I’m suffering through a bout of the black dog at the moment. Depression has crept up on me over the past couple of days, and I’m feeling really yuck. I know I talk a lot about living positively and not letting shit get you down, but there are times even now that I find that creeping black cloud hovering over me, and life gets hard again.
This is usually the time I go quiet when it comes to blogging. I figure nobody wants to hear depressed me talking, because it’s such a downer. But this afternoon, while lolling on the sofa playing Animal Crossing for the 6th hour (catching bugs and planting flowers is so much nicer than listening to my own head when I’m like this), I had a bit of a lightbulb moment.
Everyone goes quiet when depression is biting them on the arse. Nobody talks about how they feel, what they’re doing to try to get past it, and why it might be kicking in. While nobody is talking about it, everyone is feeling alone in what they’re going through when it comes to depression.
I have to admit, I am one of the lucky ones. My depression has been diagnosed for some time, and I am well supported both by friends and my health care providers. I’m lucky enough to have had about 5 years treatment on mine, and I’ve moved out of that scary, bleak, seemingly endless phase that is untreated depression.
Thanks go excellent mental health care, I no longer let depression take it’s toll on my self esteem. Once a bout of depression would have had me tearing down all of the mirrors, starving myself, wearing baggy, black clothes and basically believing that I was worthless and the cause of all of the worlds ills. This is not how I suffer any more, though I do have moments that reflect on that, where I can’t bear to see myself in a mirror or I start thinking stupid negative thoughts about myself. The difference is now that I recognise those thoughts for what they are, my depression talking.
But that is not to say that suffering a bout of depression is any less awful now than it once was. Instead now I just feel bleak, like nothing matters and everything is grey and drab. I usually get physical symptoms with it, like headaches and fatigue, aches and pains. Also, I get sensitive to light and sounds, all I want is to sit somewhere silent and dark – any bright light physically hurts and I find most sounds annoying.
The worst thing is I’m unable to laugh. I love to laugh, I do it every day and it’s the thing people know me for the most. But when the black dog of depression has it’s teeth in my bum, the laugh just isn’t there, and it feels really horrible.
These days I know what my triggers are too. Hormones. Stress. Frustration at not being able to change things. Illness. Exhaustion.
So, what do you do when depression hits?
I used to spiral worse, because I’d let myself think all of the stupid negative things, I’d hate on myself and I’d usually make myself physically sick on top of that. Again, I’m lucky to have had some fantastic treatment for my depression, and now I know what to do when it hits.
I stop. That’s the first thing. At the very moment I realise that I’m depressed again, I have to stop whatever I’m doing, sit down and just acknowledge that I’m suffering a bout of depression. That’s the first step for me and none of the other stuff can follow until I do that.
The next step is to take care of myself. Eat well and regularly, get sleep, relax, get fresh air and sunshine if the weather isn’t too hot, have long showers and pamper myself, and generally just do all of the things that make me feel healthy and fresh. As much as I want to crawl off into bed and starve myself, I know that this isn’t the thing to do, it only makes the problem worse.
Another crucial step is to only surround myself with people who make me feel good about myself. The inflaters in my world. That goes for online too – if I can’t read blogs or talk to people on social media that make me feel good about myself, then I need to steer clear of those places. I have to keep away from triggers that upset me or stress me out. No reading about politics, keeping away from articles, stories and blogs about the injustices of the world, only watching things on YouTube or on DVD’s (I don’t watch television or read papers any more, they are just too full of rubbish and negativity) that are positive.
And finally, give it time. It will pass. I know I won’t always feel this way.
So, what about you, dear readers? What are your remedies for getting through a bout of depression? Do you know what your triggers are? Let’s talk about the black dog, it’s the best way to build a set of tools to help you deal with it when he comes to visit.
But I just want to leave you with something that has made me feel better tonight: