- Mental Health
Things I Do To Combat Depression
Depression and Me
Ever since my father died when I was 15 I've suffered from severe depression. Though I suppose it's possible that was merely the catalyst for determining it was depression as I've felt depressed all my life. I usually blamed the public schools for that, and I think that's an apt blame, but perhaps if I had been seeing a doctor and getting medicated sooner I wouldn't have had such a hard time. Yes, my first thing I would recommend for depression--even before reading this list--is to consult a doctor and see if they can prescribe you medicine. There are some camps that say depression is all in your head. And it is! It is a chemical imbalance inside your brain that needs to be rectified with modern science and medicine.
I think it's sad that depression has some sort of social stigma attached to it as if people--especially males--are supposed to be stronger and rise above their own mental problems. You don't see this kind of stigma for other diseases, but because depression has no outwardly visible signs those who've never experienced it have this false notion that we're making it up. But of course we know that we're not.
This is my list of things I do on a daily basis (when needed) to combat depression. Most of them, other than the first one of course, are self-explanatory and easy to do in your own home, but I have still found them to be of much use when trying to turn my attitude around and persevere through another day until bedtime.
I hate to begin with this one but I also feel it would be derelict of me not to, since before doing anything it is important to consult a doctor. As for me, I've been on different medicines for anti-anxiety/depression for the last 15 years of my life. It sounds like a long time, especially considering this means I've been taking a pill every day of my life for a decade and a half. But when it's the difference between getting up in the morning or spending all day in bed it really becomes worth the small trouble. I won't spend too much time on this one, but suffice to say if you feel depressed there's no shame in getting help. I'll re-interate this these near the end of the article as well.
#2 Talking to a Friend
I almost don't want to include this one simply because a lot of people with depression feel they have no one they can completely confide in with their problems. With the advent of the internet, however, it makes it a lot easier to find a sympathetic ear to listen to your typed problems. It isn't nearly as good as having a real companion, but when depression strikes it's better to have a faceless friend than no friend at all.
No matter what your interests are there will always be places online where you can meet other people who share them. And from there you can develop lasting friendships and begin opening up with each other! I would suggest finding a MMORPG like World of Warcraft or Ultima Online (my personal favorite), or you could even just log onto Facebook and find an old friend and reconnect with them. The most important part, however, is just the social interaction and knowing that someone, somewhere--even if they are hundreds of miles away--cares about you.
A particularly good website for making friends is REDDIT.com because it allows you to both comment and read other peoples' comments, while also giving you huge options in subreddits (forums) in which you can discuss personal interests with other like-minded people.
#3 Turning on Happy, Loud Music
It's important that the music is both happy and loud because there is quite a lot of music that is loud but so very angry as well. This type of music will definitely not serve to help your depression ease. I know it's very, very tempting to put on some sad Yiruma-esque music and fade away into self-loathing and insecurity. But it's important to put on some happy, peppy music even if you don't feel at all that way because it will change your attitude.
Some songs I particularly like to turn to when depressed are: Hanson's MMMBop, The B-52's Love Shack, and The Rocket Summer's Cross My Heart. What each of these songs have in common is that they are loud, kind of silly, and incredibly catchy--making it very easy to start singing along with them yourself. This gives me an idea for another article devoted to a playlist for combating depression--so look for that soon!
#4 Getting Out
This one is definitely a lot tougher when you don't have much family or friends, something that people with depression seem to usually lack anyhow. I almost hesitate to include it except that if you can get out into the world it will do wonders for your outlook and replenish your body in ways that even the strongest medicine cannot. Even just walking to the nearest store and spending 20 minutes perusing the aisles as you semi-interact with strangers is a good way to recharge your batteries. It's important both to get your heart pumping and muscles moving, and because, despite how fearful a lot of us are of the world and people--we still crave human contact.
Even after just being cooped up in my apartment for a mere two days causes me to feel isolated and alone, which severely deepens my depression. As I mentioned, simply walking to the store and getting some fresh air is a good idea. Or you can go to the library and walk around for an hour trying to find the perfect book to read. Or if you're religious try going to church every week--I have really found going to church to be amazing as it gives me something to look forward to and people to look forward to being with.
#5 Write a To-Do List
This is probably my favorite item on this list because I've found it to also be the most effective in combating depression. It seems self-explanatory but I've spoken with many friends who are overcome with life who haven't even taken the time to just sit down and write out all their problems. There's something cathartic about even simply just writing them out--getting them out of yourself--and onto a clean piece of paper where they can be viewed objectively. And I believe the brain definitely releases pleasant chemicals whenever I cross off a successfully completed item from my list.
It's easy to feel like you're suffocating from all the things you have to do and worry about as they bounce around in your head. So just write them down!
My To-Do List
1) Clean the bathroom
2) Find a job
3) Do the laundry
4) Sell French Horn on eBay
In reality, of course, my to-do list is a bit longer than this and includes items that are more personal in nature. But as an example it just feels good to list everything, see it before my eyes, and know that I can slowly chip away at each item one-by-one in my own time. And then when the list is finally all crossed out my life will be better!!
#6 Fight the Urge to Take a Nap
This isn't exactly something to do but rather something to try hard to avoid doing. If there's one thing depressed people like me are good at, it's getting plenty of rest. And since depression is this magical time machine that lets our bodies sleep and never feel rested we can sleep the entire day away. In an effort at full disclosure, during the middle of writing this article I took an unneeded nap myself just to pass the time so I know very well about depression and the detrimental effects of napping. If you sleep during the day you're up at night and then your entire sleep cycle eventually gets ruined to the point that you're going to sleep at 5 am and waking up at some awful time in the afternoon.
This is where I'm supposed to tell you how to prevent napping--but it is something that has alluded me as well. I try watching movies, or funny television shows I enjoy, or immersing myself in a hobby, or getting caught up with writing an article. But it's tough because the depression will come and it will drag you down into lethargy regardless of how much you fight it. All I can say is to try to fight it as hard as you can but don't feel too bad when can't fight anymore.
#7 Drink Four Glasses of Water
This final bullet point is probably the silliest-sounding one, but it's still one I stand by as someone who suffers from depression. I believe it was my grandmother who told me about this magical cure for the blues. She told me that if you feel depressed or lethargic it could just be a sign that your body isn't getting enough water. I'm not a doctor, obviously, so I can't really explain the science behind it. But your body needs--craves--water and if you don't get enough it can start malfunctioning pretty quickly.
I'm not saying to just pour yourself four glasses of water and drink them in 20 minutes--that might be dangerous or just make you go to the bathroom a lot. But just keep it by your desk and sip it and perhaps you'll begin to perk up. Also, my grandmother claims she heard about it first from Oprah so that might make you more (or less) inclined to believe it!
It's Not Your Fault
I am reminded of the scene in Good Will Hunting where Robin William's character has to constantly reassure Matt Damon that he isn't responsible for a past he couldn't control. And it's very much true with depression as well. No one chooses to be depressed, and yet much of the world thinks we can just 'choose' to stop being depressed. A few years ago my best friend (at the time), after seeing how depressed I had been, looks me blankly and says: 'Why don't you just stop being depressed?' It was then that I realized that the world just doesn't understand at all what we're going through. If my best friend can look at me, see me suffering, and tell me to basically just suck it up, then I knew we had a long way to go before people could begin to acknowledge the severity of depression.
But it isn't your fault. And if you need medicine--please, please get it. It doesn't make you weaker. If anything, asking for help makes you a stronger person. In a depressed, lethargic stupor is no way to go through life, especially when you don't have to. If you have any comments please write them below. Thank you!