Recently it was found that the rates of people experiencing depression have doubled since lockdown. I can’t say I’m surprised. It has been a mentally challenging time for everyone on one level or another. Personally, I have had to deal with depression for a number of years now. I was diagnosed when I was sixteen but I’m pretty sure it dates back further than that.
I wanted to share some of the ways I deal with depression in case anyone else finds it helpful. I don’t have any psychological or medical qualifications. This is completely from experience and what I have read about mental health. I should probably reference my various therapists and counsellors too. If you are confused about what depression actually is, here is a useful link. I’ll also link some helpful organisations.
For me, I had to come to a state of acceptance.
You can spend a lot of time being angry at yourself, other people and the world for the fact you have depression but it doesn’t make it go away. The more you fight symptoms, the worse it gets. You are already having to fight to keep going. Don’t pick another fight with your depression.
Once I accepted I had depression I could understand it.
I’ve found that therapists and counsellors are the best at explaining your condition to you. They get to know you so can personalise the scientific information behind depression. Talking treatments aren’t for everyone and that’s okay. There’s loads of material out there about depression and how to handle it. You won’t find everything useful. Different things work for different people. We all have our own strategies that allow us to deal with depression. I’m pretty sure you’ll find something that clicks with you in some way.
The more you understand your depression, the easier it is to prepare for it.
I’m using the term ‘your depression’ because while it is a condition with a list of common symptoms, in my experience it is very different for everyone. The causes, expressions and impacts of depression vary so much its never exactly the same. Gradually you will work out what helps your depression and what makes it worse. The condition is never completely predictable. It has a habit of adapting or just popping out of nowhere. In general, the aim with depression is to manage it, not cure it. It’s possible to come up with a few coping strategies to try out. They won’t always work but with depression, it’s the small victories that keep you going.
Take preventative measures to help you deal with depression.
The term ‘triggered’ is used a lot these days. It’s important to remember that being triggered is a real thing. Certain things causes us to feel certain emotions even when we don’t want to. Identify your unhealthy habits that make your depression worse and try to replace them with healthy habits. It could be consuming content on a certain topic or not getting enough sleep. These seem like small activities but it all adds up. The more we chip away at our mental wellbeing, the less we are able to cope with depression.
Don’t be afraid to stop.
Sometimes I just have to stop. I can’t do anything. I can’t think. Whatever distraction works at that moment I do it. Depressive thoughts are cruel. They remind you of things you are begging to forget. They cast doubts of all that you are and everything you do. They steal hope from the future. Sometimes the symptoms of depression are too overwhelming to overcome and you have to wait until it passes. Fortunately, more days than not I can live through my depression. There are still some days where depression lives through me. You should never feel guilty about the days you can’t work through it. It’s really damn hard and the days you have done everything despite your depression is a testament to your strength. Even the best fighters need a break sometimes.
Never give up.
Whatever you do, never give up. Levels of depression come and go. No matter how long you have to wait it out, it will end. I don’t want to say all the sentimental things and cheesy lines because they never helped me feel better when I was bad. All I can say is your condition doesn’t define you so don’t let it make decisions for you. If you are struggling with suicidal thoughts, please reach out for help. There are so many hotlines and organisations ready to help you.
There is so much I could say about how I deal with depression. I’ve had it for at least five years so its not exactly a blip in my memory. If you are concerned that you are experiencing depression, please talk to your doctor and get whatever help you can (even though the NHS isn’t the best at dealing with mental illness). Some other content you might find useful are my posts about self-harming, therapy, poetry about depression, anxiety and how we disregard teenage mental illness.
To all those suffering from depression that has started recently or years ago, I have so much respect for you.