Depression – Never a welcome visitor but sometimes you have to let them in and accommodate
Depression can come hand in hand with a disability or chronic illness – which is annoying. As if you don’t have enough to deal with anyway, and then bad mental health wants to muscle in on the scene. Thanks brain!
You try and remain positive but depression has a way of warping your sense of reality so everything seems like closed doors. You do your best to get on with things but the power of the mind is so strong that it totally consumes you. And no matter how many people tell you to “cheer up”, it doesn’t make any difference. If it was that easy, you’d look yourself in the mirror and simply say “Today I’m going to be happy!” – but it’s not that simple, is it?
Fortunately, chronic depression is not something I’ve faced although I did experience a 6 month spell of depression when my mum died and I broke up with my 5 year girlfriend within the space of a couple of months. My world turned upside down for a while and my outlook on life was so bleak that it really made it difficult to function. However, there were a few things I did which helped me get through that period of my life and I’d like to share them with you in the hope that you may benefit from my experieinces.
1) Write things down – during this spell I felt like my financial situation was in ruins and I wouldn’t be able to make it to the end of the month. However by writing my finances down and doing a few calculations it was clear that my situation was fine, it was just my mindset that was out of whack, making me feel like things were all doom and gloom. This can be applied to many things because when you put things down on paper you actually see the reality, rather than your warped opinion of the situation.
2) Speak to someone – I spent 6 months talking to a specialist who was able to coach me through this period. She was able to help me see the reality by asking the right questions and making me focus on the nuts and bolts of the situation. Talking to people outside of your social circle is great because they’re there to help YOU and not themselves. Too often your friends just want you to be happy in the shortest easiest time frame and this is not always the best way forward.
3) Practice wellbeing – I would try to create a mini holiday by going through the following routine several times per week. Go for a swim, have a sauna and have a sunbed or a facial solarium (use sparingly). I found that this would perk me up slightly and make me leave feeling lighter and less burdened.
4) Exercise – Exercise is always important and should make up part of everyones life, but if you’re suffering from bad mental health it can have two benefits for you. The first being the endorphin release which has been proven to improve your mood, and the second is the social aspect – by doing something active with others you get to have a chat and loose yourself in conversation for a while.
5) Anti-depressants – There is a bit of a stigma with anti-depressants and I can understand why you might want to avoid them. It’s also true that they’re not a cure for depression, and merely mask the symptoms, but this means you can function better while you work on the real issues with the hope that they’ll be improved over time. This is not my area of expertise though so seeking advice from your GP is the best bet here.
6) Meditation – although I didn’t practice meditation when I was going through my spell of depression, it is something which I try to make part of my life these days, as it’s good for focus, relaxation and general mental wellbeing. There are several apps which you can use or you can simply try to spend 5 minutes per day clearing your mind and shutting off from the rest of the world.
7) Focus on healthy eating – your diet can go both ways when depression is concerned. Complete lack of appetite is a very common symptom, but alternatively comfort eating is the other side of the coin, neither of which are a smart move. Having a clear structure to your diet and ensuring that you’re getting the right kind of nutrition is key to keep yourself functioning properly.
8) Sticking to a routine – sometimes you may want to just lay in bed all day, but trying to get up and stick to a routine can be great for getting through tough times. A morning workout and a healthy breakfast is a great way to get you up and out of bed, and although this can seem like trying to climb a mountain, reminding yourself that you’ll feel better if you do it can help you to make it through the day.
So that may or may not have helped but hey, I tried 😉 Don’t be afraid to visit your GP/counsellor/medical professional to get the help you need. And if you need help on the exercise & nutrition front, I’m all ears (quite big ones, in fact). Take advantage of my December offer below to get you set up in time for the New Year.