I don’t like to always use the word ‘depressed’. You can’t address and support all the variations of what people might be experiencing. However, I do know what it’s like to just feel like crap and I do know that this could be the start of something worse if you don’t nip it in the bud, so here are my 5 tips to help you shine again when you’re just feeling shit.
1. Talk to a Friend
When I am at my lowest I want to close the door on the world and often I do. I go AWOL, make excuses to cancel social commitments, stop Facebooking my life, and do a quick drop-and-go on the school run to avoid the mum chatter.
I hibernate and internalise my world. It’s the most depressing and destructive place to be and it’s bloody hard to break out.
The other extreme can be just as damaging.
I’ve gone through periods in my life where ALL I do is talk about a major current life problem, cry, and talk some more, cry some more. To the same people. Over and over.
I had a very good friend tell me one day that I had to focus on other things and stop the self-pity. Harsh at the time, but she was right.
So do talk to someone if you’re having a shit day or week, but don’t let your situation become your only focus.
You need to want to feel better and you can – but only if you are willing to let other thoughts and positive energy into your mind and body.
Sometimes just talking about it can help you do that.
Often I find it difficult to verbalise how I’m feeling, especially with those closest to me, so I turn to email or text.
It’s a really good way to let your loved one know what’s going on without the fear of your emotions completely taking over.
And for the recipient, it can give them time to think about what you need and the best words and way to respond.
If you’ve never shared your true and total feelings with your partner or loved one – give it a try. They may have no idea what’s going on and just want to help you.
2. Talk to a Professional
Even a best friend can only do so much. If you feel you really are spiralling into a depth that worries you and you can’t get out, don’t ignore the signs. Get help.
There are so many avenues open to you, here are just a few:
Go and see your doctor and tell them what’s happening. They are human and they don’t mind you bursting into tears. It’s a great first step to get help.
In the UK call 116 123 or Google for your own local number. They will listen to you and explore your thoughts and feelings. Every volunteer is trained to give you details of other organisations that can help with your problem.
Therapy and counselling
I’ve mentioned before that depression comes in different disguises and there are just as many different ways to treat depression.
Antidepressants can help with chemical imbalances, therapy will look deeper into the issues as to why you are feeling so miserable.
After being on and off anti-depressants for over 10 years, a very sympathetic GP suggested I explore longer-term therapy.
I had dabbled in a bit of CBT (Cognitive Behaviour Therapy) and seen a psychiatrist after my PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder).
Now I was a mum who didn’t want to screw her kid up. It was time to delve deeper into understanding my unhappiness.
Therapists specialise in different areas.
In the UK, the Counselling Directory is an easy and comprehensive search tool to find the right support for you.
Contact at least 4 or 5 therapists and ask for a free initial phone consultation. Then go and see a couple in person – even if you have to pay a ‘one-off’ to do so – before you make your decision.
This may seem tedious but it’s so worth taking the time to find the right therapist for you.
And don’t worry about hurting anyone’s feelings. Therapists themselves will tell you how important it is to find the right person and they understand when you choose someone just because you followed your gut or it felt right.
Things to consider when you go and ‘trial’ a therapist: Is the location easy to get to/park? What’s the room/office like? How does the therapist make you feel? Did you feel safe and willing to open up to them?
I felt very comfortable with two of the therapists I trialled, but they saw me in a clinical cold room, white walls and no windows.
For me, the thought of sitting there every week made me shudder and hyperventilate.
I chose a therapist who ‘got me’ but who also had a lovely, bright, glass-fronted office in the back of her garden. It just felt right.
Get free help
If you live in the UK the NHS offers you free psychological therapies. You can either get a referral from your GP or go directly to the psychological therapies service in your area.
3. Go outside
As stupid as it sounds going outside and getting some fresh air and sunshine (ok maybe not the latter if you live in the UK in winter) can make the world of difference.
Just breathing in the smell of the flowers and plants can help relieve stress and anxiety.
Why do you think people suffer from SAD (seasonal affective disorder) in the UK and can’t wait to jet set off for some ‘much-needed sun’?
The chemical Serotonin plays an important part in mental health disorders including depression, anxiety, OCD and PTSD. You can get your serotonin top-ups for free just by getting out during the day. I know it’s hard but fight those ‘winter blues’ and get outside.
Let the sun and fresh air heal you for free.
Yeah, I use to hate this one too. Tell me to go for a jog when I’m feeling depressed you’re likely to get a punch in the face.
Exercise and I have endured a love-hate relationship for years. I still go through fads but I do know without a doubt that it ALWAYS improves my mood when I force myself to shake the fat.
I no longer set myself ridiculous targets ‘I’ve got to do a full 10k run or what’s the point? What the hell was I thinking? Anything is better than nothing and any exercise is better than none.
So just try something.
Go for a brisk 10-minute walk. Try Squash. Go for a swim. Zumba. Dance with your kids.
Don’t put it off if you haven’t done anything for years, just start small and see where it goes.
I finally get Nike’s ‘Just Do It’ slogan!
5. Tell that voice in your head to shut the F up
I have had a few epiphanies in my life and one was reading ‘The Untethered Soul’ by Michael Singer.
He talks about the ‘uninvited roommate’ in your head who likes to remind you how pathetic you are and how you would fail if you try something new.
This is the voice that holds you back by saying you couldn’t possibly change your life because you are old/lazy/scared/insert your word here and pretty much stops you from doing anything different’ in your life.
It is also the same voice that talks you out of going to your weekly exercise class when you wake up feeling you just can’t be bothered.
So Michael Singer makes a very good point in his book.
Imagine you were sitting down chatting to a friend about your desire to get back to work, change your career, go back to study, quit the booze, try to get fit, be happy and they answered:
What’s the point?
You’ll just fail.
You can’t do that!
You’re not smart enough.
That’s a stupid idea.
You’ll make a fool of yourself.
You get the drift.
How long would you stay there chatting with this person?
Would you want to spend much time with this so-called friend?
So why do we let the roommate in our heads tell us this on a daily basis?
Once I read about this roommate phenomenon I really became aware of just how much credence I was giving this voice. And I have done my whole life.
My default response to anything I wanted to try or do out of my comfort zone, was to let the roommate talk me out of it.
So if you have an annoying overpowering roommate like mine, do me a favour? Next time it speaks, imagine it’s a person sitting next to you saying whatever it’s saying. Then get up and walk away. Smack it in the face first if you want to.
Try it. It really works.
Just stop listening.
I’m still new at this ‘F off roommate’ concept but each day I surprise myself by what I just get on with and ‘do’ by ignoring the inner voice.
Today it was pilates and writing this blog.
I’d love to hear how you go with these 5 tips. Please share and comment.
Let’s get through the shit together.