for you.  I wish for you to know, it's okay to rest.  As much as you need, brave heart, rest.

Your body is an intelligent, living being and rest gives your body a chance to work it's magic.  Know that it's absolutely okay to rest when you have depression fatigue.  You don't have to justify your actions, enlist support and create a self-care program that enables you to rest when you need to.

2. Accept the Debilitating Effects of Depression

Accepting you have depression does not mean giving up, it is an act of fierce courage.

Depression often has me mentally grasping for reasons why my self-care efforts appear to be failing. The mental torture cycles in an endless loop of "if I can just sort myself out, it will be okay".  But depression isn't about sorting yourself out, depression is a very real and debilitating clinical condition.

When the exhausting symptoms of depression hit, the gloves are on, but I just don't have the energy to fight.  Depression has backed me into the corner.

3. Check in with your GP

Extreme tiredness can be a symptom of depression, but there are other causes to consider.

For too many months, I assumed my exhausting fatigue was down to the depression.  When I finally had the courage to discuss it with my GP, he ran some tests and it turned out I had chronic anemia (iron deficiency) as well as B12 deficiency.

Depression fatigue is definitely worth checking in with your GP about.

4.  Rest your Mind 

When the mind falls into an abyss of despair, let it be a signal to take some deep rest.

When you find yourself ruminating don't be hard on yourself, use it as an opportunity to experiment, so you can find new ways to gently calm your mind. Imagine you are turning down the dial on ruminating thoughts.

Make yourself a mug of warm tea, distract your mind with simple mindfulness activities, be like a cat and seek out a spot of sunshine, or relax with a hot water bottle.

5.  Keep a Journal

Keep a journal to help track your mood, sleep and activity levels.

When you are battling exhaustion, little things can make the biggest difference. Remember anything you manage to do when you are ill is a direct achievement. 

Stay Strong