Note: this is all from my experience, or my friends’, or my experience of helping my friends through various things. What works for us in each situation may not be the solution for you. I just want to provide information as a brief guide to helping you through “those days”.
You know the feeling. You wake up and it’s like a brick is tied to your chest. Anything you had planned on doing is out of the window. You can barely summon the motivation to get out of bed, let alone get dressed or go outside. Or maybe something happens, someone says the wrong thing, something triggers you, or you’re not quite ready to do your presentation/go to that event/see that person. Either way you’re feeling lethargic and your brain just. won’t. stop.
These days are really difficult, and I know all you’ll want to do is just curl up in your bed and ignore the world. You just have to do as much as you can.
It is very important to eat something, anything. It doesn’t have to be a whole meal but as long as you eat some toast, or a banana, or something. If you struggle with things like that, then start small and have something you can manage, screw “mealtime-appropriate” food.
A shower, if you’re up to it, can go a long way in making you feel better (or a bath if that’s your thing). If not, wet wipes and dry shampoo are your friends. They can help freshen you up and make you feel cleaner on those days when you feel gross but a shower is impossible. Deodorant and perfume/body spray are also beneficial. “Sink baths” are also an option, if you want to freshen up or wash your hair. Room spray or air freshener, by making your environment smell better, can lift your mood – if it smells fresh then your mood will be lifted. Bad-smelling or unclean areas are not conducive to good mental and physical wellbeing.
It doesn’t matter if there’s still a while before you need to do washing, clean pyjamas can be ever so helpful in making you feel better. And it totally counts as getting changed. If you can’t stay in, then wear something that makes you feel good and is comfortable. Do your makeup, style your hair, anything that makes you feel fabulous or at the very least, put-together. It may not fool your mind but at least you’re making an effort so you can almost “reset” your thinking and feel refreshed.
It’s alright to postpone things. Coursework, the washing up, a cinema trip, whatever. If it would be bad for you to go or do it at this time, there is nothing wrong with avoiding it until you are better prepared to deal with it. Do try to push yourself though. Even when you’re having a bad day, you can still end up having fun or lessening your stress if you do something you had planned or have to do, like going out for lunch or doing a test.
If your family or flatmates know about your illness and are compassionate, you should tell them (or your friends, if not). They can help you, for example by making excuses for you, staying with you or helping to lessen the burden of housework etc. Tell someone if you think you’re going to harm yourself. That could be someone you know in real life, or an online, phone or text hotline. Company can in some cases be important to you. Even if it’s just sitting on your laptops in the same room or cooking tea at the same time.
If you have medication for anything, please take it as prescribed. Don’t let yourself miss it, because then that can spiral every time you have a bad day and you can end up not taking it for weeks. I know how easy it is to end up that way. Don’t take too much for any reason, not even to “make up for it”. In dire circumstances, you can put someone you trust in charge of it.
For people with dysphoria, I know that bad days hit you harder than most people. There are things you or other people can do to make it easier. Getting someone else to buy any gendered products, like razors or sanitary products, can help you stop worrying about being misgendered (because unfortunately that is the shitty world we live in). Wearing clothes you’re comfortable in (if you’re safe to do so). Remember that your identity is valid, whatever gender you are.
Self care is valid and important, and you shouldn’t feel bad for practising it. Whether it’s taking a shower when you need one or buying yourself something nice, self care is necessary. You have to take care of yourself.
Ultimately know that it’s not your fault, and it’s not the end of the world. There’s always tomorrow to pick back up again, or the day after, or the day after that. Mental illness is an illness like any other and you will have bad days, that’s only to be expected. It’s okay to not be up to things, it’s okay to not be able to function “normally”, it’s okay to be ill.
Just take it little steps at a time. You’ll get there.