21 Tips for Keeping it Together During Depression

What do you do when depression hits? Rosalind Robertson offers some good advice to help keep it together during this time. You can find her original post at her Tumblr account. Bookmark it, copy it, read it and put it use. And most importantly, know you’re not alone in this.

#MentalHealthAwarenessMonth #MentalHealth #MentalWelness #YouAreNotAlone


21 Tips for Keeping it Together During Depression

By Rosalind Robertson

  1. Know that you’re not alone. Know that we are a silent legion, who every day face the solipsism and judgment of Happy People Who Think We Just Aren’t Trying. There are people who are depressed, people who have been depressed, and people who just haven’t been hit with it yet.
  2. Understand that the Happy People are usually acting out of some genuine (albeit misguided) concern for you, that it’s coming from a good place, even if the advice feels like you’re being blamed for your disease. Telling you these things makes them feel better, even if it makes you feel terrible. (If they insist on keeping it up, see #12.)
  3. Enlist the help of a professional. See your doctor. You need to talk about the ugly stuff, and there are people paid to listen and help you find your way to the light at the end of the tunnel.
  4. Understand that antidepressants will only do so much. They’re useful, they’ll level you out and give you the time you need to figure out your own path to getting well. They can be helpful. There are lots to choose from. They may not be for you, and even if they are, they take some time to kick in. Conversely, they may not be for you. Work with your doctor.
  5. Pick up a paintbrush, a pencil, an activity you got joy from in the past and re-explore that. Or, sign up for the thing you always wanted to try. There is a long history and link between depression and creativity. It’s a bright light of this condition, so utilize it to your best advantage.
  6. Eat nutritionally sound, regular small meals. If you’re having trouble eating, try to focus on what you’d like to eat. I went through a whole six week episode of tomatoes and cream cheese on a bagel twice a day. Not great, but it was something – helpful context, I’m a recovered anorexic. Conversely, if all you want to do is scarf down crap, try to off-ramp it by downing a V-8 and doing #9 for 15 minutes, and see how you feel. Chucking your blood sugar all over hell’s half acre is going to make you feel worse.
  7. While you’re doing #3, get some bloodwork done. If you’re low on iron or vitamin D, or if your hormone levels are doing the Macarena… these can all contribute to zapping your energy or switching your mood to Bleak.
  8. If you’re in bed and the “insomnia hamsters”, as I like to call them, are on the wheel of your head, watch Nightly Business News on PBS. This has the effect of Nyquil. Swap out your coffee for herbal tea. If you just cannot sleep, try the next tip….
  9. Learn how to meditate. Start by focusing on your breathing. Not sleep, not thoughts. In through the nose, out through the mouth. Meditation is focusing on being present in your body, not careening around in your brain. It may not be as good as sleep but it will give you some rest and recharge you.
  10. Face a window as often as you can – at work, at home. Look out into the world. Watch. Observe. Try to find something you find pretty or interesting to focus on. And, handily remember that one in five of those people out there feel the way you do.
  11. Cry. Better out than in. Sometimes it’s not convenient or career-enhancing to cry, so find a private place as best you can and let the tears go. Carry Kleenex and face wipes and extra concealer if you wear makeup. You can always claim allergies.
  12. Any “friend” who resolutely believes that your depression is because you’re lazy, because you’re not trying hard enough, who blames you for not bootstrapping out of it- that friend needs to be cut off. Polite (#2) is one thing, but there is a limit. You don’t have to explain, you can just not respond. You feel badly enough; you don’t need their “assistance”.
  13. Limit your time with people who drain you. You know who they are. Often you don’t have a choice- but you can put the meter on. And, subsequently, be aware of what you’re asking of those close to you.
  14. Everyone has stuff they’ve got to deal with. What you have been saddled with is your stuff. Recognize, just as you’re not alone, you’re also not unique. The grass may look greener, you may be jealous or envious of others who don’t have to deal with depression, but you likely do not know everything that’s going on with them.
  15. Let go or be dragged. This is an old Buddhist saying. It’s a very useful way to frame aspects of depression. Betrayal, anger, fear… letting go is a process – often a painful and difficult process – but it’s ultimately going to show you the path out of this terrible place. Repeating the mantra can help when you’re feeling gripped by these feelings.
  16. Wear clothes that make you feel confident. It takes as much time to put on nice clothes as it does to put on sweatpants. You will want to wear the sweatpants. Fight the urge. The whole “look good/feel better” campaign isn’t limited to cancer and chemotherapy. Or women.
  17. Avoid fictional drama and tragedy like the plague. No Grey’s Anatomy, no to The Notebook, or anything that won a Pulitzer Prize. You’ve got enough going on In Real Life. Comedy only. Or trashy stuff. Old episodes of Wonder Woman? I’ve got the box set. Mindless drivel, like the latest CGI blockbuster. Or clever, funny books. David Sedaris. Jenny Lawson. Fiction exists to elicit emotion, and the emotion you need to express most right now is laughter.
  18. Simple exercise, if you can. It can be something as simple as taking the stairs up a flight, or walking around the block. It doesn’t have to be elaborate; it doesn’t have to involve climbing a mountain or running a marathon. Baby steps.
  19. Depression will lie to you. Depression will try to tell you what others are thinking. That you are unloved and unworthy, that others think little of you or don’t care – or even wish you harm. You are not a psychic. Keep repeating that. “I am not a psychic”. Repeat. The only way to know what another person is thinking is to up and ask them.
  20. If you are well and truly losing this battle, reach out to someone. I’ve been the random friendly-but-not-close person who has fielded the occasional outreach. I like to think I’m not judgmental and generally resourceful, and others have thought the same, so they called and asked. You know someone like me. And they will help you.
  21. Forgive yourself. I’m writing out all these tips, and I can’t always muster the strength to even stick my nose outside, or walk up the stairs, or eat my vegetables. Today, I got outside for ten minutes. I will try again tomorrow. And I will try again the day after that.

