Mental illness majorly sucks, you can spend days or weeks at a time laying around feeling terrible and like there’s no way out. Whilst the feeling itself is super hard to shake, there are things that can improve your life- even just a little bit. Here’s a list of some thing that have helped me.
I can usually tell when I’m getting depressed, for a week or so before it fully kicks in I can feel my mood dropping, and do pretty much anything possible to fight it. Needless to say fighting it doesn’t work. But what does work is preparing.
When I’m on my 5th day of laying in bed staring at the wall, the idea of going downstairs to make any sort of food is herculean. Quickest solution? Prepare for it.
If you can feel your depression coming on then start getting stuff you need. Easy meals to cook such as frozen veg, or instant noodles are my go-to. Whilst there are much more complicated ‘depression meals’ anything that takes more than 5 minutes or involves more effort than boiling a kettle it’s off my list.
If you’re already depressed and haven’t prepared then it isn’t the end of the world. Ask someone if they can go out and buy things for you. And if they can’t then you’ll unfortunately have to brave the outside world. It sucks, like really fucking sucks, but there’s also so many days you can go food deprived.
2. Get outside
This is my genuine least favourite thing to do when depressed. But going outside even if it’s just to your garden or for a walk around the block helps. The amount of sunlight I get majorly affects my mood, so after a couple of days being indoors I get into a downward spiral.
If I force myself to go outside, usually on a food trip or just to the corner shop then at least I’m getting some sunlight. (Or moonlight in most cases). If it’s rainy or dreary then vitamin D tablets or capsules will (slightly) help to boost your mood, plus it’s just good to take vitamins anyway.
3. Rate your tasks
I learnt this from a ted talk a couple of years ago. Rate your daily tasks on a scale of one to five, with five being the hardest.
For example: getting out bed is a 2, showering is a 5, eating is a 3, going outside is a 5 etc. Do the easiest tasks first, and only list things that you absolutely have to do. It might take you 45 minutes to get out of bed, but once you’ve done it you’re ready to do a slightly harder task. You might not be able to do all of your tasks, and things that are a 5 will seem impossible at first. Once you’ve managed to get started, before you know it you’ll be almost done with your list.
This is a concept that I used a lot when I was severely depressed a couple of years ago. It really managed to help me get out of bed and eat each day, even if I really didn’t want to. Completing difficult tasks each day also acts as a motivator and a reminder that you can achieve things you set your mind to. Even when you’re depressed.
4. Think of the future
So having the energy for anything other than sleep seems impossible. Feeding yourself or showering seems pointless, because life seems pointless. Here’s the thing: you won’t think that when the depression passes.
When I want to just sleep 24/7 or am particularly hating the concept of existing then I focus on the future. Everything I do is for future-me, because future me does want to exist. Neglecting yourself in the moment just creates future problems to deal with. It can definitely feel like a burden but muddling through and doing things because eventually you’ll feel better can be a motivator.
5. Tell your friends
I never used to like confiding in people. It would make me feel like a burden or that I was somehow ruining their day. But then I realised that I never have a problem with my friends confiding in me; I want to be there to support them and help them however I can. Your friends feel the same way about you too!
Try reaching out to one of your friends even if it’s just for a vent, they probably won’t mind you getting your feelings out. I’ve found that one of the hardest things to do when depressed is socialising in-person, I spend the whole time hating myself for being depressed. As it turns out, that hatred dissipates quite a bit when people actually know that you’re depressed, and not just being blunt or annoyed with them. People care and want to help, you just have to reach out and connect.
I’m not saying to force yourself to go out and hang with people, trust me I know it sucks, just keep in mind that there are people who’re willing to look out for you. Depressed or not.
6. Sleep If You Need To
If you’re exhausted then you’re exhausted, what you can do to feel better is allow your body to sleep. Once you wake up try to avoid feeling bad or punishing yourself for sleeping. Sure your face might feel kinda gross, but that’s not the end of the world. Breaking out of the sleep cycle is a lot easier said than done, so the first step is to stop demonising it.
Another way to look at it is that sleep can be preventative. If you’re feeling like being self-destructive in any way then sleep is a way to deal with that. Rather than resorting to alcohol, self-harm, or some other vice you can JUST SLEEP. When you wake up you’ll be in a different mindset and that urge will most likely have gone.
Don’t get me wrong, this isn’t easy. Oftentimes it involves me literally forcing myself to lie in bed and not move or get up until I’m asleep. Because I know that if I get up then I’ll do something regrettable.
7. Find distractions
Instead of spending all of your time self-loathing or sleeping you can find distractions. TV and film are my go-to for this as they require literally zero effort. You just glue your eyes to the screen and watch.
If you’re feeling a bit more energetic then you could try doing some art, or maybe reading. Art is something I often try when depressed but usually get tired from quite quickly, however if you have the energy for it a creative outlet is a great choice! When I was younger I’d pretty much compulsively read through depression. I distinctly remember at one point going through 10 books in a month and a half. It might not be the best way to deal with your issues, but it helps nonetheless.
I hope these tips gave you some more ideas of how to handle depression. It’s by no means a perfect list but these things have helped me over the years! If you’d like to read about self care and mental health click here.