Morning, folks! 🙂 Well, we’re finally at the last day of the week, such a fun day that it’s practically the weekend anyway! On Fridays, we’re going to have ‘Focus Fridays’. These are going to be my only blog posts about things that are not book-related. Today I’m ‘focussing’ (see what I did there! LOL) on depression.
I don’t think I’m the only writer I know who has this horrible illness either – and it is an illness. Depression is not the same as feeling ‘a bit out of sorts’, or ‘a bit down in the dumps’. Depression can be debilitating, and you feel like you need to retreat into the safety of your own world, as if ignoring all the stresses of life will make them hold off for a while. I never understood what ‘feeling nothing’, and ‘having an empty mind’ truly meant until my first bout with it. But everyone is different. Some people with depression may feel incredibly unhappy, others will feel completely numb. It can be tricky for people around the person too, as depression makes you snappy and annoyed with everything – it’s not us at all, it’s simply that everything seems to have a negative side, with no positive side.
And it can be difficult when well-meaning people around you try to make you feel better as well – not that it’s wrong at all! We know it means that you care, but sometimes what seems the best way of dealing with it can be the worst. Don’t try to force someone with depression talk about it, and don’t do that thing of flinging of flinging the curtains wide to the sunshine either! 🙂 Sometimes we really do need to be alone. Depression is very personal, and sometimes we need to sit and work things out in our heads – it really depends on the person. Instead, just let them know you’re there when you need to find them, and don’t make them feel neglected. Remember, someone with depression is already at their lowest, so the last thing they need is reminding just how ‘lazy’ or ‘silly’ they’re being. I have in the past being accused of just moping around and not doing anything constructive. When you already feel like a failure, despite whatever is going on in your life, this only serves to make you feel worse. So remind them you’re there, that you care about them, and remember to make them feel as though you’re not going to just get exasperated and annoyed when they don’t come around straight away. It can be a long process to push off a bout of depression.
Obviously, if you think someone is so depressed that they might do harm to themselves or others, it’s a little more serious. Make sure to still let them know you’re there. Don’t dismiss or trivialize any thoughts of suicide or self-harming they may have, as this can minimize the person’s pain and shut out any communication whatsoever. Listen to what they have to say, and be genuine. Eliminate any access they may have to dangerous items, if it’s truly serious – so any knives, razors, etc. – take them out of reach, out of the house, if necessary. Give them hope, let them know that they’re not the only one who has felt like this, and that others have gone on after these thoughts to have fulfilling, happy lives. If it is a real emergency, ring your emergency services straight away, whether that be 911, 999, or whatever your country has.
I’ve also got some helplines at the bottom of this post, so if you or anyone you know would like to talk to someone about feelings of depression, self-harming, or suicide, go ahead and talk to someone. You’re not alone, and your feelings won’t be blind-sided.
Now, onto the happier part of my post. 🙂 Last night, I felt the lowest I have in a long time. I hadn’t realised I’ve been going through another bout of depression until last night, and it hit me, making me feel like I just wanted to crawl into a ball and disappear. But, I know this doesn’t help me, from past experience. And while what I did may not be the same as what you yourself need (remember, it’s all personal), it may help in some small way. 🙂 So what did I do?
Step 1. Get YouTube going.
The first thing I did, was listen to a piece of music that never fails to boost me up again. Music is an incredibly useful tool with depression, as the right music can lift something inside you and make you feel a little bit brighter. It’s different for everyone, but for me, it’s Jim Noir’s ‘My Patch’. I love the funky, up-beat music, and the words are good too. ‘If you ever step on my patch, I’ll bring you down, I’ll bring you doooown’. It may not sound like the most likely lyrics, but in my mind, it goes something like this. (Blame it on being a writer). Depression is like those games where you used to have to hit down moles, or whatever they were. And (you can blame Little Big Planet for this imagery too) depression is almost like moles popping up in my garden. So every time the lyrics merrily sing out, ‘I’ll bring you down!’, I imagine banging it on the head with a large mallet – I’m basically telling the depression to back off, and it’s to an awesome tune. Here’s the music for you to listen to yourself. 🙂
Step 2. Decide what you desperately need to get done that day, scrap the rest.
