There are many tools out there for coping with depression, from the NHS approved to the homeopathic to the stuff people’s Grans swear by. Pills, potions, hypnosis, counselling, diet, exercise, crystals, pets…I for one have read many books, tried many oils and eaten some unusual fruit combinations in the pursuit of a clear head. The more positive changes you make to your lifestyle the better, but sometimes the blues hit you on a Wednesday night and no two week plan is going to save you at that point.
That’s where a little homemade therapy comes in. Here is a dinky list of things I think can help when the Dementors pay you a visit, and unlike most guides which give you great ideas for banishing the blues if they conveniently hit in the middle of the day when you happen to have time to spare and money to burn, hopefully some of these can help during those dark moments when the rest of the world is asleep.
Don’t panic – like a hangover, this unpleasantness will eventually pass and you just have to make yourself as comfortable as possible for the duration.
Have something to watch or read or listen to that is guaranteed to take you to a bit of a happy place. Something you’ve watched so many times you know all the words, songs that remind you of times you’ve been deliriously happy, a book that takes you back to being a kid. Countless times I have been saved in the middle of the night by Harry Potter and Jonathon Creek, thank you chaps.
Move. I always think being out of breath makes you feel alive, and those endorphins are like your Patronus. If you’re a runner (I applaud you) get out and feel the wind in your hair. If you’re not, take a walk and stamp out the bad thoughts with every footstep – concentrate on your breathing, lengthen your strides and make sure your heart is beating, the Dementors won’t be eradicated with a casual stroll. Put on some music and dance in your bedroom, smack a pillow until your fist gets tired, do some press ups. Be out of breath, sweat, feel stronger.
Write it down. It’s incredibly easy to say ‘call a friend, speak to someone’ but depression is a lonely disease – acknowledging your problems are worth sorting out is a hard enough step, talking about them is another hurdle all together. When people said write it down I was always dubious because putting them out there physically as words on a page felt like I was making them real. It has taken me a few years to realise they are much more dangerous piling up in your head, so get them out. Scribble a list on paper, type them out as fast as you can without editing, write them as a text on your phone. Write, read, acknowledge, delete in style (rip up the paper, have a five second bonfire or just press the backspace button super hard).
Have a long hot shower – I know it’s tempting to let everything go to pot but you do feel better when your hair is washed, you have removed that beard and you’re wearing clothes that smell like fabric softener – I don’t know why but you just do.
Don’t raid the drinks cabinet. It’s easy to find solace in a bottle but imagine how bad you feel now and add a hangover, it’s not worth it.
Read something inspirational. Some motivational quotes, an article about some good being done in the world…there’s a video knocking about of corgis running in slow motion for 6 minutes and I can vouch for that if everything else fails.
REST. Perhaps the hardest of all tasks for someone with depression is to relax – your thoughts come everywhere with you and being on your own in peace and quiet can see like the worst idea in the world, but your brain and body need a break. Beating yourself up and feeling crap is tiring, and is not weak to admit when you need to take some time out for yourself.
Sometimes all it takes is one from the list to ease the blues and sometimes you need to keep trying different things until you find one that works. Whether it’s buying yourself flowers, spending half an hour with a punch bag or listening to bad music, if it takes your mind off the Dementors then it’s a good thing to do.
No matter how dark it seems, the sun will always come out again – we just have to embrace those moments in the shade.