a personal style blog by Lauren Pfieffer

Sunday, November 27, 2022

Depressive Episodes and Coping

It was tough for me to realize a few years back that just because you're on SSRIs for depression, doesn't mean the depression is fully gone and out of your life. I think what was hardest for me to comprehend was that nothing, not even medication, would ever be a full-proof solution for the lack of serotonin in my brain. 

My depressive episodes come and go, even with daily ingestion of my 40mg of Citalopram every evening before I go to bed. I'm not sure what triggers them, actually. I have a few theories. I think loneliness might be one of them.

When I'm in a particularly lonely, isolated period of my life, I tend to sink into a deeper sadness than is normal for me. I read somewhere recently that those who have a support system in their lives are more likely to overcome their depressive episodes faster than those who don't. Checks out.

It's not something I particularly care to whine about any more --- being alone. Every few months I'll have a good cry about it and occasionally share something on the internet that makes me cringe in embarrassment after I come out on the other side of the pity party. 

As I've gotten older, I've realized that all of us are lonely. Some just hide it (and hide from it) better than others. I've never been one of those people. I seek out comfort and validation from others that I'm not as unlovable as I feel I am. I feel crazy sometimes, thinking, "Is this it? Do I get to always be the outsider looking in at the parties and the group trips and the Instagram shout-outs until I die?"

I could go on, but point being -- I've been lonely since I was a little girl. I'm still lonely and alone, often times. Most of the time, I enjoy it. 5-10% of the time, it causes me to spiral.

Luckily, my depressive episodes aren't so unrelenting that they leave me in too bad of shape. I still go to work. I still go to the gym. I still get dressed and cook and carry on. I'm just, sadder. 

I have been able to find methods to comfort and cope over the years, and I'm grateful. Here's what I've been trying:

1. Movement. In July I started getting serious about running again, and I've been working on repairing my relationship with exercise. Part of that is intuitively listening to what kind of movement my body needs on any given day. A lot of days, it's been walking, which has been shown in studies to help improve symptoms of depression. I don't know if that's true, but it seems to be working for me. It's my own little time to zone out and just mindlessly move through the motions (something I can't do with running). It's been really good for me.

2. Getting dressed. For me, getting dressed is perhaps my favorite part of the day. I know it won't be for most people, but allowing myself to be creative and play around with clothes first thing in the morning gives me a good start to my day. Dressing up gives me a purpose and when I have purpose, I feel like I can be productive in my tasks. A mind trick, but a good one.

3. Preparing. I have high functioning depression, meaning I will most often still be doing day-to-day tasks, despite the depression. What has helped keep me motivated to keep pushing through the episodes has been to set myself up through success via preparing. It could be grinding my coffee beans in the evening so I have them ready in the AM or looking at my weekly calendar to see how I can better prepare ahead of time for busy days in the week. Preparing small things in my routine has given me a sense of control over my life when it feels like I'm not fully in the drivers seat.

Things I need to get better at:

1. Asking for help. I will do everything alone if no one stops me. It is so hard to ask my family, close friends and even partner to help me with things. I often feel like a burden, or that by asking for help I might become more work than someone has "signed-up" for. I realize how crazy that sounds. I'm just trying to get better at identifying to people close to me when things are hard -- the next step is actually letting them help me. 

2. Letting people know. Like asking for help, I won't let people know I'm struggling. I'll hide away everything I'm feeling so I'm not an inconvenience for anyone. I'm working on saying how I really am to allow others to step in when needed. 

3. Taking breaks. All three of these kind of go together, but it is really hard for me to take a break. I work myself -- personally and professionally -- to burn out. And once you're burnt out, that's really hard to come back from. I took a mental health day off a few weeks ago from work as a start to working on this.

These are all things that have been on my mind to write about the last few week as I've been dealing with them. I don't write as much as I used to, but I find that organizing my thoughts whether it's in a journal or a blog post like this really is therapeutic for me.

With much love,


| Outfit Details |

80s sweater / thrifted
90s gap overalls / thrifted
Tan boots / thrifted
Dooney & Bourke Bucket Bag / thrifted
Red beret / had forever 

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