I have been dealing with depression and chronic pain for around 10 years now. I’ve been reluctant to write about this as it’s a bit of a taboo subject. But it shouldn’t be, globally more than 300 million people of all ages suffer from depression. We need to talk about it more and encourage others to seek help.
As a child I was very social, played a lot of different sports and was always full of energy. When I entered high school my mood began to drop, I didn’t enjoy socialising anymore and began to hate participating in the sports and hobbies I once loved. As the years passed, I dropped into a depression where all I wanted to do was sleep. I was eating poorly and lacked the confidence I once had. I felt empty inside.
I managed to power through high school and after a gap year, I started at the university of my dreams. I enjoyed my studies and was motivated to do the best I could. Despite struggling to control my mood, I graduated university with a double major and even managed to move to Melbourne during this time. I landed a job in my field of study and made some great friends who always lifted my mood when I was feeling down.
I currently live in London and have a job that I’m passionate about. I work with determination everyday to achieve my goals but that doesn’t mean my depression has disappeared. It still lingers in the background and makes daily life harder then it needs to be. I still spend endless nights lying awake in bed with negative thoughts swirling around my brain. Sometimes I manage to push them away but this isn’t always the case.
Here are my top 10 tips for dealing with depression:
1. Practice yoga
Doing a bit of yoga everyday can do wonders at calming the mind and relieving chronic pain. The deep breathing techniques used are great at crushing your anxiety and worries.
2. Eat regular, healthy meals
It’s amazing how much the food you eat can affect your mood. If you’re stuck in unhealthy eating habits, take a small, positive step towards healthier eating each day. Don’t try to make drastic changes all at once.
3. Limit alcohol and caffeine
This is a tricky one that I haven’t managed to achieve but I certainly notice positive effects when I cut these two triggers out of my diet. After all, they’re stimulants which can increase anxiety and negatively affect your sleep.
When you feel like you barely have enough energy to get through the day it can be hard to find motivation to exercise. Just start by doing something, even if it’s just a short walk or 30 minutes of weight lifting, it will help.
5. Accept you can’t control everything
Not being able to control everything can be a major cause of stress. Try to put the situation into perspective, is it really as bad as you think? Will predicting the bad things that may happen in the future help you?
6. Learn your triggers
Are there particular things that trigger your depression or cause you anxiety? Take note of these over time and try your best to avoid them.
7. Socialise and avoid comparison
Even though this may be the last thing you want to do, being around people who care about you can really lift your mood. Take up a sport or join a local club to combine exercising and socialising! Avoid social comparison, it’s only going to make things worse fretting over how others have a better social life.
8. Do things you enjoy (or used to)
Art by Gemma Correll
You can’t force yourself to have fun but you can push yourself to do things. You might be surprised at how much better you feel once you’ve pushed yourself to do something you thought you couldn’t. It may take time to feel better or begin to enjoy the hobbies you used to but it will happen eventually.
9. Have a routine
Art by Gemma Correll
Try to have a regular sleeping and eating routine to avoid dropping into bad habits.
10. Talk to someone
I suggest seeking help from a professional who will provide you with practical methods to deal with your depression. It’s always good to have someone to talk to.
By no means do I successfully manage to achieve all of the above but all that matters is that you try your best to improve.
I want to reach out to all of you who are dealing with depression and let you know it’s ok to talk about it, don’t let it overcome you. You’re strong and can get through it. Please seek help if you’re struggling, it’s nothing to be ashamed of and you’re certainly not alone.