We see ourselves as pariahs. Our depression depresses others and we’re not worth their time anyway. There’s also tremendous fatigue that can come with depressive episodes. It’s feeling as though getting dressed and walking outside is equivalent to running a marathon.
Putting the lack of energy together with the feelings of hopelessness and worthlessness leads to isolation. The problem with isolation is that it can lead to more depression. The solution? You just have to get out.
Spending time with friends may sometimes seem too big of a social burden. They are often our best support group, but getting a cup of coffee and having a chat can take up energy that just isn’t there.
One solution is to take part in activities that don’t involve talking about how you’re doing. Have a goal that only involves you being present and willing or needing to focus on anything other than the horrible thoughts depression puts into your head.
Finding such diversions can seem difficult, but they’re all around, even in small towns. Making a commitment to a group can provide the extra motivation to get out and go do.
Here are five social activities that get you out of the house and provide distractions from the pain of depression.
1 Join a Gaming Group
Nerds rule the world now, and we want you to join us. Search for your local game shop and ask about gaming nights. There will be a couple of kinds of gaming- board games and role-playing. There are thousands of amazing board games, so you won’t get stuck playing Monopoly over and over. Role-playing may seem intimidating, but here’s the thing: you get to be somebody else, someone without depression.
2 Play Roller Derby
Roller derby today is not the roller derby of the 70’s. It’s a legitimate, fast-paced sport with the opportunity to pick a new name for yourself and belong to a team. When you’re in it, you have no time to think about depression. There are women’s leagues and men’s leagues so there’s something for everyone. Even if you don’t want to play, you have the option to referee or be a non-skating official.
3 Take an Art Class
Check with your local community college for adult education classes. It may turn out that you have zero talent, but it can still be fun. People with bipolar disorder and other mental illnesses are often more creative than the general public, so there’s a chance some art form may come naturally. It might be painting, sculpture, photography or even fine arts. You get to learn something new and engage your thoughts on creation rather than the destruction of depression.
What better way to make yourself feel good than helping others? There are dozens of volunteer opportunities near you. Contact the city to see if there are park cleanup groups. Lend a hand at your local animal shelter, even if it’s just walking dogs. Animals are better at lowering stress than spouses or partners. Spend time at a senior center or volunteer as a Scout leader. Opportunities are endless. Search for “volunteer opportunities” and your city to find a match.
5 Join a Book Club
Book clubs may seem like an obvious and boring suggestion, but they solve the problem of isolation in a couple of ways. First, you do get time by yourself because you have to read the book in order to talk about it. Then, when you participate in the book club, you get socialization, a pre-planned topic of conversation and a limited time frame. Check with your local public library for a list of book clubs in your area.
Sometimes getting out of the house is just not possible. If the depression is too much, it really is okay to miss out. Just make sure to be honest with yourself and get out there when you can.
Image credit: John Wisniewski