What to do when you're depressed

I was talking to a friend this week about depression and whether they should go on meds or not.

I am a firm believer in medication for diabetes, heart disease and depression. I once went off my meds and tried to use a psychologist for my growing anxiety. Instead of working through it, I got worse and worse, meanwhile, she kept asking me how I felt.

I felt like killing myself, I told her. And why do you think that is? She would ask.

So back on the meds for me and I haven’t looked back.

But when I was depressed, some of the bullshit advice I got was laughable and in hindsight, dangerous.

“Go for a walk,” a family member would tell me. “Thanks but I haven’t been out of bed for three days, and can barely walk to the bathroom, so a walk if probably out of the question unless it’s off a cliff.” I know exercise is good but if you’re knee deep in the depression pit, you can’t do this. It’s exhausting to even think about.

“It could be worse.” Someone said. “Yes it could be but it’s pretty bad for me right now, so why don’t you fuck off?”

“I know a healer…” Do you? I know a man named God also, who lives in a huge cloud and shits rainbows and sings like Randy Newman.

So here is my list for what to do when you’re depressed:

1) Go to a doctor. Don’t wait. A GP. The emergency department. A psychiatrist. Do not be turned away. If you need an advocate, ask the toughest person you know to go with you and tell them what you need and let them fight for you.

2) If you decide to wait for the decision to see a doctor, give yourself a time limit for feeling better. If you still feel crap by then or even worse, go to the doctor.

3) If you do therapy, then tell the truth. This is your space and nothing will be said outside those walls. Tell the truth. Get some self-awareness and ask why the therapist thinks that is happening in your brain.

4) Avoid triggers. Don’t watch Silver Lining Playbook or One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest while depressed. I watched the entire series of Gilmore Girls while waiting for my Zoloft to kick in. Lorelei and Rory have a special place in my heart forever more.

5) Try and eat something. Even a little something. Think nutrition, not calories. Your brain needs food. If you don’t eat it will start to eat itself. Not good at all.

6) Do what feels right. If you don’t want to go to something don’t. Don’t want to see a certain person or group, don’t. You do not have any obligation to do things to make others lives happier while you’re in the depths of the depths.

7) Meditation. Meditation has got me through some tough times. I tend to like guided meditations such as Sharon Salzburg. She is so lovely and gentle. Her meditation while drinking a cup of tea is gorgeous and so soothing. It’s emotional self-care at it’s best.

8) Try and work out if it’s situational or clinical depression. If it’s situational, then I would suggest that something in your life needs to change. Is it the job? The relationship? The money issues? Changing your life instead of ending it is the goal here.

9) If it’s clinical, then see a doctor. Don’t fuck around with it. Doctor. Stat. Now.

10) Write it down. All of it. You can delete it or burn it afterwards if you’re afraid but the mere act of writing it out means it’s out of you for that moment. Cut it out with your pen or keyboard.

11) Join an online group for support if you can’t leave the house yet. Reading can be helpful but ensure you’re not overthinking it too much. Discuss with your doctor if you’re unsure this is a good idea yet.

12) Tell someone you trust about how you are feeling, and if you don’t have someone, ask your doctor for support and who you can speak to. There are lots of people who can help you through this, services and carers.

13) Don’t trust your dark thoughts when you’re in the bad place. They aren’t helpful or kind and are full of shit.

14) Don’t spend too much time alone with your thoughts if you can help it. Watching mindless TV is good. Listening to nice music helps, as long as the lyrics aren’t too emotional.

And finally, trust that this is just a feeling that will pass. You will be happy again. You will be content again. You will care again. The apathy will pass and you will be part of life again. But changed and for the better. If you can come out of depression with real skills for helping others and sharing your journey back to wellness, then that’s amazing. But sometimes just knowing yourself that bit better, your triggers and what has bought you to your knees is enough to get you on your feet again.

You have my support always and I promise, you will get through this, just get help and don’t try and do it alone if you don’t have to.

Peace.

Kate

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Why Having A Purpose In Life Is Bullshit

I talked to my friend for an hour and a half yesterday. She's a year or so post-cancer treatment and is wondering why the hell she was saddled with really yucky one, which required her to lose her a body part and her hair.

*Spoiler alert: Only one of these came back.

Meanwhile, my dearest friend is actually crying by the river (she's a bit Joni Mitchell but let her be) and wondering why she hasn't got some grand purpose, now that she has been dragged back from the edge of death's public toilet bowl.

After we spoke, I thought about her a lot, because I luff her and she's one of my favourite people in the world, and with her permission, this is what I texted her.

                                                                                ****

1) Purpose is bullshit. What if I told you that your purpose right now is to be here. That’s it. All you have to do is show the fuck up. If you want to paint, paint. If you want to write, write. Bake bread? Do it. No wonder so many people feel like failures. Being told they have to have a "purpose" makes them feel like they haven't hit their KPI's for life and should just shove their head in the oven and be done with it. Put bread in the oven, not your head!™

2) Strive instead for a curiosity driven life. One where you try things, share them with the world or noone. There are no rules. The next thing you do, is to breathe. You have my permission, if you need it, to stop seeking and just be. Take the dance class. Go to the Galapagos Islands. Eat the snail. Learn the language. Join the choir. Pick up the racket. 

3) Not everyone's purpose is their job. Actually, very few people's purpose in life is their job. We put too much pressure on our career to be everything and more. It's actual fuckery, and is causing more and more depression in the world, because people feel shithouse their job isn't making them want to get up and punch the air with their "awesomely, awesome life!".

4) What about pursuing a creative life instead? Why not pursue this as your purpose and your job is just to support that. If you think of your work as just funding your creativity or curiosity, life is somewhat more palatable. Write the poem, or the book, or throw the clay down, or do up the car, or pick up the paintbrush! This is enough of a reason for being on the planet. We need your creative stuff so we don't have to feel so shit about the other stuff.

5)  What I read from your voice when we spoke was the issue of worthiness. Why get cancer, survive, and then have nothing at the end of it all? What was it all for? It was for me. Your husband. The kids. Your family.  Your friends. Your presence in our life is enough of a purpose. That shows us your worth. That isn’t to say that those who die from cancer weren’t worthy enough to stay, they were all worthy but you survived and survival was your purpose for a long time. That's enough.

6) But I am asking you to understand this. 

  • There is no such thing as fair.
  • You are being stronger by being vulnerable and saying you don't know what is next than you are by pretending you have it all sorted. Noone really has it all sorted in their head.
  • Your creativity is a tool for you to express yourself and what you feel. Try everything.
  • Your relationships and the love you give and receive is your true purpose. It's everyone's purpose.

When my father died, the love was enormous. It was like a huge ball of flowers that became alight and then floated off into the ether, showering us with scintilla’s of light and joy and the extreme knowing that this was the meaning of everything.

Shore up the banks of your life with love baby, and the rest will follow.

Say yes to kisses and hugs, and hand-picked bunches of flowers.

Say yes to patting the neighbour's cat on your short walk up the street as you try and get your strength back.

Say yes to cups of tea and watching TV shows about stupid shit that will not make you smarter but will stop you thinking for a while.

Say yes to sunsets and clean sheets and hot showers and love.

Love is truly everything. And you are rich in it. Wealthy.

You're a fucking rockstar, you're just in rehab right now.