A little over two months ago, my son started sleeping mostly through the night. A month later, I realized that despite getting regular and decent rest, I was still feeling extremely low energy, my thinking was foggy, and it was rare for me to want to get projects done, leave the house, or even get dressed. After several weeks of thinking maybe I was coming down with something, a lightbulb went on. "I think...I'm depressed?" I told my husband, even as I was pushing against the idea. "Yeah, that's basically what you've been describing" he immediately responded. "Let me know what I can do to support you." I have a life long history of depression. I was eventually diagnosed with dysthymia at 21, but I have mostly rejected that label since then. I am grateful that now I am mature enough to see that unless I am willing to name my struggles with honesty, I am not going to get past them.
In the month since that conversation, I have catapulted myself headlong into creating healthy changes for myself. This is the first in a series of posts about the different steps I have taken to manage my depression and overcome some of the hurdles it has created in my life. I am not a mental health professional, and what worked for me might not work for you, but I want to share so that:
1) Other people experiencing depression feel less alone and stigmatized by my being open about it.
2) In case anything I have done to help myself resonates with you as a step that might help you too.
Okay, so, diving in: One of the biggest confidence boosting steps I have taken (long-term depression usually results in low self-esteem) is to create a capsule wardrobe for myself, and a commitment to get dressed before 9am, everyday, even though I am a SAHM and I could wear pajamas all day if I wanted to. A capsule wardrobe is a seasonal collection of your clothes, based around a small collection of mostly neutral basics, with a few pieces in accent colors, and lots of accessories to give your small wardrobe personal character and variety. Pretty much everything in a capsule wardrobe goes with everything else, and everything in it should fit well, making getting dressed really easy. Generally the recommendation is somewhere around 36 pieces of clothing. I started my capsule wardrobe journey and started chronicling my outfits each day. Seeing photos of my outfits gave me a better idea of how I really looked to others, but I found I was still struggling to feel great in what I was wearing.
It wasn't until I found Mapp Craft that the capsule wardrobe really clicked for me and started to make a big difference in my self-image. Along with paring down your wardrobe, Mapp Craft offers a great step by step tutorials on identifying your personal style, accessorizing in a stylish way, and formulas for foolproof outfits. Once I had these tools in my fashion tool belt, my outfits started to really come together. I started getting out of the house more, armed with the confidence that not only did I look great, I projected a style unique to me. I joined the Mapp Craft Facebook group and started sharing my outfits and watching the daily videos by JennMapp who runs and writes the whole thing. Getting ideas from the online community and positive feedback on my own outfits has been really fun and helpful.
Now I look forward to getting dressed instead of it feeling like a chore. I get complements on my outfits every time I go out, and 95% of what I am wearing are the same clothes I already owned. I helped my mom put together her own capsule wardrobe and she has said the same about receiving a lot more compliments on the same old clothes. I got a couple of key little things to pull my wardrobe together, but it wasn't until I really got to know and understand my personal style that I knew what those missing pieces were.
There is an element of "fake it til you make it" to this part of my fight against depression. Projecting a pulled together, confident style helps me work on my self-esteem from the outside in. When I take the time to put together a great outfit, put on a little make up, and fix my hair, those are things I don't have to worry about when I go out. My head is full of anxieties and negative self talk, and having a solid system for feeling confident about my style just gives me the luxury of shutting up one of those streams of insecurities, and turning down the volume on my self-doubts.
Have you ever tried a capsule wardrobe? How did it work for you? Do you have any questions about it? I would love to hear from you.