So first let’s remember that I’m not a doctor or a shrink or anything like that. But this is what I have learnt during my fight with the dark side. Because I’m in Australia, I know about stuff that is available here. If you are in another country and you can point people to the right places to get help, please leave info in the comments.
Here are my steps that I have always taken.
I See My Doctor.
Diabetics need insulin – and some depressed people need anti-depressants. You need to see a doctor who will decide if medication is what you require, that’s the very first step. You can fight this without the drugs, but it will be a lot harder. And nobody would tell a diabetic – oh don’t worry, you don’t really need insulin, just push yourself a bit harder, you’ll survive.
The chemicals in your brain are out of whack, and no amount of pushing, hoping, or begging is going to fix that. It is ok to take the drugs your doctor prescribes.
We Create A Mental Health Plan
While you are seeing your doctor, mention that you would like to create a mental health plan. Doing this gives you the ability to have 10 free sessions with a psychologist. I have done this a few times and it has made all the difference for me.
I Seek Help
I usually see the psychologist I have been referred to via the mental health plan. But you do have other options.
There’s a lot of help available out there, but you might not know where to look. That’s ok.
If you’re in Australia, Lifeline does know where to look. It’s ok to call them and ask for help. In fact it is ok to call them and talk, that is what they are there for.
If you are overseas, I don’t know where to send you but shoot me an email with your location and I’ll see what I can find. :)
What kind of help do you need? Well there’s plenty of options. Sometimes you just need to vent, to talk it out. I found it helpful to talk to someone. There’s free telephone counselling 24/7 with Lifeline, but they can also refer you to go and see someone face to face, either free or low cost. I personally find it is really useful to do that.
So now we’ve covered seeing a doctor, which is going to get you on the way out of that dark hole, we’ve talked about creating a mental health plan, and we’ve covered other possibilities as far as talking to someone. It is so useful to admit you are in the dark hole and talk about what it is like in there, and strategies to get yourself out of there.
But what next?
Now, you have to put in a little effort towards your own recovery. The two things above won’t magically fix it on their own. So what can you do? Lots of things, but here’s the stuff that worked for me.
Get out of the house.
Walk for 20 minutes a day. If you can’t do this daily, then walk for at least an hour a week but get yourself to a beautiful location to do it.
We used to go to the Botanic Gardens, which were right next to the zoo. One day when we were driving past we noticed that members get into the zoo for free. So when I found out membership was so cheap it was less than a can of coke a week, we became members, and we would go to the zoo for our walks, often spending an afternoon or a morning just wandering about.
One of the biggest problems with depression is that you want to curl up into a little ball and not look outward at all. This means you have plenty of time to focus on the negative thoughts and how you’re feeling. So instead of doing that, sign yourself up, make a commitment to some kind of volunteer activity. Make it something you want to do.
If you want to work with animals, why not look at wires or nana or the RSPCA? If you want to work with people, there’s a million options, check out this site.
I did many different types of volunteering. I painted houses, which was a lot of fun. I went through the Lifeline course and worked on the phones there, which really taught me a lot and it was something I had always wanted to do. I volunteered at the zoo, tour guiding and doing watches on the animals. I’m choosing between three different options right now but I have to find some kind of volunteer work to do here soon.
Lists of things you need to do, lists of things you want to do, lists of things as simple as daily chores. There is nothing more satisfying than crossing things OFF the list when you have done them.
There was a time when I could not get out of bed, so the one thing on my list was to manage that, every day. There were some days I just could not do it, and I had to give myself permission to be ok with that, too. So I worked out that it was a good idea to pick one day a week where I did not have to do it, where I allowed myself to stay in bed if I really wanted to. And I found, once I gave myself permission to do that, it was not really something I wanted to do – I found I wanted to get up and do things.
Paint. Write. Knit. Sew. Create.
Reward yourself for doing the stuff you don’t want to do by doing stuff you do want to do. I painted things. I did ceramics (not cheap but I loved it). I learnt to play the keyboard. I scam-baited. I still do these things now.
Listen to music.
I think this one is really important, and I know myself well enough now to note when I stop listening to music, it’s one warning sign that I’m headed for that black hole. It’s also a good idea to replace the negative thoughts in your head with song lyrics, I found.
Those Were My Combat Strategies
So that’s just a few of the things I did to drag myself out of that hole. They could work for you, if you’re down. Give them a try.. ;)