This list will not cure you. This list will not flip on the happy switch. God, I wish it were that easy. The theme here is to not to unknowingly sabotage yourself. All these little things? Like your blood sugar, or watching nonstop episodes of House, or endless Try Harder lectures from your Perpetually Perky sister? They all make dealing with depression just a tiny bit harder than it needs to be. And it’s hard enough, all on its own.

Mental Wellness

Today marks the last day of May and my final post for Mental Health Awareness Month. Do not let this stop you from reading or discovering more about mental illnesses, though – or rather, mental wellness, as I heard someone say this month. Because that’s what we’re striving towards. And I think today’s link makes that point.

Too often, when someone asks us how we are, our conditioned response is, “I’m fine.” Even when we’re not. Especially when we’re not. But what if we were honest with ourselves? What if we were honest with others? What if we opened up to those we trusted and let others help us heal? It’s not easy, but worth it.

Don’t read over what follows: if you or someone you know is struggling with depression or mental stress, text ‘Start’ to the Crisis Text Line at 741-741. It’s free and confidential; and someone is available to talk to you 24/7. You can visit their website www.crisistextline.org for more information. You can also call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (800-273-8255) or National Alliance on Mental Illness (800-950-6264) for support and local referrals.

What I Would Say If I Was Honest About My Depression

By Fraser Speaks

I’m not OK.

I wish I could tell you this. I want to so many times. When you ask how I am.

I’m not OK.

Is what I want to say.

Instead I nod my head. Usually just one confident nod. Sometimes I’ll nod a few times. For security.

Tilt it slightly to the left.

Make sure my smile is big but not too big.

I am so good!

And then I immediately segue into talking about you. Asking how you are. What you have been up to. Steering as far away from the subject of me as I can get us. See how good I am at it? I amaze myself sometimes with how good of an actress I can be.

I feel myself dying a little bit more on the inside. Angry that I let another opportunity come and go. Another opportunity to open my mind up, just a little, and let some of the creatures out.

But I don’t. I can’t. I want to. I want to so badly. But I can’t.

Because here’s the thing: I was fine the day before. I was fine the week before. I’ve been fine for a whole month before!

Before it came back. Because it always does. It tricks me. But it tricks you more.

You see how good I have been. Maybe I was even great. Amazing. Fantastic. And I want you to know I really was. But you, like so many others, were tricked into thinking maybe it wouldn’t come back. That sense I had been doing so well. I’d been so happy. That I could do this.