It can be tricky to juggle depression and all the everyday things we need to do, especially if you feel bosses/colleagues/family are not as understanding of it as you would like. BUT, you should not allowed yourself to get stressed. Decide what you really need to do (I mean REALLY need to do. Can it wait? Chances are most things can, at least for a few days. Most people ARE understanding when it comes to someone being ill.), and for everything else, let people know that it will take a while. Be honest, no matter how difficult it is, about why you have to leave it for a few days. The large majority of people are understanding about something that isn’t urgent, so leave it until you feel stronger in yourself. Take the things you really need to do, and schedule them into your day, leaving plenty of breaks in between. Even if your break is just going for a walk, taking a five-minute snack break, or running to the loo for some peace and quiet if you’re in an office, anything can help you deal with the day as it goes on. Make sure these tasks are set within a normal day of work, and don’t allow any overtime for extra work – don’t argue with me! This is part of what isn’t helping, so just for today, you can chill out about it. Dr. Miranda says so. 😉
Also, if you’re like me, and have to use the internet for any of your work, try to use it as little as possible. Try not to go on Facebook, and Twitter (If you need to put in an appearance, limit yourself to a set time, and log off when it’s up), instead concentrating on what needs doing that day. The less you’re putting things off and getting on with them, the quicker they’re done, and the less stressed you will feel.
Step 3. Remember what you enjoy doing.
Preferably, remember what you enjoy doing that is as far removed from the stressful activities as possible. For example, today I’m going to bake cakes. 🙂 Absolutely nothing to do with writing or publishing at all (my day job). I’m also (secret confession time here) a bit of a gamer. I know, I’m a little geeky. LOL 😀 So maybe I’ll blow the dust off my PS3 and have a bit of escapism. Remember all the things you enjoy when you’re not working, the things that are an escape. That might be jogging, going for a walk, baking, singing, or even just snuggling on the sofa and watching a movie. Whatever it is, ENJOY it. I’m officially giving you a special ticket for today. It’s a ticket that says you are allowed to forget all about anything stressful, so once you’ve finished all your work, you can chill out and enjoy your day. I’ve even popped a print-out label for this below (don’t judge me, I love Photoshop 😛 ), so you can print it off, and stick it wherever you have to. Heck, use these if you just want a bit of peace from the rest of the household. 😉 Today is your chill-out day, so do whatever you know makes you feel better. I know I need baking, gaming, and fresh air, and for you it’s something different. Enjoy it. 😉
Step 4. Don’t repeat yesterday. Repeat TODAY.
This is the most important step. You’ve had the best chill-out day ever, and now tomorrow is looming. NO. It’s not ‘looming’. Tomorrow is another day of good stuff. Go on, say it out loud. GOOD. STUFF. All day. It’s important not to go backwards, but to go forwards. Use your scheduling technique for work every day. Sift out the important stuff, schedule it, come back to the other things tomorrow. Make sure you stick to deadlines so you don’t get stressed. Give yourself enough time to do these things, and remember to give yourself plenty of breaks when you start to feel the Stress Gremlin hopping on your back again. If you feel your symptoms making a come-back, whack on your ‘happy song’ and listen to it, even if you have to put headphones in. Recognise your symptoms and nip them in the bud, changing it for something you know will make you feel better. Give yourself time every day to truly relax and do something you enjoy, that has nothing to do with whatever makes you more depressed. Make sure you get a good night’s sleep. Lots of people forget this step, but make sure you do it, so every morning you can wake up with a smile. Or at least a half-smile. 😉 Put your ‘happy music’ on a music player, and leave it on your bedside table. Make sure it’s the first thing you listen to when you wake up. Leave yourself plenty of time in the morning to get ready and have a full breakfast, chilling out before work starts. Spend time with loved ones and friends, but don’t feel pressured to go to any invites you don’t feel up to.
Step 5. Shit does happen.
It’s an unfortunate fact, that the best laid plans, are often covered in cow-muck. But this is life, and we have to accept it happens – but not accept that we want it. When something happens that you weren’t expecting, or something that ruins something you were doing – computer running slow, I’m looking at you – just smile and DON’T WORRY ABOUT IT. The world will not stop turning, nothing bad will happen, and everything can be fixed. Accept that it’s happened, don’t allow yourself more than a second’s thought on it, and move on. Always be moving forward. It’s the best way. 🙂
Do all these things, and hopefully, you can feel a little better. HUGE HUGS to you, whoever you are. ❤
The Print-Off ‘I’m Chillin’ Right Now’ Sign
Here’s what it looks like! And right here, I’ve got the link for you to print your own off: Click me here for the link! Print me as much as you like! 🙂 Feel free to print as many as you need, and delete whichever bits don’t apply to you on the poster. 🙂
And you want to talk to someone, you’ll find them all here. Don’t forget the most important thing: you’re not alone. 🙂
Rethink Mental Illness
Support and advice for people living with mental illness.
