Did you know that around 5 million people in the UK live with some sort of depression? That’s a lot of people and I’m one of them. Recently, that black cloud that sits in my periphery has been drawing in. These days, I recognise the signs that a storm is brewing and I know what’s about to engulf me. Today it has hit and I feel worse than I have at any point this year. There is no rhyme or reason behind it. No cause or association. It’s just the way I’m wired.
However, I’m well used to this pattern. Being that I have a young baby, you are probably thinking postnatal depression. It isn’t. I’ve lived with it my whole adult life and probably most of my teens. When it really hits, like it has today, I feel like my mind fogs over and my body is laden down with heavy weights. Any kind of meaningful interaction or conversation is difficult, emotions are high if provoked, I lose my appetite and my body closes in on itself, willing the outside world to disappear until the cloud lifts.
But that said, I am a Mama to two gorgeous people and I have a life and responsibilities. Shutting down or closing off isn’t an option and I have had to learn some practical techniques for dealing with depression. Being that so many people suffer with the unpredictability of these storms, I want to share with you a few tried and tested tips for coping when one hits.
Top Tips For Living With Depression
- Stay in bed. Probably not what you thought I’d say but if you do have the option to rely on a family member for just a few hours or even a day then do it. Giving in to the darkness of depression, sleeping and even having a good old cry for just a little while can sometimes give you that bit of space you need. Today I did not have this option so I’ve skipped to step 2.
- Have a hot bath or shower. Wash away a little bit of the blues. The heat, the water, the (hopefully) time alone may just clear a tiny bit of the fuzz.
- Get out in the fresh air. You won’t want to and it’s a direct contradiction to point number one but if staying in bed isn’t an option or you have completed that phase then you need to force yourself out into the fresh air. Sometimes it will clear the cobwebs and sometimes just seeing other people going about their business can kick start you into doing the same thing.
- Stay hydrated. It goes without saying that you will feel worse if you are dehydrated. You will feel more tired, more sluggish and more miserable. Drink water and lots of it.
- Go to your happy place. For me, this is and always has been writing (hence here I am writing this!) Whatever floats your boat, try to force yourself to do a bit of it.
- Step away from social media. We are all addicted to some degree but the fast-paced, intense world of competitive comparisons is not the place you need to be hanging out today.
- Be kind to yourself. Depression goes hand in hand with hating yourself but on these dark days, try to be kind to yourself. Admit you feel like crap, that this is a bad day and take it as easy as possible.
- Talk to the people who you live with. Admit that today is a bad day. Let them know. Spell out what you need to get through the day. Don’t expect your other half to just know you are suffering.
- Medication. If you cannot shake it and you are having way more bad days than good, consider speaking to your GP about medication and alternative therapies. There is no stigma attached. They can and do help people.
I must stress that these are only the tactics that I use to get through a bad day. There is no medical facts of evidence behind them but they may help you a little if, like me you find yourself at the mercy of an internal storm.
Best of luck