So as we all know, I have depression.
Hello, my name is Natalie, and I have depression.
Over the past 20 or so years, I have done serious work on myself and my depression.
From accepting it, understanding it, unlearning/relearning coping skills
to countless medication combinations, therapy, THE WORKS.
Along the way,
I discovered a few of my own ways to make my depression calm the heck down.
So without further ado,
here are my tips for when the depression hits:
Despite the fact that “It’s fine” is my unofficial catch phrase, I have never gotten anywhere acting like I was fine when I was SO not fine. So own it, face it, say it out loud, talk to yourself in the mirror about it, write it down…something. Depression is there whether you want it to be or not, so acknowledging it is a very obvious but very important first step.
- Redirect the Sadness
Watching Grey’s is huge for me and my depression. Instead of wallowing in my own sad life, I wallow in theirs, and dear lord, theirs is horrific. That’s what you gotta do sometimes ok, you gotta take the sadness and throw it at something else. You take it and you throw it and you cry about it, because sometimes, you need to cry about SOMETHING that you can feel, experience and then turn off and walk away from. I cannot walk away from my depression, that jerk follows me everywhere, but I CAN walk away from season 8, episode 24. ::cue Snow Patrol:: If Grey’s doesn’t do it for you, try Beaches, Eternal Sunshine, My Girl, P.S. I Love You, Mona Lisa Smile, This is Us or just text me because I can hook you up with secondhand sadness ALL DAY LONG.
- Take Your Meds (if applicable)
In some of my more depressive states, the hopelessness can sometimes win and I will skip my meds. Because nothing matters right? Everything is shit, everything is doomed, and why even bother, right? WRONG take your meds. I am saying this to you, yes, but I am also screaming it to myself. TAKE YOUR MEDS.
- Confide in Your Friends
It is such a huge deal in your mental health journey to have support in place. Solid ground in the form of a friend. It can help so much to talk to a friend who gets it and if they get it, they can help support, motivate and love you through it. I recently had a talk with Kate about how difficult it has been for me to shower or straighten up my house, how the small things feel so huge these days, and instead of thinking I am gross or lazy, she pushed me. Lovingly, of course. She got me out of my house, she told me it was ok that I wasn’t bright and shiny, and that I was still worth a damn. After my weekend with her, I feel refreshed, loved, and deeply understood. I even showered AND cleaned my house. (see photo for proof) Friends are invaluable. (If you do not have a friend like this, email me. I will be that friend for you. We are in this together.)
- Dance It Out
This one may seem silly or pointless, but it can help, even if just momentarily. Everyone has that one song that when you hear it, you just have to move. Getting up and jumping around to some fun tunes can really lift the fog. It does not matter if you look silly, it does not matter if you dance badly. You gotta do it. Check out the hashtag #takefiveanddance on Instagram for some inspiration and click here for a playlist to inspire you to get your booty in motion!
- Have a Cry
It comes as no surprise I am sure that I advocate for crying. I am nothing if not on brand. Crying is an emotional palate cleanser. A reset button. It can be cathartic and a way to just purge your system of all the negative crap clogging it up. It isn’t always that simple, but sometimes it is and there is no shame in crying. Let it out.
NOT THAT KIND YALL GOOD GRIEF! Ok but for real, according to many sources I found on google… almonds, pecans and walnuts can really help. “Just an ounce a day can help improve both your physical and mental health. These nuts contain calcium, which can help offset hormonal imbalances in women as well as alleviate symptoms of anxiety, depression, irritability and impaired memory.” AW NUTS
- Make Lists
I find that it helps me to have a plan, even if the plan is small, even if I don’t completely stick to it, even if it is scattered …writing things down helps put things into perspective and makes it easier for my depressed brain to manage. Keep your expectations low, cut yourself some slack, and praise yourself for the things you manage to complete. Small steps forward are still steps forward.
- Lean Into It
Hear me out ok? I am not promoting wallowing. Maybe I am? I don’t know but I wear glasses, so I know everything. It is ok to feel sad. Depression is not your fault, it comes out of nowhere, and sometimes, the only way out is through. Lean into the feelings, allow yourself to feel them, give them names “I feel sad, I feel hopeless, I feel unworthy.” When I do this, it can help me to realize how irrational my thoughts are. When I say my negative thoughts out loud, I can immediately counter them with logical thoughts. Sometimes saying some of the thoughts out loud can make them seem so silly. I have done this exercise before and actually ended up laughing about it, calling my brain a jerk, and just moving on. I also like to yell, “I DO NOT HAVE TIME FOR THIS NONSENSE.” Come for the cute art, stay for the incredible advice.
Not everyone is Picasso or Mozart or Ansel Adams or Frida Kahlo, but that does not mean you shouldn’t try! It can really help to just get the bad feelings out in some creative way, and you may even end up with something great! Journaling, doodling, painting, DIYing are all great ways to get your mind off the sadness. Check out my Pinterest board for some craft ideas.
- Brush Your Teeth, Drink Water, Paint your Nails, Take a Nap
Sometimes the small things seem like big things, and consequently, that can make big things seem insurmountable. Let’s take 5 minutes to do something small, something for ourselves, something that is leading us in a more positive direction and then, let’s…
- Celebrate Small Wins
The fact that you are trying is something to be celebrated. Existing is hard, especially when it feels like the weight of the world and all its pressures are crushing you and your mind is a minefield out for blood and no one gets it and you are sinking. Anything you do to help yourself along – big or small – should go without praise. You are doing good, you are doing something, and that is everything.