Phone: 0300 5000 927
Charity for sufferers of depression. Has a network of self-help groups.
CALM is the Campaign Against Living Miserably, for men aged 15-35.
MDF: the bipolar organisation
A charity helping people living with manic depression or bipolar disorder.
Confidential support for people experiencing feelings of distress or despair.
Phone: 08457 90 90 90 (24-hour helpline)
Promotes the views and needs of people with mental health problems.
Phone: 0300 123 3393
The Mental Health Foundation
Provides information and support for anyone with mental health problems or learning disabilities.
Information on child and adolescent mental health. Services for parents and professionals.
Phone: Parents’ helpline 0808 802 5544
Young suicide prevention society.
Phone: HOPElineUK 0800 068 4141
*From the NHS website
U.S. Suicide Hotline: 1-800-784-2433
NDMDA Depression Hotline (support group): 800-826-3632
Suicide Prevention Services Depression Hotline: 630-482-9696
AAA Crisis Pregnancy Center: 800-560-0717
Child Abuse Hotline (support and information): 800-792-5200
Crisis Helpline (for any kind of crisis): 800-233-4357
Domestic and Teen Dating Violence (English and Spanish): 800-992-2600
Parental Stress Hotline (help for parents): 800-632-8188
Runaway Hotline (all calls are confidential): 800-231-6946
Sexual Assault Hotline (24/7, English and Spanish): 800-223-5001
Suicide and Prevention Hotline (Covenant House): 800-999-9999
National Child Abuse Hotline: 800-422-4453
National Domestic Violence Hotline: 800-799-7233
National Domestic Violence Hotline (TDD): 800-787-3224
National Youth Crisis Hotline: 800-448-4663
24-Hour National Crisis Hotline: 1-800-448-3000
Covenant House Nineline: 1-800-999-9999
Abuse / Violence Child Protective Services: 1-810-412-6109
Family Violence Helpline: 1-800-996-6228
National Domestic Violence Hotline: 1-800-799-7233
National Referral Network for Kids and Adolescents In Crisis: 1-800-543-7283
Alateen/Al-Anon for the friends/family of alcoholics: 1-800-813-3105 or 1-800-356-9996
Alcohol and Drug Helpline: 1-800-821-4357
National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependancy Hope Line: 1-800-622-2255
Marijuana Anonymous: 1-800-766-6779
American Council for Drug Education: 1-800-488-3784
Eating Disorders Information and Referral Line: 1-800-931-2237
National Crisis Line – Anorexia and Bulimia: 1-800-233-4357
Overeaters Abuse Hotline: 1-800-888-4680
National Eating Disorder Hotline: 1-800-248-3285
Food Addiction Hotline: 1-800-872-0088
American Cancer Society: 1-800-ACS-2345
American Lung Association: 1-800-586-4872
Hotline for Teens Who Cut: 1-800-366-8288
National Depression Association: 1-800-826-3632
Boys Town Hotline (for Girls AND Boys): 1-800-448-3000
Gay and Lesbian Hotline: 1-888-843-4564
National Hotline for Gay, Lesbian, Bi and Transgendered Youth: 1-800-347-8336
PRIDE Institute for Lesbian and Gay Mental Health: 1-800-547-7433)
National Alliance for Mentally Ill: 1-800-950-6264
Planned Parenthood (connects you with your local clinic): 1-800-230-7526
Emergency Birth Control: 1-800-584-9911
National STD Hotline: 1-800-1-227-8922
Sexually Transmitted Diseases Clinic: 1-810-573-2090
AIDS Hotline: 1-800-872-2497
NO MEANS NO: 1-877-666-3267
RAINN – The Rape Abuse & Incest National Network: 1-800-656-4673
Family Youth Interventions: 1-810-758-7040
Runaway RAP Line: 1-800-292-4517
National Youth Crisis Helpline: 1-800-999-9999
National Adolescent Suicide Hotline: 1-800-621-4000
Teen Suicide Prevention Hotline: 1-800-949-0057
*From the http://thesafeheaven.org website