So, full disclosure — this was actually a post I wrote when I first started my blog nearly a year ago. I wrote it as one of my very first posts, but I hesitated on sharing it until now. Unfortunately, there is still a massive stigma around discussing mental illness, and while there has certainly been steps taken in the right direction, as a society we still have a long ways to go. Sharing this post is a little scary for me, I won’t lie — it feels very uncomfortable to open up too deeply on the internet to everyone who knows me (and countless who don’t) about my personal struggles with mental illness. It still is challenging to open up like this, but I’m hoping that by sharing this I too will be helping take steps in the right direction to help open up discussion between others, and I’m hoping I’ll also be able to help anyone who’s struggling and doesn’t know where to start.
Mental illness is something I have struggled with for just about as long as I can remember. However, the stigma around talking about it is something that I knew about far before that. The first time I ever had to receive help for my mental illness, I was only twelve years old. At the time, it was something so seldom spoken about that it was even kept a secret even from my sister. This is not something that should reflect poorly on my family — that’s just how everyone dealt with mental illness at the time. In the last eleven years, things have certainly changed a lot — but there’s still a long way to go. My family now is very open with each other about mental illness, and how beneficial it has been has been clear as day. I’m hoping that by sharing this I can help others to be more open to discussion, and help those who are struggling to feel comfortable opening up to family, friends, or doctors. As well, if you don’t quite feel comfortable with that yet, whether you know me personally or not, I’d like you to know you can always talk to me. I may not understand what you, personally, are going through, but it always helps to talk it out in a judgement-free space, especially with someone who could potentially relate. (If you don’t know me personally, you can always feel free to reach me via Twitter DM). As well, if you don’t feel comfortable with that either, no worries — I’ve also attached some crisis hotlines at the end of this post for those who need it.
As a final reminder, the advice I’ve attached below is just what has worked for me personally. It may not all be helpful to everyone, and some of you reading this may think that none of it sounds useful whatsoever. Everyone has different things that work for them; depression is a complex disease and there is no one simple and easy cure-all. I’m just hoping that at least one item on this list may help someone, even the smallest change is still change. The rest of the post following is the original post I created last May.
I know this is something I have discussed before briefly but I have struggled with mental illness my whole life. While some of my diagnoses come and go, depression seems to have stuck around for the long run. Now, I know this is a difficult subject and not everything here works for everyone. Honestly, some people may read this list and think that none of it sounds legit. However, this is what tends to help me out best and I figured I’d share on the off chance it may help someone else.
Living with depression is something that takes constant effort to persevere through. Not everything works for everyone. Some people manage their illness alone, while some use therapy to assist. I myself take medication to help alleviate my symptoms. However, as my doctor pointed out one visit — antidepressant medication helps, but you have to put in the effort to make it work. Simply taking antidepressants while putting in no additional effort is rarely effective. So here’s a list of some of the things I do to help make my medications work best! Even if you don’t take medication, chances are some of these tips will help you out too.
- Get out of bed as quickly as you can in the morning. It’s hard, but do your best not to hit the snooze button too many times. Chances are if you’re able to push through it you’ll feel much less tired while waking up, as well as throughout the day.
- Set an alarm every day, even on the weekends. Having a routine is key. Even if you have a day off, you should still do your best to wake up and stick to it.
- Have a morning routine you follow everyday. Do your best to follow the same steps every morning. I’m not too sure why, but this one really helps me.
- Eat healthy. I personally find the key to maintaining a healthy diet is moderation. If you try to stick too hard to eating 100% healthy, odds are you’ll end up binging or even fall off the wagon completely and end up in a phase of super unhealthy eating (I know I do). So try to eat healthy, allow yourself an unhealthy snack when you want it, eat some junk food everyone once in a while, and just try to keep a normal balance.
- As a side note, try to eat breakfast every day. I find it helps keep you on track to eat at least three meals, as well as help jumpstart your day. I’ve gone until dinner without eating more times than I can count, but if I eat breakfast I often follow with other scheduled meals as well.
- Keep yourself busy throughout the day. It’s exhausting, but at least you’ll be ready to sleep whenever your scheduled bed time is.
- Take some time for self-care. This is important for everyone, but it’s especially important to check in with yourself if you struggle with mental illness.
- Get outside. Just go for a walk if you’re not feeling up to something big. The fresh air always helps me clear my head.
- EXERCISE. Yes, people say this one all the time. It really is for a reason. If you can learn to love working out, it will improve your mental health SO MUCH. Personally I’m being a bit of a hypocrite here as I haven’t been to the gym in months. But whenever I get into the routine of working out I notice immediate changes in my quality of life. In particular, if you’re in a more severe depressive state, about halfway through your work out you can literally FEEL the endorphins have an effect on your brain.
- Socialize as much as you can, based on your schedule. Even if you’re tired and stressed. Spending time with people you love, who don’t cause you stress, really does help. It doesn’t have to be anything big, either — it can just be hanging out at one of your houses doing nothing at all.
- Try to plan out your day as best as you can. At my best times, I schedule my life almost to the hour. It helps keep you out of bed if you’ve written down that you have somewhere to be.
- Clean your space. I really knew my medications were starting to work when I started keeping my room clean. Back before I started taking them, my room was a MESS. Nowadays, I keep my space tidy, do my laundry regularly, and even make my bed every day. If you’re not ready to deep clean everything, just try to tidy up. If you’re already pretty tidy, try to make a routine of stuff such as vacuuming, mopping, and regularly cleaning up your space. If you’re ready for it, do a whole Marie Kondo-style clean up of your things. Her show really did inspire me to go through my stuff and clear out things I didn’t need. Keeping a clear space helps me to keep my mind clear and reduce stress.
- Try to present yourself well when you go out. I don’t mean start doing your hair and makeup every day if that’s not something you usually do. Just do whatever it is that makes you feel presentable when you go out in public, even if you aren’t going to see people you know. It helps with your confidence and overall happiness when you aren’t worried about how you look.
- Make changes in your life. This is more for people in severe depressive episodes who can’t seem to get out of them. Shake things up a little. I recently had to move out of my old apartment, which wasn’t my choice, but the move to a new space really did help me out of a bad phase. It doesn’t have to be something that big, but if you can do something that really makes a change in your life, go for it!
- Lastly, talk to your doctor. Even if you’re coping 100% fine on your own, it doesn’t hurt. Talking about things helps. On top of that, you may not even realize how bad things are — I know I didn’t. I thought I was coping just fine on my own, and was totally missing the signs I needed medications and was back in a depressive episode. With Major Depressive Disorder, it is possible to go into remission. However, even if you’re in remission and doing fantastic right now, you may slip back into a depressive state without even noticing it. Medical professionals know what they’re doing, contrary to many people’s beliefs. They know how to help with psychiatric issues. You may feel like no one understands what you’re going through, but that is the nature of depression. Your doctor may not “get it”, but they will know how to help.
I know that depression presents itself differently in everyone and these tips will not work for everyone. But I really hope that for some of you guys reading this, you find something here that helps. If anyone wants to chat with me about anything, I’m always open to discuss! It may seem on the outside, especially over social media, that everyone else around you is living an absolute perfect, struggle-free life, but that is rarely the case. Big or small, everyone has a battle in life you likely know nothing about. Remember how important it is to be kind. And lastly, if anyone has any of their own tips they’d like to share I’d love to hear them.
Love you all,
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