I’ve suffered with clinical depression since I was 13 years old, among other conditions; but today we’ll just focus on depression. I thought I’d share with you all some of the things that help me get through the bad times, in hopes that it might help someone else. So, here’s my list of 10 ways to help yourself when depression kicks in:
- Talk to a family member or a friend, or someone you trust. When you feel really bad it’s important you reach out and tell people, it’s hard to do and sometimes I’m not very good at it.. but I think it’s pretty important so someone else knows how bad you are feeling and can check up on you and make sure you’re doing okay.
- If you’re not able to get hold of someone you know, or would find that too difficult.. then, another place I like to go and vent is a place called, “Elefriends” It’s run by the mental health charity, “mind” and is a great place to get support and meet other people suffering from mental health conditions. There are plenty of places online you can go talk to people, but this is one of my personal favourites. I even have the app on my phone.
- Take some time for yourself. Little things can make you feel so much better. For me, things like taking a shower can really help. I’m not very good at self care when I’m in a slump of depression. Basic needs go out the window. I don’t wash, I don’t even brush my hair, I basically just stay in bed feeling sorry for myself. I know, gross. A couple of days of that is fine if you need it, but any more than that then you need to do something nice for yourself.. even if you have to force yourself to. Also, doing something nice for yourself can go beyond basic things. Taking time out to do your hair, makeup, have a pampering session, etc can always help lift your mood too.
- Watch a comedy. The amount of times a good comedy film or stand-up comedian has helped me when I’m in a bad place, I can’t even begin to count. It doesn’t always work, but watching something funny and hearing other people laugh can often help make you feel better. Or failing that, a film or TV series that you really enjoy can be great to have on. Lately, I have spent an obscene amount watching YouTube videos when I’m feeling down. I watch a lot of gaming channels and vloggers and they make me feel less alone, I have some I’m subscribed to and I wait patiently for their next video to come out. I have no idea how my faves manage to upload twice a day, every day. I’m thankful they do, though, as it gives me something to look forward to.
- Exercise. I know, it’s the last thing I usually feel like doing.. not just when I’m depressed either, but in general I’ve never been a huge fan! I don’t like to get sweaty.. being sweaty makes me feel gross… but I do know that exercise does lift my mood after I’ve done it. Of course I have to immediately shower so I don’t feel so disgusting, but, it does really work. I’m not just saying it either, there’s been scientific studies into it.
- Get creative. Being creative is something I feel like I need to do from time to time and it can be so rewarding. I like to knit, even though I’m not very good at it. I like to draw, again, I suck at it. Oh, I got into adult colouring this year too, it’s been a huge new craze across the world and it’s surprisingly very therapeutic to do. I like to write, whether that’s blogging or story writing, it’s something I get pleasure from. Something I really used to enjoy was roleplaying online, but I’ve not found anywhere or anyone lately that I can make stories with. I enjoy baking too, even though a lot of the time my baking consists of getting a kit, I plan to change that and branch out a bit more. I do a lot of different things, but I’m not a master at any of them. What’s the phrase, “Jack of all trades, master of none”? That’s exactly how I am. I often beat myself up for not being amazing at the things I like to do.. but I find it difficult to stick to one thing, so it’s hard to get super good if you’re forever doing different things.
- Play or snuggle with a pet. My cats are my kids, some people might think that’s really sad and pathetic (I’m pretty sure that my sister thinks I’m crazy, as she actually has kids) I’m not in a good place mentally or physically to have children.. so my cats are my children and I don’t care what anyone thinks about that. I got my first cat when I was in a particularly bad place mentally. He gave me a reason to get up every day, to feed him. Some days I struggled to do anything for myself, but I had a kitten to care for and I believe he helped me through those times. I was struggling again pretty badly in March, of this year. My fiancé works away a lot and I’m often by myself, so we decided to get another cat. We now have a little girl and she’s so affectionate. She is so different to our furry boy. They don’t get on yet, but I hope one day they will and he will stop chasing her and tormenting her. But, yeah, having a pet around can do wonders. If you don’t have your own pet, you should borrow from someone else or go visit someone who has one.. some time with a pet is always awesome.
- Play a game. I know this might not help everyone, as not everyone is a gamer.. but I guess this can apply to board games too, or books, or even reading a new blog. I find that getting a new game is the best thing for me, because it gives me the extra motivation I need to want to play it. Personally, I like simulation and management type games, they give my brain something else to focus on other than the negative stuff going on in my brain.
- Eat some chocolate. Now this one might not work for everyone, again, as you might not like it or have an allergy to milk or have other dietary needs.. but it’s a proven anti-depressant. It has a chemical in it (tryptophan) that causes the release of serotonin in the brain, which in turn makes you happy. It’s one of the reasons I insist on having chocolate when I start my period, it helps me out loads. Now, I don’t recommend you have chocolate every day, even though that would be awesome if you could and not put on weight.. but.. whenever you need a pick-me-up, I’d say it’s great at helping out.
- Make sure you get enough sleep. Not enough sleep will make you depressed.. aim for at least eight hours of sleep a night. I don’t really function well on less than twelve, but that’s just me. I think I just enjoy sleep too much. My longest sleep was eighteen hours long and it was epic.
Most of these you’re going to need to force yourself to do. I know lack of motivation can be a huge problem when depression takes hold. Even things you enjoy doing just don’t seem fun anymore, or everything seems too overwhelming. There are days when I hide under the duvet and wish the world would go away, sure.. but on the days where I can force myself to do even one of these things on the list, the day doesn’t seem as bad.
If you’re feeling suicidal though, please, please, please call the Samaritans. You can talk about anything you like with them. If you’re in another country other than the UK please Google for your local crisis line. Don’t be afraid to reach out for support.
I hope some of these can help you out when you’re feeling down. It’s super hard to cope with everything life throws at us sometimes.. and sometimes it’s just a chemical imbalance and there’s nothing much we can do about it. We just have to help ourselves in any small way we can.
In combination with anti-depressants, of which I’ve taken many varieties, this list seems to help me get through. Let me know if you find these helpful and let me know what you guys do to help yourselves, you might do something that helps me out too.