Dealing With Depression

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! 🙂

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Why I Left University and Why That’s Okay

My name is Martha Ryder, I am 19 years old and I dropped out of university at the end of the second term of my first year. It was a hard decision for many reasons, but the right one for many more.

Let’s go back to the Summer of 2014. I had come out of an emotionally abusive relationship in February, and suddenly I had the chance to actually be happy – months of depression and fear were finally over and I instantly noticed a difference in my mood and mentality. I spent a lot of time talking and skyping with my friends, going out with them, finally being free. Not long afterwards I fell in love with one of my best friends, and he made me incredibly happy (and still does). Throughout the whole summer I felt happier than I had ever felt before, and I barely even thought about my past relationship. I thought I was over the pain. Results day was looming over the horizon, getting closer and closer every day, and each day I felt more and more worried about my grades. But I wasn’t worrying that I wouldn’t get the grades to get into university, I was worried that I would.

Although university seemed like the perfect next step in my life, and I had been looking forward to it for years, I gradually began to realise over the summer that I was not ready for such a change in my life and in fact really did not want to go. During the exam period, I didn’t revise anywhere near as much as I should have – skyping my best friend Jorden the nights before our R.E exams going through the entire course were particularly botched revision jobs – for a number of reasons, including not long being out of a very bad stage in my life, suddenly falling into a new relationship, and of course being just plain lazy. However when I decided that I didn’t want to go to university, I didn’t feel bad about the prospects for my grades (as I had before), I thought ‘well, at least I won’t get the grades I need for uni.’

I needed ABB to get into my first choice, Royal Holloway University of London. The morning of August 15th, I got a text from Royal Holloway at 7:45 congratulating me for my unconditional offer. I felt happy and sad at the same time. I thought, at least I got good grades and can say I actually got in. When I got to my school and opened the envelope, I saw my grades: BBCC. I then felt only sad. It was like the worst case scenario; I didn’t get the grades I needed, but I still got into uni. Not that I was disappointed in the grades themselves – for the amount of work I put in, it was a miracle I got those grades. And it’s not as if I had to go to uni, right?

However, after speaking to friends and family about me not going to university, I felt incredibly pressured to go. I had been told I would never get a good job without a degree, if I didn’t go I would have to find a job and I’m clearly not ready for that, I’d be missing out on so much, and reassured that it’ll be the best time of my life. Then, Jorden, my best friend throughout all of secondary school, got into Royal Holloway too, and that was the decision maker for me. After all, what better time to go to uni than when you’re going with your best friend? So that was it, I was going to university.

I cried almost every day leading up to leaving home. I cried in the car on the way there. I cried in my room with my family and boyfriend when they were helping me move in. I cried when they left. I cried a lot, basically. That was probably a good sign that it wasn’t for me, but I was finally there, paying tuition fees and student accommodation, paying for all the textbooks, making new friends and experiencing new things. As sad as I was about leaving home and not seeing my family or boyfriend for weeks at a time, I did enjoy university. I made the most amazing friends, really enjoyed my lectures and I loved being independent. Nonetheless, I was still incredibly homesick, stressed and unhappy.

Then, a friend went through a break up, so I gave her advice on how to cope by referring back to my breakup with my ex. Then I found out one of my other friends had been through an abusive relationship. Then I found out another of my friends was currently in an emotionally abusive relationship, similar to what I had been through. Suddenly, I was surrounded by the topic of abusive relationships, hearing about the horrible things these girls that had become my best friends were going through, and then memories came rushing back to me. This was within the first few weeks of uni. From then onwards, I slipped back into depression and I developed anxiety. The combination of finding it hard being away from home, and being depressed, anxious, and going through post-traumatic stress, made life incredibly hard.

I was prescribed anti-depressants, I went to counselling, but things only got worse. I began to have panic attacks, and nightmares every time I slept. I even had nightmares that caused panic attacks. I started going home more often than usual, and even had my mum pick me up from university in the middle of the week once, due to one of those nasty nightmare/panic attack combos. One night, at the beginning of the last week of the second term, I was at home in bed with my boyfriend, and I couldn’t sleep – I felt so panicked and worried, and I didn’t know why, which was a pretty normal occurrence by this point, but still one that I couldn’t deal with. I started crying to my boyfriend about everything I was worried about; first it was my cat, then my friends, then my nightmares – everything poured out, no matter how irrational it was or not (for instance me worrying that my cat was going to die, for no actual reason). And then suddenly I stopped and decided that I couldn’t continue with university, as it was adding too much stress to my life. And just as suddenly as I decided I had to go to university, I decided I had to drop out. And the moment I made that decision, the panic inside of me died down.

I went back the next day, filled out the forms and handed them in. I spent the rest of the week enjoying spending time with my amazing friends, saying goodbye and thank you to my lecturers, and although I was still ridiculously upset about leaving my friends, I felt a lot better. This was nearly 3 weeks ago, and immediately the nightmares stopped coming every night, I haven’t had a panic attack since, and I have only felt anxious or low a few times in comparison to how it was before.

Yes I dropped out of university, but do I feel ashamed? No. I am not simply a quitter, I didn’t leave because I couldn’t be bothered or because I was no good at it, I put my health first and made a hard decision that I am already seeing the benefits of. Although I didn’t want to go in the first place, I don’t regret it, because I made such wonderful friends and expanded my knowledge vastly in the short time I was there. University is not for everyone, and if it’s not for you, that’s okay. There is so much pressure put on young people to go to university, that (in my experience) we don’t hear much about the alternatives. I am now looking for a job, and yes it is stressful, but I keep reminding myself that I shouldn’t feel bad about dropping out of university, and that I am just as good as I would have been with a degree.

Welcome to Martha’s Misadventures!

Hello and welcome to my blog! My name is Martha Ryder, I am 19 years old and an aspiring writer. I’ve been wanting to blog for a long while now, and I recently decided to finally give it a shot – I uploaded a blog onto Buzzfeed about why I dropped out of university (which I will upload here next), and received so much support from friends and family that I’ve finally plucked up enough courage to start a regular blog.

I have a lot of interests and a lot of topics I’d like to talk about, and so you can expect pretty much anything from me. (Yes, I am saying I have no real plan…) Anyway I’ll keep this short and I’ll be uploading more soon!

Thanks for reading and I hope you stick around for more! 🙂