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.