What Does It Mean If You Just Want to Sleep All the Time?
This week in the Coping newsletter: Therapy is poorly designed for the male patient, meditating on your own death is weirdly good for your mental health, and a solution for a reader who can't stop sleeping.
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Welcome to Coping, Episode Three.
We hope you male-identifying types don't mind us pointing this out, but men are in what appears to be a mental health crisis. (A look at US suicide statistics alone says a lot.) Here's Tonic writer Phil Eil on the subject:
When we talk about men and mental health, we’re really talking about mass shootings, sexual assault and harassment, domestic violence, "toxic masculinity," and so much more. But there’s another thing, which is that while so much of the world is designed for the comfort and benefit of men, the world of therapy is not. Therapy was originally created by men to treat women 🤯. And more than a century later, it still feels like it’s playing catch-up.
Phil's story about why it's so hard to be a dude getting mental health help feels like a revelation. In today's episode of Coping, we're focused on men and mental health.
And no, we won't make you go to therapy. (But honestly? It might be a good idea.)
Ask Michelle: What if I just want to sleep all the time?
Q: When my depression is at its worst, all I want to do is sleep. Sleep just feels like it's better than being awake. What should I do? —George
A: Hi George,
Oversleeping is one of the most common physical symptoms of depression. I hear how much distress you're in, and if sleep made it better ultimately, I would recommend it in a heartbeat. But unfortunately, oversleeping perpetuates the depression cycle.
Try a workbook like this one, which will guide you through reading and exercises about overcoming depression. Do it with a therapist or on your own. If the latter, make an appointment with yourself to work through one chapter a week. Schedule it in your calendar, and hold yourself to it. It might sound cheesy and self-help-y, but research has shown that the more accountable you feel in working through your depression, the better the outcome.
When you're feeling that pull towards sleep, see if you can push yourself to go for a walk or take a shower instead, as hard as that sounds. And start small—you don't have to get to your to-do list when you're feeling this low, but you should get moving in one way or another. Otherwise it's easy to continue in this cycle of feeling stuck.
Last note: it's important to remember you don't need to wait for a feeling of motivation. Motivation comes when you get up and out.
Sending you strength from afar.
Michelle Lozano is an Associate Marriage and Family Therapist and member of the Anxiety and Depression Association of America.
And now, some stories:
Men don't go to therapy—or stay in therapy—nearly as much as women. Why, and what might change that? Tonic writer Phil Eil, a male therapy-goer and proud of it, took a look.
Do you need therapy? Here's how to tell.
Side note: Therapy sometimes makes you feel worse before you feel better, but it's still worth it.
Ok, enough psychobabble. There's an unexpectedly effective way to feel better in a few brief minutes: Meditate on your own death.
Or... go kayaking.
Sunday Night Anxiety by Matt Shirley:
📩 📩 📩 Send your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org and we might run the answer in next week's newsletter.