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How to avoid relapsing when you're unemployed and need structure to your day?

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I was recently hospitalized for a fairly severe depression during which I felt suicidal.Thanks to a new cocktail of meds along with a decent therapist(finally!) I feel considerably better.I no longer feel suicidal but I am still struggling a bit to stay afloat.I'm not ready at this point to go to work but too much free time is never good for my depression.I'm a ruminator who often gets lost in my own negative thoughts if I don't keep busy.I could use some ideas on how best to structure my day to avoid falling back into severe depression.For those of you who are currently not working,how do you keep busy and avoid falling back into the abyss? If you are working and have any ideas please feel free to share also.Thanks!

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I've recently dropped down to working part time.

  • Does the hospital you were in have any outpatient groups you could attend? I attend mine more for the social support and because it gets me out of the house rather than the content I learn there.

  • I'm thinking of volunteering again, I enjoyed it and it's something I can put on my resume without the stress of working

  • Try and get up at the same time each day

  • Usually it's best to plan out your day in advance. I'm a bit obsessive about it and use iCal and colour code categories. I can scan it and see if I'm working too much, or not doing enough fun things, or not socialising enough.

  • For ideas of things you could do, check out the adult pleasant events schedule

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If you're into music you can take up an instrument and set a practice schedule for yourself and/or take lessons.

Music is my tool to keep me out of my depression. When I'm not working I can play for hours without feeling like I wasted time, and I always feel great afterward.

You could also invest in a gym membership and plan to go at the same time every day or enroll in a fitness class. I won't lie, I suck at making myself go to the gym, so it's way easier for me to take a class. That way I know that the instructor and other people expect me to show up.

Yoga is also awesome. There are usually classes in most areas or you can get a video or two and do it on your own. I love my yoga DVD. It's a struggle to make myself do it, but I always feel great afterward. The same way I struggle with going to the gym haha

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I knit. After learning last fall, I find it kind of zen. That is kind of lame, but because of my headaches, I can't really reliably schedule anything outside of my house. I really love it, maybe you have a hobby you could throw yourself into?

When I lived in Pittsburgh, I volunteered half-time for AIDS and HIV organizations. I really enjoyed it, because it was a cause I really cared about. It meant when I met new people, I already shared an interest to talk about. I started volunteering for one organization, and then it snowballed, and I then was volunteering for 4 organizations, and was on the board of two of them, and on the Pittsburgh committee for HIV education, etc. This started from just once a week for 3 hours.

It was the best job I ever had, maybe even more than working with dogs.

P.S. It's also a great way to network for new jobs. I got interviews, and finally a "real" job through contacts I met volunteering.

Edited by crtclms
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I agree with what has already been said.

Is there anything that you are interested in, or anything you want to try? Because you might be able to find a local social group that focusses on a hobby. My art class is like that.

Going for a walk. Exercise and fresh air are always good. Perhaps if you want this can be time spent with nature, or go to a park. That is a good way of filling a couple of hours, especially if the weather is good.

Volunteering is a good way to spend time and meet other people, plus it looks really good on your CV when you return to employment in the future. Is there a cause you are passionate about? There is pretty much always somebody who could use a volunteer.

I find it better to get out than stay in.

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I can't volunteer because my social anxiety is too high, plus other issues. However, getting up and going to bed at the same time has been important for me. I make an effort to email a friend every day to keep in contact since I'm so unreliable making dates. I definitely recommend group therapy if it's available to you. That anchors my week, plus regular therapy.

Teaching my master martial arts class was very important to me. I'm going back into it slowly and training an assistant instructor to back me up if I can't make myself go. That is the continuation of a 25 year passion. It's one of the few things I hope to never lose after losing so much to MI.

That's all I've got right now.

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I'd support the volunteering suggestion:

it's interesting that *sometimes* while one may be struggling to find enough resources to cope with one's own problems or needs, one can find that there's plenty available to fill some other people's.

Not an always, and it depends on finding the right niche, but it can be good on several levels.


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I think people have made a lot of good suggestions that I think make sense. When I've been in a serious depression, getting out of bed, washing up, and eating breakfast was my main goal of the day. If I could do that much, I didn't feel totally useless.

If you don't have social anxiety and you are okay with going out, try simple errands like going to the public library and checking out the magazines or the movies. Stop at a coffee shop and have a cup and read a newspaper. Go to a farmers' market and check out the fresh produce. Doing things like this helped me to get out of the house and feel somewhat human.

I also believe in exercise and good nutrition. You will feel better physically if you exercise and it will help you to continue to climb out of the Dark Pit. Good food will give you energy and help you to keep a level mood.


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  • 2 weeks later...

i've always had this problem and if i'm able to actually sit down and focus i will read a book.

i recently decided to play the cello out of nowhere and i also get lessons for it. the only downside is it's getting pretty expensive (renting + paying for lessons) but i am enjoying the challenge. i try to practice 15-20min/day and i usually feel accomplished afterwards. it's definitely something to look into if your interested in music.

there's always netflix or on demand if you just wanna chill out.

doing arts and crafts like scrapbooking. or even coloring in a coloring book.

i also second taking walks...they can be anywhere. sometimes just looking at the trees blowing in the wind can be really soothing.

it can be really challenging to find something that works for you and is fulfulling. but there are really infinite possibilities, you just have to look for them. just looking for stuff to do can certainly pass the time! and it's not time wasted, either.

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Completely reiterate what everyone else is saying. When I was going through a bad depression recently, I'd go for long walks with my iPod, and play my guitar for hours at a time. I thought about volunteering, but the thought of going out out for anything beyond work seemed like too much. But if you have a hobby that you love, built on that! Or it could be a great time to start a new one. :)

I've always been a strong believer that if you're doing something that brings you joy, even if it isn't "productive", it's never wasted time!

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