Zombie Mode: Trying to Live with Anxiety & Depression

distressed woman, like a zombie

I find it frustratingly ironic that the week I planned on posting about self-care with anxiety and depression, I was too depressed to actually do it.

So I didn’t.

Then I ended up not posting anything for nearly an entire month.

And then I was frustrated with myself for not posting anything, so I felt more depressed about myself. But I knew I should be patient and nice to myself, so I told myself that…but then that just annoyed me.

Our inner dialogues can be so fun, right?

Needless to say, to avoid this unpleasant mental state, I tried to not think about any of it. I immediately turned to my favorite distractions – Netflix binging, yummy drinks, and lazy social media scrolling.

Autopilot mode, or in this month’s case, zombie mode, was in full force.

Do you ever just feel like a zombie?

As someone who has struggled with anxiety and depression on and off over the last 13 years, I can wholeheartedly say I know how hard it can get. When the overwhelming waves of anxiety and/or depression crash over me, the weight of it all makes it hard to want to do anything.

Naturally, it only makes sense that it may be harder than usual to practice self-care when we’re overwhelmed with such anguish. In the past I’ve touched on some of my ways of “beating” anxiety, but we all know there are days where we just simply can’t overcome it.

And that’s  o k a y  .

Throughout life, our zombie mode phase will come around time and time again. Instead of fighting it, it’s better for us to accept and learn how to make the most of that necessary time period.

Throughout life, our zombie mode phase will come around time and time again. Instead of fighting it, it's better for us to accept and learn how to make the most of that necessary time period. Click To Tweet

Welcome to the first segment of my Spooky You Series!

With October being the spookiest month of the year, it only makes sense to discuss some things that scare us to our core…and not just in October. I’m talking about the deep, dark, cobweb-covered sides of ourselves we try to ignore most of the time. I’m talking about the thoughts and feelings that stay hidden until it’s late at night, when we’re alone and vulnerable. Like monsters under the bed, no matter how much we try to be rational, we can’t always kick their power over us.

The good thing to know is – we all have these monsters. Each and every one of us do. You may not have a zombie issue the way I do, but I bet you have some other unpleasant visitors. Maybe your life-force is constantly sucked away by energy vampires. Or perhaps your inner demons or past ghosts haunt you so often it’s unbearable. Regardless of the type of terror, it has a certain hold on you and lends to who you are as a person. There’s a very important thing to remember, though, when dealing with our own personal horror stories:

Having a dark and scary side doesn’t make you a dark and scary person. It makes you a person with enough dark and scary perspectives to appreciate the light and beautiful aspects of life.

Having a dark and scary side doesn't make you a dark and scary person. It makes you a person with enough dark and scary perspectives to appreciate the light and beautiful aspects of life. Click To Tweet

So…how does a zombie feel less dead?

With that being said, below are some tips for how to take care of yourself during your more anxious or depressing days. Because mental health differs for everyone, these coping mechanisms of mine may or may not resonate with your own journey. Feel free to take what you like and leave the rest 🙂

Start where you are – not where you think you “should” be.

Every little thing you do to take care of yourself is important, so don’t belittle your efforts – no matter how small you think they are. On days where you feel very little motivation, focus on what you did do rather than what you didn’t do. Especially when we get into our mental funks, it is so easy to focus on all of the ways we suck at life rather than how we’re doing well. There will be days where the only “successful” thing you did was get out of bed and brush your teeth – and some days you may not even get out of bed. It’s okay. You’re okay. Instead of thinking of where you “should” be, start with where you are and what you can do to comfort and support yourself best there. Each day holds a purpose – and sometimes that purpose is simply recharging.

Say “No” guilt-free.

Disappointing a loved one by cancelling plans is never a fun feeling, but neither is constantly doing things for others and not yourself! Self-care isn’t selfish…Self-care is survival. Never feel guilty for doing what is best for you. I’ve found that being completely honest with the person I’m canceling on is the best policy. Almost always, as soon as I tell someone I’m struggling mentally, they understand, accept it, and move on with their own lives. Even if they don’t understand or accept it, I move on. Dilemma over. No more worries. Time to focus on you. It’s that simple, even if it doesn’t feel like it at the time. Six months from now you probably won’t worry about it – so why bother worrying about it now? Say “no” guilt-free.

Remember this is biological.

Although this doesn’t take away the emotional pain, remembering that this is caused by something physical can take away some of its power. In most mental health cases, these icky thoughts and feelings are caused by chemical imbalances – just like diabetes is caused by insulin imbalance. When we feel depressed or anxious, we want to know why – so we try to attach that feeling to a reason. But with depression and anxiety it can be due to nothing besides the chemicals in your brain going haywire. Mel Robbins explains this phenomenon in both her book “The 5-Second Rule” and in this quick little video she posted. You are not your physical body. You are an amazing soul who is coping with the limits of your physical body. Keep learning and adjusting. Life is worth it.

There’s a season for everything: Let it be.

Let yourself feel this. Stop fighting it. A lot of the time, we become even more miserable and anxious because we’re trying so hard to not be miserable and anxious. Life comes in seasons, and not all of them are pretty or comfortable. If life itself can’t be 100% perfect, neither can your mood or perspective on life. It sucks…and in a common sense sort of way, we already know this…but it still helps to remind ourselves of this truth every now and then.

Feed your senses.

With anxiety and depression, it’s easy to find ourselves stuck in our minds. Thoughts on repeat, diving deeper as we overanalyze – soon enough we’re more upset than we were to begin with. To prevent ourselves from this downward spiral, we should engage our other senses. By distracting our brain with other stimuli to process, we can move away from the real issue: our irrational thoughts.

Whether it’s exercising, sitting in nature, dancing to music, calling a friend – whatever it is that makes you happy and distracts you (within healthy reason), DO IT.

Remind yourself that you aren’t your anxiety or depression.

Your anxiety and depression adds to who you are, but it’s your outlook and attitude that really makes who you are. Instead of thinking of how it takes away your fun and happiness, think of what it adds to your life. Trust me, I’m not saying to be thrilled you have it or anything – but at least appreciate whatever little bit of good you can from it.

For me, I am thankful that my anxiety and depression helps me connect with others who are also suffering from it. I hate when I slip into my low-energy, depressed periods or can’t-think-straight anxious days…but when I come out of them, I always have a fresh new sliver of insight.

What about you?

We all have a monster or two hidden under our bed. Everyone has their own unique struggles with mental health, so not everything works for everyone. Frustratingly but fortunately, you just have to keep trying until you find what works for you.

If depression or anxiety is something you’re currently struggling with, please know there’s hope. You are not alone in these feelings. Mental health issues are a struggle for millions of people around the world. If you need someone to talk to, please know I am always just a message away. Feel free to reach out anytime you need to vent, ask for advice, bounce an idea off of me – anything. You are not alone.