I wrote these ‘tips’ for a dear friend who’s having rough time. She told me it would be a very good idea if I’d share these publically. And since I can’t help but want to help people (hey, I’m a nurse, so sue me) I decided I might as well.
When it comes to depression and mental illness I don’t have any ready-made answers. I do have a few things that work for me (for as far as anything really works). These are not laws set in stone, or cures or solutions for my depression and other issues. They give me some relief though. Maybe they’re useful to you too.
I’ll try to keep some order in this, but my mind is usually all over the place, bear with me.
Be kind to yourself. That sounds really easy, but it isn’t.
Compliment yourself on what you’re good at, on things you get done, and things you did well. However small they may seem, (hey, I totally rocked that omelette today) little victories are your lego-blocks to build the castle. Take ownership of your skills. You got mad skills.
Conversely, be forgiving for your flaws, mistakes, and inability to do things. You cannot win at everything, and that’s just fine. Acknowledge it, and let go. So you burnt dinner, or you got the kids to school late. It’s not the end of the world and doesn’t reflect on the wonderful person you are. Accept and move on, don’t keep beating yourself up over it. (I’m still working on this one, but being aware already helps)
Depression is an integral part of a person. There is no amount of meds, treatment, or tricks to make that go away. Acceptance and recognising when it hits you are vital. Because depression lies. It tells you you are unworthy and alone. You’re not. Sometimes you have to actively remind yourself that it is your brain playing tricks on you.
On the physical side, it may help to ask for blood-work to be done. A big cause in depression can be lack of certain vitamins (B12, D). Or just take supplements for those and see what happens.
And for the non-physical parts:
The heaviest moments can make it impossible to get anything done. I very much know the feeling of being stuck in your own head. Thoughts just whirling around with no beginning and even worse, no end. I have a few ‘techniques’ that can halt them. For the most part it is distracting yourself while it blows over. But it does seem to help.
For me it helps to put on music and sing along. Did you know that 20 minutes of singing releases the ‘happy hormone’. Or I just watch a video of my favourite artist, beloved episode of a series, pick up my bass and play some, or, if it gets really bad, I attempt to paint.
For you it might be sitting down with your kids to colour, or anything really. Something soothing for the mind, something you know but is distracting enough to lower the volume on the depressing voices (knitting, drawing, colouring, sewing, gardening, anything you find distracting and comforting)
Another one for me, this helps me when I’m in bed and the whirl of thoughts in the downwards spiral prevent me from calming down, is visualisation. This is a really strong one in my case, because I’m absolutely not a visual person. So to imagine anything, thinking of what it looks like takes up so much processor power of my brain, it automatically drowns out other torrents of thoughts. Imagine your happy place. If you don’t have one, invent it. Where are you? What does it look like? Maybe it’s a beach, maybe it’s the kitchen at a beloved friend, anywhere that makes you feel good. What does it smell like, who’s there with you? What do you hear, taste? (I love lying on the grass with someone I love, getting my hair stroked. Silly, but it works for me)
Being overwhelmed by life
This sometimes happens to me. I don’t respond well to being around people all the time. And especially if there’s loads to take care of, it can happen that I get totally blocked. So much to do, I don’t have a clue of where to start, so I don’t.
What helped me was writing it all out. Last time I even made a colour-coded timeline. What had to be done when? I allowed myself to stress over a limited amount of things, saving the rest for after that was done. To de-clutter my mind I took care of the things I could take care of in advance and then I just put them on the shelf until their designated time. If the thoughts were trying to take over, I pulled up my timeline and reminded myself of where I was. Telling myself (sometimes out loud) ‘There is nothing I can do about/for that now. It is useless to waste brainpower on it’.
Give yourself time to worry, over-think, and fret about things for a limited amount of time once a day. Use egg timer and set for 15min, for example.
Wow, that was a lot more than I’d intended to write. As I said, these are things that work for me. I’ve done and do everything on the list, except for the worry-time with egg-timer, that one is from someone I know who was going through a heavy depression.
I hope you find useful tips in this, or that it helps you find your own mechanisms to handle things.
Keep in mind, you are a perfectly, beautiful person. The depression will try to convince you otherwise. Let that be your buoy on the wild waves until you find an anchor.
These were my tips. Feel free to add your own in the comment section.
Lots of love, stay safe.