Depression is a horrible thing to go through, and when you’re in a deep low, you can’t always see a way out of it. I’ve been suffering from depression on and off since I was 13 years old, and I’ve been in a really deep low many times. I’ve been there so often feeling helpless and hopeless, shutting myself in my room and crying my eyes out for days on end, not even having the slightest idea of how to feel better. And I know that I am just one of millions of people going through this horrible illness, and one of the lucky ones in particular for having the support of friends, family and even doctors and counsellors. Throughout the six years I have been going through this, I’ve learnt ways to deal with it and to pick myself up out of those low points. I’m hoping that my blog can be a place for not only sharing stories, interests, and opinions, but a place where I can somehow give advice and help to those going through depression or difficult times. So I’m going to share some of the things I’ve learnt about dealing with depression in the hopes that I can give inspiration and help to those going through it.
1. Don’t be ashamed of being depressed
When I first experienced depression, I didn’t understand what was happening and why I was feeling so unhappy all the time. It was the beginning of year 9 at secondary school that I began to feel this way. I couldn’t face going to school most days and of course my parents noticed that something was wrong. When they spoke to me about it and used the word ‘depression’, I felt sick. I wouldn’t speak to them about it at all. They often brought up going to the doctors about it, and every time I simply shut them down. I didn’t even tell a single one of my friends how I was feeling until the end of the school year. This is because I felt ashamed. I felt embarrassed. I didn’t want anyone to know what was going on, I didn’t even want to entertain the notion that I was depressed by even speaking about it to friends or family. And now, six years later, I realise that I should have been doing so.
The truth is, there’s no shame in being depressed. It’s a mental illness that affects a crazy amount of people. You are not alone or weird, you are not going to be judged. In fact, you are going to find support and in turn find strength by sharing your depression with others. I was recently told in a ridiculous argument on twitter that I can’t possibly be going through depression and anxiety because I had admitted it online. As if I were lying to get attention, because people with depression obviously can’t come out and actually say they are depressed. This is stupid. But as stupid as it is, it’s worrying to think that people actually have this opinion, because it is reinforcing the idea that you should be ashamed of your illness and not want anyone to know. And that idea is so very wrong. There is no shame in being depressed. You are not alone, do not be embarrassed of it, reach out and get help. Don’t be afraid of letting people know, because it’s a hard enough thing to go through with support from friends and family, let alone going through it on your own.
2. Don’t be afraid to get help
The next step after coming to terms with your depression and getting over the feeling of embarrassment or fear, is to get help. This is a very hard thing to do for a lot of people, including myself – I only decided to get help earlier this year, after almost 6 years of depression. Many, many people do not get help at all. But it’s so important that you do. Not only from your loved ones, but from professionals. I took the decision to get counselling and to go on antidepressants. It was difficult and awkward at first, and the counselling in particular had some very difficult times. But the medication, which I have been on for nearly five months now, has improved my mood and mentality in general. It has made me more willing to do things, such as starting up this blog, whereas before that was just an idea that I never got round to doing. And the counselling offered insight into what was causing me to feel so low, and it gave a real explanation and a chance to talk about things to someone that I knew would never judge me and would have good, professional advice on coping with my depression.
These are two very important steps in dealing with depression as a whole, and as I myself am still going through depression, I can’t say that I have all the answers to dealing with it. But I wanted to include these because they really are so important. The rest of my list are going to be small pick-me-up ideas on how to get yourself out of the deepest moments and make yourself feel better at least for that time. I’m not going to include things like ‘always remember that it’s going to get better!’ or ‘just push away the bad thoughts and focus on the positives!’ because as a depressed person, when people tell me to do those things, I basically think ‘fuck off’. It’s not easy at all to just focus on the good things in life, or to believe that things will get better. Also, you need to validate your feelings and give yourself time to come to terms with them, rather than ignoring them. While its good advice, I think anyone who is reading this and is suffering from depression has heard it all before and will know that it’s not easy to apply. It is true that things will get better, but being told that while you feel like not being alive, is not very helpful. So here are some of the small ways you can make yourself feel better when you’re in a really bad place:
1. Make a happy playlist
Music can make you feel so much better when you’re feeling extremely low. And the temptation is there to listen to sad songs that you relate to at that time, but this isn’t really that helpful. I find that putting on songs that are upbeat and have a positive message are really helpful. They don’t even have to have a positive message, really. You could be listing to Blink 182’s ‘Family Reunion’ and it would make you feel better, simply because it’s upbeat. So make yourself a playlist for when you’re feeling really low, and put all of your favourite happy songs on there. Whether it’s Taylor Swift or The Beatles, if it makes you happy, put it on there. When you’re feeling at your worst, just stick it on and let it cheer you up.
