One thing I’ve realised over a lifetime of suffering with Depression is that the power of self-help is hugely under-rated. There are so many things you can do to improve the way you feel and considering the waiting times for professional help, it’s a smart move to tap into your own resources. I had a think about the best ways I’ve found to manage my own Depression and here are my top 10 tips:
1) Do the exact opposite of what you feel like doing. If you feel like staying in bed all day, get up. If you feel like you want to withdraw from the world, go out and meet a friend. If you don’t want to eat, you should make yourself eat. Depression does not have your best interests at heart. I’ve realised that if I make choices based on what my Depression would like me to do, I ALWAYS feel worse.
2) Be patient. It takes a long time to reach the depths of despair and the reasons you feel like this may take a fair bit of unravelling. Don’t expect to feel better overnight.
3) Be kind to yourseIf. Don’t beat yourself up with all kinds of negative statements like ‘I’m worthless, I’m useless, I’m a burden’ etc. I would bet good money that you are none of these things. It’s the Depression talking. Depression makes you see yourself and the world through brown tinted glasses. Write a list of your positive points, or ask someone else to. Think about what you would buy for a friend who was going through a dreadful time and buy it for yourself. I once bought myself a massive bunch of flowers and some chocolates when I was suicidal. It definitely took the edge off and at least I had nice things to eat and look at while I felt crap.
4) Accept that you are ill. Depression is an illness just the same as heart disease and cancer. It’s not your fault. But there is a lot you can do to try and get better.
5) Ask for help. It’s important to reach out for help, whether that’s with counselling/therapy, medication or simply asking friends and family to support you.
6) Have faith that things will get better. It may seem a preposterous suggestion that you could ever feel any differently than the way you do now. But as long as you don’t kill yourself, there’s every chance things will improve. People can and do recover from Depression.
7) Read, read read. Trawl through self-help books and internet resources to find nuggets of wisdom and inspiration that you can apply to your own situation. Educate yourself on Depression; knowledge is power.
8) Keep to a routine and if you don’t have one, create one. There is nothing Depression loves more than a complete lack of distraction. Don’t sit at home alone as this is the perfect environment for Depression to drag you further into its hellish pit. Bear in mind that Depression is not as obvious to others as you might think. I’ve shown up at work, weddings, christenings and a host of other events and been shocked that the way I feel is completely invisible. Only the people who know you extremely well will have even the slightest inkling that anything is wrong. So use this to your advantage and don’t be self- conscious that your Depression will knock people over as soon as you come through the door. If getting out distracts you even for five minutes, it’s worth it.
9) Don’t self-medicate with drugs or alcohol unless you are sure you want to feel 100 times worse.
10) Try writing about how you feel. You may find that reasons begin to emerge for the way you feel, or that getting it out on paper is better than having it eating away inside you. Writing can be hugely therapeutic. Try starting a blog and if you’re worried about going public, do it anonymously. When I started mine, I was amazed at the support I got from complete strangers online. It really helps to know there are other people who feel the same way you do. WordPress is very easy to use by the way, even when you are really horribly depressed.
I hope this helps! Let me know if you have any tips for managing Depression in the comments box below.
If you would like to see me in the flesh talking about these tips in more detail, head over to my brand new YouTube channel!