Depression can be a right pain in the arse. Trust me on that. Some days you question whether there's anything wrong with you at all, other days, even the simplest of things can seem impossible. You don't want to do anything, you don't want to be with anyone and all those things you love need to be just sacked off and given up on. F**k 'em all!
Some days, running Men Tell Health is all I want to do, other days I wake up and all I want to do is delete the website and give up on it completely. It all just feels too much for me. I can't do it. If you're reading this, it won't be much of a stretch to realise I haven't done that yet. Unless Google cached it, then you're reading in some way I don't even fully understand.
Depression makes you think things you don't believe, although it feels like it's exactly what you want at the time. It can make you do things you don't really want to, and say things you don't mean. The thing is, time passes and so do the depressive episodes. One day you think you can jump tall buildings in a single bound, other days you can't get out of bed. Understanding depression is also understanding that neither of these things are true. The truth lies somewhere in between.
When I was setting up our SpeakEasy, ReBoot and PopStart groups, I was also battling one of the worse depressive episodes I'd had for a while. I know I put too much pressure on myself and I also know I'm not very good at delegating. Two factors that don't help. Also, my wife and I were getting into The Walking Dead (better late than never I know) which I don't think helped. Man, some of those episodes are grim! All of those things combined took their toll and I suffered.
I've become very good at looking OK. I relied on it for years, wearing the mask of 'I'm Fine Thanks' but that's not the way to go either. You need some tips, tricks, life-hacks to get you through the days when you're struggling.
That brilliant segue leads me on to another of our Top 10 lists. Ten ways to get you through the day when you're depressed. So, without further ado....
1. Get Dressed!
If you wake up and you can already tell it's going to be one of those days, then the easy option, in fact the ONLY option, you will feel like doing is staying in your pit. Don't do then. Get up.
It might be a struggle and sometimes even that simple act can take Herculean effort, but you need to get up. Once you're up, there will be choices to make; what clothes to wear, where's the other sock?, how many days have I worn these boxer shorts? Decisions, decisions.
If there are too many to answer, trying getting everything ready the day before. That way, when you do get up there are no choices to make, all your clothes are ready to jump into. If you don't have to go to work, then pick your favourite comfy clothes to jump into, whether that's lounge pants, shorts, leather G-string or PJs (or even a onesie, if that's how you roll). Things you know you can slob about in.
2. Get Fed!
So now you're up, it's time for something to eat and drink. You might not feel like it, but good nutrition promotes a good mood and that's what we want.
When you're down, you may not have the energy or inclination to prepare any food, so, like the last point, the key is in the preparation. Cooking in larger batches is a good idea, so you'll have stuff on hand in the fridge or freezer that can easily be cooked. If that's not an option, then have things in that can easily be made. Things like soup, noodles, cereal bars are great to have in (although not always for breakfast).
You need to drink too of course. Water and herbal teas are going to help you the most when you're feel unwell. To ensure you drink enough and keep hydrated, try carrying a 2 litre bottle of water around with you which, once you've drank it all, will mean you've had your daily allowance.
3. Get Clean!
You're up, you're fed and you're watered, now what? What's that smell? I hate to say it, but it might be you!
Personal care is one of those things that, when you feel good, goes without saying, but when things are tough, it can go right out the window. Either way, it's still an important part of being you.
If you're a shower person, but don't feel like having one, try just turning the shower on and standing underneath it. It takes less effort but still gets you clean. You could, of course, get into the habit of showering the night before so you don't worry about it on a morning when you're not in 'the zone'. If all else fails, make wet wipes you new emergency go-to source of hygiene. You can even get towel size ones now!
4. Get Out!
As we've said, when you're feeling low, all you will want to do is curl up under the duvet and stay there like some sort of bed-ridden hermit. Don't do that. Even if every part of your body is screaming 'stay put', get your ass out of the house.
We're not suggesting you go out all day, although you can, but even a short walk into town, a walk to the local newsagent or the coffee shop (what is this, Friends?) can lift your mood. If all else fails (or you live a gazillion miles from anywhere), go sit in the garden for a bit and get some air. If it's pissing down, maybe take an umbrella.
Any exercise will help make you feel better and if the sun's out, soak in that Vitamin D goodness.
5. Get Shit Done!
Now you're ready(ish) to tackle the day, what are you going to do with it? Good question. There's no denying that depression can impact on your memory, levels of concentration and your ability to process even the simplest of info. So how can you get around that?
If you know there are things you need to do, write a list. Don't be afraid to include the things we've already talked about (get out of bed, eat breakfast, shower, etc). Each one you achieve is a little win for you! You can, of course, add all the other grown-up stuff like go to work, pay bills, grocery list. This way you don't have to stress yourself trying to worry about all those things you might have forgotten to do.