You’re not the only one though. It got me too. Except, deep down, I always knew the truth. I knew it would eventually be back. It always comes back.

And so I can’t tell you. I like feeling as though someone is proud of me. I like seeing and hearing something other than concern when someone asks how I’m doing. As long as I don’t say it aloud.

I’m sick.

Then I can pretend for a little while longer that I am OK.

So I can’t tell you. I don’t want all of that to disappear yet.

Even though I need you. The longer I continue treading water, trying to keep a smile showing above the water, the more detached I become. Not just from you. From everything. Family. Friends. Strangers. The world.

The longer I keep news of this unwanted trespasser to myself, the harder it becomes for me to get away from it. The harder it becomes for me to kick it out of my house. Out of my mind. The harder it becomes for me to defend myself from his advances. Eventually I will become too tired. And I’ll let it take my innocence and spirit away. What’s left of it anyways.

My therapist says I need to open up to someone.

Who are your close friends? Maybe one of them?

My mind goes blank.

Who is your best friend?

I have turned into a mute. Unable to come up with an answer. Unable to say anything at all.

I tell him I don’t know anymore. I tell him I feel so removed from everyone I don’t think I have any. I tell him I don’t feel close to anyone.

He asks when the last time I felt like I had a best friend was. I tell him I don’t remember.

He tells me my mind is telling me all of these things. And I know this. I do. But I can’t shake the feelings and thoughts that have once again taken up residency in my already overcrowded mind. I don’t have the energy to evict them right now.

The loneliness. The sadness. The numbness. The fatigue. The overall melancholy that seems to hang over me at all times. So thick I sometimes I can actually see it. Hanging dense like fog. Hanging heavy on me like humidity in the summer when all you want is relief from the heat. It smothers you. Except this kind of humidity isn’t warm. It feels cold. It numbs me more instead of thawing me out.

I’m always cold. But I wake up at night sweating. My sheets damp from it. The side effects of my terrible, violent, excruciating dreams. So vivid I wake up screaming and crying more often than not. There are shapes lurking in the shadows, but the light is even more frightening. I can hear people whispering. And I know it’s about me.

I want to tell you this. I want to tell you that Saturday night I sat on the bathroom floor hugging my knees as tight as I could in an effort to keep myself from falling apart even more. I want to tell you about how badly my sobs scared me. How I found myself yelling in anguish. I want to tell you about the only way I was able to get any sort of relief from this. But I don’t want to scare you.

I want to tell you about the hand that roughly grabs my heart every time I decide to leave my house. I want to tell you about the dizziness that takes over. Sometimes just from walking across my room. The shortness and sharp intake of breath when this happens. I’m too tired for this.

I don’t want you to think of me as a burden. As another source of anxiety. Of worry. I don’t want you to pity me. I don’t want you to think of this as something to add to the list. The list of what’s wrong with me. I don’t want to pollute your happiness with my despair. I don’t want you to see me as something to be handled with care. Something fragile that could shatter if you talk too loudly.

Because I need you. I need you to remind me of how strong I am. I need you to be a place where I can rest. A bench to sit quietly on. To cry quietly on. Something to steady myself on so I don’t end up all the way on the ground.

I don’t need advice. I don’t need you to talk. I just need you to sit quietly with me. I just need you to sit next to me. To hold my hand. To help me up. I just need you there so that the loneliness and the sadness and the despair doesn’t drown me. I just need some help treading water for a little longer.

But I can’t tell you this. I can’t tell you because I am scared to admit it to myself yet. I need you to know my silence doesn’t mean I’m angry with you. I need you to know my awkward response doesn’t mean that I don’t want to talk. It means I don’t know how to talk. It means I don’t know how to connect my brain with my mouth and with my heart. I’ve forgotten how to.

And so I’ll whisper it onto this slate. Hoping it becomes lost among the rest of these thoughts.

I’m not OK.

* * *

To celebrate the release of my new book, Stay With Me, as well as commemorate Mental Health Awareness Month, I will be posting articles and links on the subject through the month of May. Please share this with your friends and family. And don’t forget to get a copy of my book. Go to https://ruthegriffin.com/home/bookshelf/stay-with-me/ for more information.

