If I was to say there was a magical instant cure for Depression, I would be lying. It unfortunately is one of those things that will take a very long time to heal. As hard as that is to come to terms with though, when you find the patience and accept that as much as it sucks, you can't fix it overnight, you can then start to take steps towards your recovery. It's not a flu where you feel like shit for around a week or so and then you're fine, you feel shit for months, even years on end. Some days are better than others but generally it is a constant struggle.
The hardest thing I found about having Depression and Anxiety was to stop being in denial and stop feeling sorry for myself. "Why me?" "Why do I deserve to be sad all the time?" Are questions I would frequently ask myself, and at times I still do. But I am just starting to learn to come to terms with the fact:
I DO have Depression and Anxiety, whether I like it or not, and it is NOT going away quickly.
It's a really hard thing to come to terms with because obviously you don't want it to be true. But just like cancer or arthritis or any other chronic illness, it happens to the best of us and it is just super unlucky. Although this post has gone off to a fairly negative start, I am saying those things for a reason. Because after you come to terms with those things then you can begin to realise that there is no use just WAITING for it to get better.
There might not be any 'cures' as such but there ARE ways to make things a hell of a lot easier. And a number of people have managed to make a full recovery. Whilst I congratulate them completely, those of us who are still struggling still need some ways to manage the pain.
So rather than this being a list of ways to 'cure' depression, these are ways to make the best of a bad situation. I cannot guarantee that these will work for everyone as everyone responds to different forms of treatment differently, but these are some things that work for me:
1. Say no to things you don't want to do
This might not be the case for everyone with depression but definitely a significant amount from personal experience and through research, but I find it EXTREMELY hard to say no. I try to please everybody and have a crippling insecurity about standing up for myself. It's all well and good being a good friend and helping someone out but you should not do it to the point that you are neglecting your own wants and needs. And if anyone makes you feel bad about it then you need to seriously reconsider how healthy that friendship/relationship is for you. Which brings me to my next point...
2. Remove toxic relationships
This is one of the hardest yet MOST important points. Whether you realise it or not, there may be some people in your life, whether it be a friend, a family member or colleague, that are draining you of all your remaining energy. Not that depression, itself, doesn't drain it enough anyway! Most of the time they don't intend to, or may not realise that they are having this effect on you. But I recommend you start to analyse the relationships in your life and ask yourself a few important questions.
-Does this person make you feel good about yourself?
-Does this person consistently take you for granted?
-Does this person make you predominantly happy or sad?
If you then decide that the answer to those questions leads to questioning whether those relationships are healthy for you, I suggest you try to talk to them about it, because when you bring their attention to how you feel they might reconsider their behaviour. If not, then I suggest you ease out of that friendship and find some friends that genuinely make you feel great. Because, especially when you suffer from Depression, there is no time for people that make you feel less than amazing in your life.
3. Do things that you LOVE to do
Easier said than done, I know. Because Depression sucks the enjoyment out of anything you previously may have found fun or entertaining. But I honestly suggest picking up an easy and creative hobby to do, and try to do it as much as possible. Something challenging may work for some people, but if you're like me, then I find really simple tasks to be greatly rewarding. Sometimes I will feel completely unable to do anything, and that's ok. But when I can, I try to draw, write or create music. These types of activities are simple, yet give you a slight sense of achievement. When you've finished drawing a picture, even if that's all you managed to do in that day, it's a feeling of accomplishment that is easy to achieve and so rewarding.
4. Create a 'Done' list
To do lists can be extremely useful, for lots of people. But for the rest of us, especially people facing Depression or Anxiety, or both, find even looking at a To Do list really daunting. Seeing everything that you need to get done written down can remind you of your struggle to get them done and will add to your stress. A 'Done' list, however, is exactly what is says on the tin. It is things you have already managed to achieve that day. "Got out of bed", goes on the done list. "Ate breakfast", goes on the done list. It doesn't matter how insignificant that action may seem, for someone struggling with Depression EVERYTHING is a chore, so why not pat yourself on the back when you get them done.
5. Make small, achievable goals
Similar to my last point, but also very important is to make small achievable goals. By this I mean instead of saying "I need to clean the house", because that in itself may seem like a much bigger task as it has loads of components. If you break them down into bitesize chunks and slowly make your way through those tasks then it won't seem as daunting. For example "sort out what clothes to wash" is a lot more achievable than the whole task of cleaning the house. But if you do this for every component of the bigger goal then you are less likely to be overwhelmed (I will go into this in more detail on another post).
6. Look after your health and hygiene
I'm not trying to patronise, but let's face it, if you have Depression, sometimes it's hard to remember the simple acts of personal health and hygiene. This is, of course, totally acceptable considering the vast amount of other worries whizzing around your head, but it is one that should become a priority. I recommend setting an alarm on your phone to brush your teeth and shower and whatever else you need to do in that respect. I have alarms for everything, and I'm not ashamed of it. Sometimes I forget to brush my teeth, or shower, or take my makeup off before bed. I have alarms for all of these things so that I am literally not able to forget. And it's amazing what difference it can make to your mood when you're all smooth and squeaky clean.
7. Take your meds!
Not necessarily applicable for everyone suffering from Depression, but if you have been prescribed anti-depressants, it is SO important to take them everyday, at the same time. They are extremely strong drugs and not to be tampered with. I am currently on 200mg Sertraline and I know even the slight change in my medication taking routine can have such a huge effect. If you feel they are not working for you, PLEASE do not stop taking them suddenly. This can make you more depressed than you were before and it is so dangerous. Please talk to your doctor to slowly wean off them.
8. Go outside
Maybe it's a walk in the park, maybe you go into town, maybe you walk to the corner shop, or around your block, or even just sit in your garden. But I highly recommend that you leave the house at least once a day. I know it may seem difficult, but only do as much as you're capable of. Not only will you get some fresh air, you will get some Vitamin D and potentially some exercise. It will also make you feel as if you have done something with your day, even if you only make it to your garden.
9. Try to eat healthily
Now I know what you're thinking "eat well and exercise, same old". I know that you know that. And I also know how extremely hard that can be for someone with depression. "How am I supposed to exercise and eat well if I can't get out of bed and I have no appetite or motivation to cook?" you might be asking yourself. I know eating fruit and salad is the last thing that you want when you feel like shit, but it has been scientifically proven that junk food makes you feel worse. What I recommend is to at least take a multivitamin everyday. I do this so just in case I don't eat particularly well, or anything at all, that my body is still getting the nutrients it needs to function well.
10. Treat yourself with some 'me time'
You are a warrior for battling a crippling mental illness everyday, and I think that deserves a reward. Have a bubble bath, watch movies, buy yourself something nice. Whatever it is that makes you feel even that tiniest bit better, make sure you are treating yourself on a fairly regular basis as life's too short and you deserve it. You rock.
There are many therapeutic ways to make battling depression easier to manage, but these, I find, are some of the most important in my steps towards recovery.
I'd love to hear your methods of dealing with Depression so add a comment or drop me a message :)