If you're on meds, then a pill box is a great (and simple) way of sorting them out and taking them at the time you need to take them.
6. Get Social
There's no denying it, sooner or later you're going to have to deal with other people. I know, some of them are arseholes, but hey, what can you do. Maybe try and avoid those ones, but most people are ok.
We might want to isolate ourselves when we feel low, but that's not going to help. We know that, so let's get on with it shall we?
It's fair enough to want to distance yourself a little, and that's ok, but don't cut yourself off completely. We all need other people and those relationships need nurturing. Sure avoid the arseholes, hell that might be a good idea all of the time, but don't hide away from those who do care about you.
Your family and friends will understand and if they don't, take time to try and explain it to them. Reach out to those people you trust; your siblings, your Doctor even, just a quick chat on the phone can make the world of difference.
7. Get Some Exercise!
Park Life! Sorry, things became a bit of a blur there! ;-) Jokes too! Wow.
Self care is all about looking after yourself, and nothing does that better than a bit of sweating. You don't need to be an athlete to exercise; a cheeky little walk, a gentle jog or a ride on your bike, anything that's going to get the blood pumping and the sweat...errrr..... sweating will make you feel better.
Try and make exercise part of your day. Just 30 minutes a few times a week will make all the difference to how you feel. Even if you don't want to leave the house, YouTube has all sorts of shit, but somewhere within all their millions of crazy videos are some really good fitness ones. Try them out in the comfort of your own home. Do it naked if you want. Go crazy! Just do it! (Sorry Nike, please don't sue).
8. Get More Stuff Done!
There will be more things you need to do, just when you don't feel like doing them. We talked a little about the basics, but let's expand on that a little.
Whether it's stuff you need to do for work, for friends, for family or just for yourself. You can make yourself a To-Do list to help keep everything organised, but sometimes, if there's too many things on it, it can look a little over-whelming and you end up doing none of them.
You could flip it, and create a Done list, mark off the things you have achieved as you go through the day; whether that's household chores, checking in with family or friends or just doing those things we mentioned in section (goes to check number)..... 5!
For those things that need to be done, consider breaking them down into smaller chunks so they're more manageable. You could break them down into smaller jobs, but also break them down into times. Depending on what it is, you could do the job for 15 or 20 minutes, then stop for a bit before continuing. This works for jobs or even just hobbies that you enjoy.
If you've got a list, do the simple, quick and easiest jobs first. Build a little momentum as you tackle the day. This will make you feel better as each one get's ticked off. You can also reward yourself with a little treat when you achieve something, even if it's just a cuppa.
As we said, bad days pass in the same way that good days do. When you are feeling ready to take on the world, do as much as possible so you're not confronted with shitloads of stuff when you're not feeling so well. You can even delegate some jobs to yourself, but only do them when you're feeling better.
9. Get Some Sleep.
Depression and sleep are a strange pair. Depression can make sleeping harder (at least GETTING to sleep), but it can also mean all you want to do is stay in bed all day.
Getting a good night's sleep is vital to positive mental (and physical) wellbeing, so it's important to give yourself the best chance of a good night's sleep at the end of the day. You can do this by:
- Turning off your laptop, tablet and / or smartphone at least an hour before your bedtime.
- Have a warm drink before bed, maybe avoid coffee, but things like Horlicks, Ovaltine or just warm milk can help relax you.
- When you are in bed, try reading rather than watching TV.
- Mindful colouring books are all the rage so try one of those.
Try and get yourself into a bedtime routine so you're body and brain learn that it's time to chill out and get some sleep.
10. Get Used To It (But Not Too Much)
We said it at the beginning and we're saying it at the end, depression can be a pain in the arse, but you know what, you didn't choose it, you didn't bring it on yourself and sometimes, there's nothing you can do about it. It's an illness you've got, so, for now at least, accept it. It won't always be there, but don't beat yourself up over it.
Accepting that you have this illness can actual help you. Rather than fighting your own head over it, just live with it, but find ways to live with it on your terms. All of the things we've talked about will help that. You control it, not the other way around, although it might not feel like it.
If you want to cry, cry. If you want to vent, vent. If you want to scream, then scream. It's ok. Fighting depression can be absolutely exhausting.
When you have bad days, just go with them, but don't let them take over your life. Little steps to recovery will lead to big improvements over time.
We hope you've found at least one of these things useful, but these are just our suggestions. You may well have your own, which is the perfect opportunity to ask you to leave any you have in the comments section below. What works for you now or in the past? Don't be shy!