Statistics from the World Health Organisation (WHO) show that:
- Depression is common, affecting about 121 million people worldwide.
- Depression is among the leading causes of disability worldwide.
- Fewer than 25 % of those affected have access to effective treatments.
These numbers are disturbing, so with the increasing prevalence of depression in society, how one deals with their mental health is becoming integral to daily living. I’ve tried a whole load of things to help me get through, some previously tried and tested, some things that worked, some that failed dismally.
Here are some things I’ve done, or presently do, to help maintain a balance:
- Burn incense and natural oils when at home. I find certain fragrances such as Sandalwood, Musk and Lavender are relaxing.
- Listen to music. Late last year I started listening to jazz and chants. I also started to rediscover some of the music I used to listen to – but had stopped through sheer laziness. I find it helps to take the edge off.
- Don’t take drugs. Most are a depressant – after the initial buzz and high are followed by the lowest of the low. I learn’t this – not by choice – one night after my drink was spiked whilst out with friends at a club. I have never felt so low before in my life then I did after that night. The memory loss did not help things. It took me over a week to start feeling normal again.
- Get a pet. Before doing so though, you need to realise it is a commitment, and they do require love and care. My dog was given to me as a present, and at times dragging myself out of the house to take her for a walk has been hard, but without her I would have been lost.
- Write lists. This helps to get stuff out of your head and onto paper. I have many journals with copious amounts of lists on all kinds of things from what makes me happy, to what I want to do in life, to why I hated my job or felt so sad. This is also good to look back on years later – to see how far you have progressed, or to really ‘see’ your patterns of thinking throughout the years.
- Allow yourself to rest. I have moved between the extremes. I have either rested too much, or I have gone like a bull at a gate, and ended up exhausted, sick and depressed. Allow yourself time to recoup, but try not to just sleep your life away. It’s a very easy habit to slip into.
- Hatha Yoga. Hatha Yoga is the more relaxed, slower paced yoga style focussing on relaxation and breathing. I didn’t actually expect to be able to relax, as I had tried other types of yoga such as Ashtanga, and ended up stressed! But alas! The effects from Hatha Yoga were instantaneous, and I really must take it up again.
- Say no. I still struggle with this, but you must learn to say no, and realise that it is okay to do so. Dealing with the guilt you feel from doing it is not easy, but you must remember that if you are exhausted, you are really no good to anyone (Note to self).
- Don’t drink too much alcohol. I should be saying ‘don’t drink alcohol’, but I can’t do that as a few drinks relax me. You just need to remember to not let it become a habit, and to avoid binge drinking, as like drugs, the high is followed by a real low.
- Exercise. Easier said than done when you are sad, tired and frustrated. I struggle with this as I’m either all of nothing. I become obsessed with something, such as weight training at the gym, but then I become so reliant on it for the way it makes me feel, that it turns into a type of addiction. And then I force myself to stop. And then I just don’t exercise.
- Get out and spend time with friends and family. Sometimes it takes a lot to get out, but when you do it’s worth it. Even if you just sit in silence with someone. Knowing they are just there really helps.
- Read. There is a wealth of literature on depression, on self-help, on writing and art therapy to help with depression, and of course comedic fiction, or really whatever you fancy reading. It takes your mind off of the seemingly never-ending internal battle within your mind.
- Talk to a professional. You may need to try a few first – councillors, psychologists, your GP, and so on, but once you find the right person, major breakthroughs can be made. Most countries have organisations or initiatives that can help with the cost these days also – so hit google and don’t let money, or the lack of, be an excuse.
- Take anti-depressants. From experience you are either pro or con anti-depressants. I have moved between the two, but as someone explained to me once, it’s like taking medication for diabetes, or cholesterol. Sometimes you just need to do it to have a better quality of life. It’s important to note here that not all types will agree with you. I took Zoloft many years ago, and weened myself off of it as the side-effects freaked me out. I managed okay for a few years, but then ended up in the lowest of the low of my depressive states, and after trying everything – diet, counseling, exercise, mediation, Pilates, yoga, and so on, I realised I could not do it myself anymore. After being open and honest with my doctor of years, we decided to try Luvox (Movox) and thankfully it has helped dramatically. The thought of possibly being on them for the rest of my life terrifies me when I think about it, but I would rather take a pill every day, then not live.
The important thing to note is that these may not work for you. Just because it works for someone, does not mean it will translate to others easily. It’s a matter of trying, and then watching yourself closely to see what the effects are.
It is also important to stress that there is nothing wrong with seeking help from medical practitioners, or in taking medication to ease things. From personal experience I have gone through this. I have avoided speaking to my doctor or seeing a psychologist, and battled with the thoughts of taking anti-depressants. But, sometimes that added assistance helps. It doesn’t mean you are a lesser human being. It just means that you are human.