‪#‎mhm2016 ‪#‎MentalHealth ‪#‎MentalWellness ‪#‎StayWithMe

Dealing With Others Judging Your Treatment

If you have a cold, do you take medicine? How about an infection? Do you hesitate to go to the doctor to get a prescription for an antibiotic? Now what if you suffer from diabetes or hypertension? Any issues taking a regular cocktail of medicines or relying on pharmaceuticals to bring some semblance of order into your life?

Too often, it’s easy to judge someone and their situation based on our experience, our knowledge, our opinion. We don’t know what that other person is going through yet we decide we know better than them when it comes to their disease. Regardless of what anyone may think though, mental illnesses are valid diseases and no one should be shamed for seeking treatment or taking medicines to help them.

If you or someone you know is struggling with depression, text ‘Start’ to the Crisis Text Line at 741-741. It’s free and confidential; and someone is available to talk to you 24/7. Visit their website at www.crisistextline.org for more information. You can also call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (800-273-8255) or NAMI (800-950-6264) for support and local referrals.

When People See My Pills and Say, ‘You Know That Stuff Is Poison, Right?’

By Danielle Clapham

You stand there and laugh at my little plastic cup filled with pills.

You think it’s funny how my dorm shelves are stocked like a pharmacy.

“You know that stuff is poison, right?”

I know… I know what you don’t…

For while you laugh at my pharmaceutical cocktail,

You can’t see the cane sitting on top of my wardrobe,

The one I’ve named

Because somehow it makes the object harder to hate.

You can’t see the scared 16-year-old girl having vials and vials of blood drawn through needles she used to be afraid of,

having too personal pictures taken of her bones in three different hospitals,

and the 18 months of her body being attacked by an enemy that no expert could name.

 You haven’t seen the girl who cries in bed because even gravity is too heavy,

and yet is scared to take the pain pills for fear of addiction.

If pain gives you strength, then I could lift mountains.

I’m strong enough to stand in front of you while you laugh at my “poison.”

I can sit here with you and swallow these rainbow-colored pills that you think are my choice to take.

Because I know what you don’t…

What a luxury it would be to have the ignorance enough to laugh

* * *

To celebrate the release of my new book, Stay With Me, as well as commemorate Mental Health Awareness Month, I will be posting articles and links on the subject through the month of May. Please share this with your friends and family. And don’t forget to get a copy of my book. Go to https://ruthegriffin.com/home/bookshelf/stay-with-me/ for more information.

‪#‎mhm2016 ‪#‎MentalHealth ‪#‎MentalWellness ‪#‎StayWithMe

Laughter is the Best Medicine

Growing up, I was what could only be described as “prissy”. I loved wearing girly things – dresses, make-up (though I wasn’t allowed until I reached middle school), jewelry – and dressing up. Which is why today’s link appeals to me so much. My wardrobe changes with the season, but there is something timeless about a tutu.

If you haven’t come across The Tutu Project (http://thetutuproject.com/), consider this your introduction. When Bob Carey’s wife Linda was diagnosed with breast cancer, he donned a tutu, grabbed his camera and took silly pictures to make his wife smile and laugh through her treatment. And while his photos go to support a great cause, the therapy can be applied to other illnesses, like depression.

Laughter triggers the release of endorphins, the body’s natural feel-good chemicals. Endorphins promote an overall sense of well-being and can even temporarily relieve pain. Laughter has many benefits and can help remind us that life is good and worth fighting for.

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If you or someone you know is struggling with depression, text ‘Start’ to the Crisis Text Line at 741-741. It’s free and confidential; and someone is available to talk to you 24/7. Visit their website at www.crisistextline.org for more information. You can also call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (800-273-8255) or NAMI (800-950-6264) for support and local referrals.

***********************************************************************
To celebrate the release of my new book, Stay With Me, as well as commemorate Mental Health Awareness Month, I will be posting articles and links on the subject through the month of May. Please share this with your friends and family. And don’t forget to get a copy of my book. Go tohttps://ruthegriffin.com/home/bookshelf/stay-with-me/ for more information.