2. Pamper yourself
Because we all deserve a little luxury, and it really does help when you’re feeling low. Run yourself a bubble bath, have a glass of wine and your favourite comfort food, make yourself feel good. Whether that be by doing your nails, moisturising every inch of your body until you feel dreamlike, or giving yourself a little spa treatment. Anything that’s a little bit special and indulgent. And if bubble baths and manicures aren’t your thing, find what’s right for you. As long as you’re enjoying yourself by treating yourself to something you wouldn’t normally do, it’s going to help.
3. Hang out with friends even if you feel like being alone
While I was in my second term of my brief time at uni, I spent a hell of a lot of time in my room on my own. I didn’t even think about it, I just went there, rather than hanging out with my friends. It wasn’t that I didn’t want to be around them, but it was that I just wanted some alone time. But when almost every moment of every day is ‘alone time’, that’s not a good thing. That is just isolating yourself. It takes time to notice that you’re doing it, but when you do notice, you realise how bad it actually is. So if your friends ask you to come out with them or even just to relax at home with them, say yes, even if you want ‘alone time’, because once you’re actually with them, you’ll have a great time and you won’t be dwelling on your problems as much as if you were alone.
4. Get up. Get dressed. Make your bed. Or you’re grounded.
Okay you’re not grounded, but you definitely aren’t going to feel good if you spend your whole day in your pyjamas, without brushing your hair or your teeth til bedtime. Come on, we’ve all been there. And as much as you might think not getting up til noon and then shuffling round the house in your pj’s like a zombie might be the nice little break you need, it’s not. Wake up at a normal, decent time (yes, even on the weekends), make your bed, have a shower, get dressed and get ready to face the day, even if that day is going to be spent binge-watching Community on Netflix and playing The Sims. It will make you feel better. Promise.
5. Creature comfort
When you’re crying your eyes out, you often feel like you need some physical reassurance of love. Yeah sure you can get that from your parents or your boyfriend, but do they have fur? No. At least I should hope not. So many times when I have been in a serious low, my cat has headbutted the door to my room open and started being stupid and adorable and cuddly, and every time, it works. Or on the other hand I have stumbled my way through the house until I found him and then curled up around him for a cuddle. Either way, having a little soft thing that loves you and wants to cuddle you is never going to feel anything other than lovely. Well, sometimes annoying, but mainly lovely. So when you’re feeling extremely upset, go find your pet, or if you don’t have a pet go steal your neighbour’s pet (no don’t do that) and give it some serious cuddles.
These may not be your thing, or they might be just what you need. You don’t have to follow my advice by doing these things, but you should find the small things that make you feel better, and make sure that next time you’re feeling really low, you do them. It’s very likely that I will add to this list as time goes on, and possibly even write blogs focusing on particular things that make you feel better. I’ve often been feeling incredibly low and Google searched ‘how to deal with depression’ and gotten articles telling me to ‘think positively!’ come up, so I wrote this blog in the hopes that it would give some real (albeit small) solutions to making yourself feel better, because I know how hard it is to figure it out on your own when you’re feeling hopeless.
I hope that I managed to help someone out there, and I hope you’ll stick around for more posts! Leave a comment telling me your best ways of cheering yourself up when you’re going through a particularly bad time, I’d love to know!
Thanks for reading! 🙂