So…you probably noticed that I took a bit of a break from blogging these past few months. Let me fill you in on what’s been happening behind the scenes.
As most of you know, I moved to Los Angeles back in May. While I love living here, it’s been an adjustment. I spent my whole life living on the East Coast, so this was a significant life change for me, and there’s been a lot of good but a few rocky moments here and there as well. Oh, and I also was writing a book while moving across the country simultaneously, and to be honest, I’ve had a lot of imposter syndrome during this entire writing process.
I also was diagnosed with depression in March 2020 (ironically, a week before COVID-19 was declared a pandemic) and started antidepressants and therapy as a result.
So, what’s been going on? Grab a cup of coffee (or a glass of wine, whatever beverage of your choice!), and let’s get real here.
Getting Out of a Depressive Episode
I don’t know how long I suffered from depression before I was formally diagnosed last year, but this mental illness combined with my anxiety causes me to dislike things I usually enjoy — for no good reason. It’s not that I ever disliked blogging in itself. On my worst depression days, there’s not much in life that I actually enjoy, so my routine gets thrown off pretty quickly during a slump. Plus, it makes me super forgetful at times, and it’s hard to concentrate with all of the brain fog that I experience at times.
Which, by the way, if I forget to answer a text or a DM, please forgive me — difficulty concentrating is one of the most prominent depression symptoms that I’m still trying to overcome. Just ping me again if I don’t respond; trust me, it’s me and not you!
So, How’s LA?
That being said, am I homesick? Do I miss the East Coast? Not really. I’ve heard horror stories of people moving to LA and hating it, and honestly? I feel like I have a little family here already. I’m lucky enough that I had roots in the city before moving here, and the social transition was effortless. I’m also pretty outgoing, and I was kind of shocked at how many people would come up to me and strike a convo — at the grocery store, in my apartment building, while I was at a movie theater…you name it.
Is the traffic horrible? Yes, but I’m also from DC and found traffic in Northern Virginia to be comparable, so it doesn’t bother me. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
Are you adjusting to life in LA okay? Socially, yes. Also, it’s a dream for work as well. The shooting opportunities are pretty endless here! I’m not going to lie; I will miss fall on the East Coast, but I’m flying back to enjoy that — problem solved! The only thing I’m not vibing with right now is gas prices here and taxes, but hey — it hurts a little less when you live in paradise, right?
I also have hardly any furniture in my place right now, and we’ve been in this apartment since June, so I’m not going to lie — that alone definitely throws off my routine! Everything is majorly back-ordered right now.
So, What’s the Problem?
Unfortunately, I’m just a person who has a mental illness. Plus, the cross country move and writing a book burned me out more than I expected. I unintentionally took a break at first because I was trying to sort out book writing and the move. Then, I wanted to give myself some time to be social in this new city. And then…I had some depressive episodes along the way that got me down.
What Does a Depressive Slump or Episode Feel Like?
Let me preface this by saying that everyone’s different. For me, I lose motivation pretty easily. I used to have high-functioning depression before the pandemic, which meant that I was 100% able to stay on top of my deadlines. Still, after work I found myself scrolling on my phone, not doing anything productive, and internally being pretty mean to myself. I also felt like I was super low on energy, no matter how many workouts I did or how clean of a diet I had either. Difficulty concentrating and not responding to messages was a significant symptom for me as well.
My high-functioning depression turned into low-functioning depression during the pandemic, and there are times when I just…don’t get out of bed for hours. In tandem with my anxiety, I found myself scrolling on my phone and avoiding any possible situations rather than taking on the day. I hated writing. I hated shooting photos. Criticized how I look in every shoot. I never thought my work was good enough. I also didn’t feel like leaving my house or making plans with people.
Nothing in particular triggers my depression: I can have the best weekend of my life and then fall into a black hole the very next day. It’s unpredictable, inconvenient, and pretty draining, to be honest.
How Do You Get Out of a Depressive Slump?
First and foremost: it’s not an easy thing to do, and I’ve worked with a therapist to address this over the past couple of years. Therapy is key if you can afford it (I hate how expensive it is, but it’s a necessary investment for me). When you go to therapy, and your therapist assigns you “homework,” do it. Don’t put it off. The steps you take outside of therapy are crucial.
I work from home and still don’t have a desk chair, so I can easily spend a good chunk of the day in bed (which is awful). I need to make plans every day to get out of bed. That can be something as simple as going to a workout class, signing up for a coworking office for a day, or planning to work in my building’s business center at a specific time. Making plans doesn’t necessarily mean going out with friends, so if you’re not in a social mood, there are still things you can do to get out of the house and get some fresh air.
Social media also drains me when I’m in a depressive episode, which is ironic cause…it’s my job. To be candid, I have a virtual assistant that posts on Instagram on my behalf at times, which comes in handy when I’m not feeling great mentally. I like to log off of social media, take a walk, make plans with friends, play a game, or watch a movie when I’m not in the best mood.
I think it’s essential to stay in touch with people when you’re depressed, no matter how hard that can be. Answer the phone when your relatives call. Stay on top of texts. Make those dinner plans. My depression might make me want to cancel plans and retreat back into my depression cave (AKA my bed), but keeping up with social activities is pretty crucial.
I don’t have all the answers. But, I can tell you that if you’re feeling any of the things I’m feeling, that you’re not alone. Understanding mental illness is complicated, but I’m learning about new ways to cope each week with the help of therapy. As we go into Q4, I’m hoping to stay on top of this blog and keep consistently publishing content here — and not letting depression get in the way of my plans!
Have you ever had to overcome a depressive slump before? Let me know in the comments below (if you’re comfortable sharing!)
Photo by Tom McGovern