‪#‎mhm2016‬ ‪#‎MentalHealth‬ ‪#‎MentalWellness‬ ‪#‎StayWithMe‬

http://www.upworthy.com/when-his-wife-was-diagnosed-with-breast-cancer-bob-put-on-a-tutu-and-went-straight-for-the-laughs

There’s Nothing Wrong With You

What reaction do you get when you tell others you’re sick? When you mention you have a cold, stomach virus or God-forbid, something worse? Is it pity? Sympathy? Prayerful supplications?

What if instead of that, someone asked you what you had to be sick for? What was wrong with you? Or worse yet, told you to suck it up? Sounds harsh, but often time, this is the reaction most mentally ill people get when they share that they are sick. And just because it’s invisible to others doesn’t make it any less valid, or real.

If you or someone you know is struggling with depression, text ‘Start’ to the Crisis Text Line at 741-741. It’s free and confidential; and someone is available to talk to you 24/7. Visit their website at http://www.crisistextline.org for more information. You can also call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (800-273-8255) or NAMI (800-950-6264) for support and local referrals.

What it’s like to live with depression, as told through 10 comic panels.

Living with depression looks very different for different people.

But we should be talking about how depression feels and looks more often because, as national mental health groups report, major depressive disorder affects around 16 million adults in the U.S. per year.

For many people, depression changes daily interactions.

Handling everyday problems, interacting with friends and loved ones, and even working can be especially difficult for those who are struggling.

Most people don’t talk about depression or ask for help either.

Experts estimated that 1 in 4 people have treatable mental or emotional challenges, but thanks to factors such as money, time, and stigmaup to 75 % of Americans and Europeans don’t seek the help that they need.

Minorities are particularly hesitant to find treatment for depression, with only 7.6% of African-Americans reported reaching out in 2011 compared to 13.6% of the general population.

That’s why artists from Empathize This illustrated some real talk about the complexities of living with depression.

Through art, they’re hoping to dismantle the stigma that surrounds it.

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To celebrate the release of my new book, Stay With Me, as well as commemorate Mental Health Awareness Month, I will be posting articles and links on the subject through the month of May. Please share this with your friends and family. And don’t forget to get a copy of my book. Go to https://ruthegriffin.com/home/bookshelf/stay-with-me/ for more information.

‪#‎mhm2016‬ ‪#‎MentalHealth‬ ‪#‎MentalWellness‬ ‪#‎StayWithMe‬

Depression is More Than Sadness

I took this weekend off from posting (though my daughter did take over at one point and post pics of herself…teenagers).

There’s a week left in May, but that doesn’t mean the awareness stops. Depression certainly doesn’t. And neither do Bipolar, PTSD, ADHD, SAD, self-harm, eating disorders and suicidal behavior. Lots of names, but they all fall under the same category and affect people in debilitating ways.

But there is help available. I’ve posted the information for the Crisis Text Line before and you’ll find it again below. There’s also the National Suicide Prevention Hotline, and if you’re in the Raleigh-Durham Area, there’s the Telecare ACTT Durham. I got to meet two lovely ladies from Telecare this weekend, Elaine Shriner and Vanessa Ellington-Alston. They work hard to change the stigma of mental illness in the Durham community and get people the help they need. Check out Telecare’s website at http://www.telecarecorp.com/.

For today’s post, check out the video from The Mighty, another great site. If you thought Depression was just feeling sad, you’ll find you’re not even close. “It’s an inability to feel anything at all.”

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If you or someone you know is struggling with depression, text ‘Start’ to the Crisis Text Line at 741-741. It’s free and confidential; and someone is available to talk to you 24/7. Visit their website at www.crisistextline.org for more information. You can also call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (800-273-8255) or NAMI (800-950-6264) for support and local referrals.

***********************************************************************

To celebrate the release of my new book, Stay With Me, as well as commemorate Mental Health Awareness Month, I will be posting articles and links on the subject through the month of May. Please share this with your friends and family. And don’t forget to get a copy of my book. Go to https://ruthegriffin.com/home/bookshelf/stay-with-me/ for more information.

‪#mhm2016 #MentalHealth #MentalWellness #StayWithMe