A weird, energy-sucking flu (Part 1) – What to do when you’re depressed

Thanks to the wonderful world of Twitter I discovered two articles on depression from Ink and Feet, one on what to do when you’re depressed and another on how to help someone with depression, which manage to sum it up pretty well as being a weird, energy-sucking flu. I thought they were pretty great, so I decided to write down the take home messages from each because they’re actually pretty similar to the messages the many support networks I’m fortunate enough to have have been telling me this week, and I think I need to make sure I remember them.

 

So, what do you do when you’re depressed?

1. Accept that you have this weird, energy-sucking flu.

You probably have low energy, weird sleep patterns, feel down and uninterested in things you usually enjoy, have weird thoughts and don’t know why it’s all happening. But the main thing to remember is you’re fine, sane and totally normal, you just have this this weird, energy-sucking flu.

 

2. Dial it back.

Lower what you’re asking from yourself if you’re not feeling great. Because it will pass, you just need to give it some time.

 

3. Do stuff that you care about, even though you feel bad.

Acknowledge how rubbish you feel, but try to do the things which you care about. It might not work, and you might not feel that much better, but it means that you’ll be able to look back and see that you did the things that you care about, that mean lot to you and which have an importance in your life. It might not make you feel better at the time, but it the distant future that seems so far away right now, you’ll have the times you did things you like to remember.

 

4. Tell your support people who get it and more importantly, let them help you.

If you already have a good support group around you, then that’t great! Use them! But if you don’t, it’s okay. Because they are out there, it just might take some time to find them and they might not be in the place you expected them to be. They might not be the person you’re closest to, and there might be some things which are easier to talk about with some people than others, but they are there. There’s always someone who will want to listen, who will accept what you say and not think that you can or need to be ‘fixed’. It’s not always easy to find people to support you, and quite often you might have to step out of your comfort zone and tell people things you didn’t think you ever would. It will be difficult, but you’ll probably be surprised to find that there are more people who care about you than you think.

 

5. Ditch everyone else.

The one’s who don’t support you that is. You don’t need them. If someone’s bugging you to talk to them or to do something and you can’t, tell them that you’ll get back to them soon because you need time to yourself right now. And while you’re at it, you know all those people on Facebook who you haven’t spoken to in years but who keep popping up on your timeline and who you don’t really care about or want to hear from anymore? Unfriend them! Because what’s the point?

 

6. Find your no-energy comforts.

Find the things that take no energy but that give you comfort and support. Video games, writing, music, Netflix, pizza. Everyone will have a different list, and you could even write it down so that when depression really hits you don’t need to spend your energy trying to think of something enjoyable to do, because you’ve already done it.

 

7. Find your safe place.

Find the place where you can get things out of your head, like writing it down (it genuinely helps despite feeling very weird at first). Or you could make videos, take photos, talk to a random inanimate object. Whatever way works for you to get all the mixed up thoughts out of your head, where you can look at them properly, you can see them for what they are – they’re not you, it’s the flu.

 

8. Know that this will pass.

Remember, it’s like flu. Look after yourself, get rest, stay engaged with the things that matter to you. You might have a more severe form of flu so you might need to see a doctor when it gets really bad and isn’t going away, you might need to take medication and it might take longer than you want for it to pass. But it will pass. It might not feel like it, but it will.

And if you start thinking you’re worthless, that it’s not going to pass, when you’re in a dark place and feel like you’re all alone, the most important thing to remember is this:

No matter who you are, where you live, or what’s going on in your life, those thoughts are the weird, energy-sucking, brain-bending flu. It’s not you.

No matter what your brain tells you, you are not worthless, it is going to pass, and you are not alone. You are valuable, people will miss you, and even though there are tough times that you have to go through and it doesn’t seem fair, there are so many things in life that will make it worthwhile.

 

9. Know you’re not alone, and there’s not one thing wrong with you.

Depression is normal. Almost 1/5 people deal with it at some point in their life, and 1/20 deal with it regularly. It can affect anybody, even if they seem perfectly happy on the outside. You’re not struggling with it because there’s something wrong with you, or because of something you did or didn’t do. You just happened to be one of the people who if affects, and you’re not the only one. There’s a reason why the support for mental health conditions is growing, there’s a reason more and more campaigns are done to try and encourage people to talk about what’s going on in their head, there’s a reason that universities have mental heath services and there’s a reason why we now have a shadow minister for mental health – because it’s affecting so many people, and you don’t have to go through it alone.

 

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