I’ve been wanting to make this post for a while now, and I’ve decided now is the time. I’m relatively relaxed. Candles are lit, my daughter is fast asleep after spending the day with her father, and I have a glass of wine in my hand to enjoy it rather than take the edge away whilst I watch orange is the new black.
But it’s hard to know what to say. There is honestly so much to say. I wanted to make a post on depression, and offer hope to those who really feel like there is no way out. I’ve felt that way, oh god haven’t I. I’ve been there so many times. But I have learnt some coping mechanisms that I want to share.
These past few weeks of my life.. no, months, even years I guess, have been testing. They’d be testing for somebody who hasn’t suffered from depression and anxiety from the age of.. what 12, 13?
This past year I’ve been in hospital after nearly losing my life. No, seriously. Ive said goodbye to a pregnancy, I’ve cut off a parent, cut off a ‘best friend’, suffered betrayal, problems with money… the list goes ON and ON.
But you know what I’ve realised? Problems often come like snowballs. You know why? Because I give up on myself. I don’t fight. People usually told me whilst I was suffering severely to change my perspective, look on the bright side, stop wallowing and I thought they were completely stupid. I really did. But as a parent to a beautiful little girl, who’s been let down so much by mental health services, I have had no choice but to pick myself up off the ground.
If somebody told me though then that I’d be sat here under my own (rented) roof with my own pet cat snuggled up next to me, I would have thought they were crazy. I always imagined myself at this age in hospital, or dead. And I am so thankful for that downward spiral. I was SO desperate to be loved that I searched high and low for somebody to love me. And that’s how my gorgeous daughter was made.
But now I have somebody to be strong for. I have no choice but to try. I have to. Self destructive behaviour is a thing of the past. Don’t get me wrong- there are times when I want to throw myself off a cliff, scream, drink until I end up in hospital again. But I have to manage. I have to and I want to. I WANT to get better now. I want to be somebody for my little girl. And I know things are never bad forever. Things improve. Why would I want to miss out on that?
I know it’s hard when you’re so low, especially if it’s been so long. You walllow and aren’t even sure if you want to get better and you’re scared of being happy. You don’t need to be. If you’re at rock bottom, things will not be this bad forever. And if you suffer from depression, you are so much more than your mental illness. Depression wraps you in a bear hug, tight until you can’t breathe. Sometimes it may never even go away. I know it’s horrible and hard. But here are things, and words, that help me..
- A to-do list– this can either be a list of things to do in general, if you’re finding it hard to take things one step at a time, or a list of things to improve your wellbeing. Here is my list. And if you manage things, reward yourself! After just 3 days, I’m almost doing these things naturally now.
- You may have noticed the post it notes- mantras and blessings. I have written down a list of mantras to repeat to myself every morning and night and pinned them on my fridge where I can see them, also adding a few blessings. Reading them out loud and repeating them really does sink in, even if you don’t believe it, and soon you do believe it. Fake it till you make it.
- Be grateful- even if you’re clutching at straws, look at what you have. Not what you don’t have. When you’re down, or even when you’re not down, it’s natural to think negatively. How can we not when so much happens in the world that’s, well, not good? But honestly, if you learn to appreciate what you have, your perspective alters and the world feels so much more beautiful and feeling thankful makes you feel so whole. Everyday I read my gratefulness list, and then read it out loud back to myself and feel it. Really feel it. It takes practice, but soon you’ll know what I mean. Here’s the first page of my list. You can tell by the blue writing I’m clutching at straws, I wasn’t feeling too good that day. But I still found things to be grateful for.
- Remember you are NOT to blame- you may be feeling the way you are because of the way you’ve been treated. Maybe you’ve been cheated on and you don’t feel good enough, lie awake wondering what she has you don’t? I’ve been there. Maybe you’ve been bullied and wonder why you aren’t different, or you’ve been exploited, stolen from, beaten up, just generally hurt. But anybody who can treat you bad- the problem lies with them, not you. Healthy humans don’t go around destroying people. There is no reason to treat another human being bad, unless you are a really bad person. And if those people treat you in such a horrible way, they don’t deserve to be in your life. You deserve to be around people who love you for who you are, and anyone who doesn’t accept you…well it’s a blessing to lose them!
- ‘Life is about learning to dance in the rain‘- corny as fuck right? But actually true! If you look into the cliches a lot of them actually have meaning in them. We’ve all been through pain, some worse than others, but I’ve learnt if you chanel that pain, see what positive you can get out of it, you will come out the other side a stronger person. Again even if you are clutching at straws, it doesn’t matter and you’ll learn. This morning I was feeling terrible. I had an argument with my daughters dad and had a cold sore (I am very self conscious!) and going into the local shop I accidentally bumped into somebody and apologised and I smiled at them and they smiled back. That was my first smile of the day and I needed it (apart from that of my daughter, but sometimes I need adult contact) and honestly, I felt so much better seeing that smile and I was honestly grateful for crashing into the person!
- Fuck things you need to do, do what you WANT to do- our daily list of things to do as adults is endless and a lot of the time it can get overwhelming even if you are feeling good. But the most important thing when you’re going through a rough time is to take time for yourself, and look after yourself. I don’t know about you but when I’m in a state I find it hard enough to eat, let alone clean my house. And then I feel bad for not doing it. But honestly? Some things are more important. Let those plates sit in the sink for a day or two. Let that carpet go unhoovered. When possible, within reason, give yourself time and know your self care is the absolute most important thing.
- Look inside yourself– when you feel like things are getting on top of you, find a quiet private space and take deep breaths. Shut your eyes, and allow the thoughts to come. Often we hear these thoughts everyday like background noise, but taking time out to listen to these thoughts often helps to clear our minds and clarify what we truly want and feel. It’s a mindfulness technique. It feels so good to just let them happen.
- Seek support– you may feel as though you have nobody, as though you’ve pushed everyone away. I know I do. I find it difficult to form and keep relationships with people as I often want to be alone or talk to nobody. But support is important. Keeping things bottled up will eat away at you. There is absolutely no shame in needing help. From a shoulder to cry on to somebody to just help you with your daily chores or your children or just sit with you. If anyone asks what they can do, don’t be ashamed to ask! If you feel as though you have nobody to talk to, and you need somebody urgently, there are a lot of helplines that can support you. I even use samaritans email service as I find it hard to talk on the phone! I will list those that have helped me all at the end. They are 24 hour services. I’ve also found Facebook groups and forums to be extremely supportive!
- But do not rely on anybody but yourself– YOU are the key to getting better. You cannot blame your friends for not supporting you enough. You cannot blame the system for failing you. You cannot blame the people who led you down this path. People let you down, but it is not up to them to make you better. Truth of the matter is anybody can let you down at anytime. I’ve learnt that the hard way. Getting better starts with you and do not put all your faith in other people to get you there. You will not get anywhere if you do that.
- Fake it till you make it– smile, even if you feel like crying. Walk tall and confident even if you feel anxious and insecure. Use positive words, even though you may feel anything but positive. ‘I can’ not ‘I can’t’. I ‘will’ not I ‘want to’. Imagine the words you speak are written all over your t-shirt, what would people think of you? Honestly, think tall, think strong, and you’ll BE STRONG.
- Be kind– not only does it make you feel good to make somebody else feel good, but why not spread a bit of happiness around what can be a pretty miserable place? Try and do one kind thing or something for someone else everyday. As small or big as you like. Spread the joy! Put change in a charity box, share a smile, compliment somebody. You may just make their day- you never know what somebody else is going through
- Write it down– I don’t know about you but some of the thoughts that pop into my head are NOT shareable. At the end of each day, I make sure I write down exactly how I’m feeling and why I’m feeling that way. There’s something so therapeutic about airing my thoughts out onto paper. I often read everything back too, assess what made me feel that way and whether I still feel that way.
I know this won’t work for everybody. There are some things that positivity cannot cure for me. Some of the things we have to go through are awful. And at the end of the day, depression is an actual illness and a hormone imbalance in the brain. But the human spirit can be so strong if you allow it to be, and it is meant to be. You are more than the strife in your life and can achieve anything you put your mind to. With these tips, I hope I’ve helped you as much as I want to help myself. Even I hope I can take my own advice.
If you’re feeling at loss, and need help, PLEASE contact the following helplines and services. If you’re in urgent need go to A&E! Remember. You are suffering from an illness.
Look after yourselves and there is always somebody who wants to listen. Including me.
Samaritans– ring 116 123. This is a helpline for any mental illness or honestly just needing somebody to speak to. Their email is firstname.lastname@example.org
The sanctuary– this service offers emergency home visits if you need somebody.
Nhs helpline– if you really feel unsafe and need professional help, please ring 111!