22 Thing That Help Me Cope With Depression
Philosophical and practical, trying to be sane one step at the time.
I’ve been depressed since I was nine and in treatment since I was 15.
Literally half of my life.
Now, and for the first time I can honestly say I’m not thinking about killing myself every 10 minutes; kind of enjoying life, in a full functional, loving, fun and mature relationship with my girlfriend, and I still got a freelance job so I can work from home and I can feel like I’m almost functioning in society.
This is very new and I still don’t know how I got here so this list is an attempt to give some inspiration to my fellow depressive sisters and brothers, but also a reminder of all the hard work I been putting for my wellbeing.
0. Work hard and persevere
Spelling the tea: This is gonna be HAAAAAAAAARD. Like Crazy Fuckin Hard. Is gonna take a lot of endurance and you gonna feel like quitting like, most of the time. Almost none of your progress is gonna feel like an improvement and even if you get better the fear of become depressed again can be as paralyzing as the disease.
Finding the right combination of all the factors that comes to you getting better is a scary road full of trial and errors. Is never easy. But if you hang on -like somehow I been doing it for the last 20 years of my life- you will probably find the right strategy that works for you. I swear that all this hardcore energy you’ll spend trying to get better is gonna pay eventually.
Even if you don’t feel compelled to start the search of happiness, and even if you think there’s no cure for what you got, just try. You already feel like crap, what’s worse than that? Think about it.
If you don’t realize what’s happening with your feelings, emotion, self esteem, and relationships with the rest of the world, you won’t be able to admit that you have a serious disease, and even less willing to ask for help; a step that’s very fundamental in the process of make yourself feel good.
2. A good doctor
This sound obvious but is not as easy at its seams. Not at all. A good doctor needs to make you feel like is compromised with your health. Someone engaged in treating everyone of your symptoms so you can feel good. And you need to trust them and be very real about how you feel. Search until you find one, and try to ask for a second opinion for now and then.
I’m really in love with doctor. She’s meticulous as fuck and has this attitude that screams “OK, let’s put down this motherfucker for good this time”. Makes me feel like she’s the Gina Carano of this situation, and always reassures me.
3. Therapy that works for YOU
I was in psychoanalysis two times a week for almost five years. I went there cause my then doctor recommended. What a waste of time.
I can say it help me a lot to getting to know myself but help me almost zero in the combat against my anxieties and my feelings of being inadequate in this world, my social phobias or my issues with productivity.
Then almost two years ago I look for a new therapist with a list of all the relevant matters to me in the search. Needed to be a feminist woman, a non catholic one, and totally open about queer issues, to put a few examples. I also ask for a full explanation about their method of work and if it would help me to bit my day-to-day issues, so I can function in life.
Lucky me, I found Javiera and SHE’S TOTALLY THE BEST.
By this, I’m saying that do not stay with the first therapist because is more easy, look for one who makes you feel 100% comfortable talking. Remember, is someone who’s about to know everything from your childhood to your sex traumas. And you need that trust in order to get better.
A lot of people just stays in medication but the spoken word and the guided help makes a world of difference, and makes the healing a more fast process.
4. A nice space to live
I know a lot of depressive people tend to live in messy houses and tend to be untidy with their belongings. I know cause I been there almost my whole life.
But you need to live in a place where you can see the Sun coming to you window for a least an hour, try to keep it clean and neat, do not hoard things and all that. I been practicing the Marie Kondo method this year and although I’m still not a super organized person, has been very helpful.
Try to have some plants and put some fucking food in the refrigerator. Decorate with things that makes you feel good.
Make your home a place you would love to come in from work everyday, so getting home be a relief AND a joy. You should try to make your room a sacred space of comfort just for yourself. And if you have some extra money, hire a cleaning lady to do the heavy duty a couple times a month. For me, is been my most beloved investment.
I really hate this one cause I been avoiding exercise for almost 20 years and everytime someone bring it to me as a magic cure for all of my curses.
But is true that depression tends to disconnect you from your own body, and doing some little training can help you be more aware of how you feel. And also the freakin endorphins.
I do pilates because you get to be lay down almost all of the time and does not leave you soaring and crying. I don’t think such a laid down workout gives me a lot of endorphins but the sense of empowerment I feel when I finish a whole routine compensates.
And I have no idea if this is doctor approved, but I believe masturbation also helps.
6. A good set of friends
I know is not easy to find new friends while depressed, but you should try. Communicate with other people is a good thing. And be honest about your health situation so people around you can be prepared to help.
They not only will try -and sometimes even succeed- to distract you from your shitty feelings, but also is people you can call when the crisis comes.
I have always feel like call a friend to calm me down in the middle of a crisis is too much to ask so I try to rotate them to not leave all the heavy duty in one person -who eventually will hate me for my neediness- and also the first thing I do when I feel fine again Is try to make a nice gesture to thank my friend who come to rescue me.
Those two things make me feel less like I am a burden for my friends.
7. Normal? MUAHAHAHAHAHA
You’re already not what “society” expects from you, so don’t expect to ‘fit in’ . Be yourself sound like the obvious advice here, but nobody ever tell you how.
But you need to remember that the notion of what makes someone normal is always subjective. Also, in these scenario, the opposite of normal is not abnormal, different or freak, is just diverse, and that’s probably where life gets fun.
Seriously, you just need to learn the key elements to function in your environment and keep you as safe as you can. The rest is up to you.
So, for your own sake, forget about normal.
Remember, your only agenda is GET YOURSELF FEEL BETTER. Not to fit in, or achieve extraordinary things or be perfect in what you dream to do.
8. RuPaul’s Drag Race
Not only is the best reality show that the world can make and it’s damn entertaining, but is also full of life lessons about being yourself, discover who you really are, be proud of it, love others, being kind, friendship, finding your place in the world, family, break rules, and not take life seriously. Every episode brings a life lesson, but never is in front of your face, but always concealed between the makeup, the gowns, the glitter, the performance and the whole art of drag.
RuPaul gives the best advices ever. She’s Yoda meets sickening.
There’s nothing better for beat my anxiety problem. It’s like “I’M GONNA KILL MYSEEEEEEEEEEEEEELF… *smoke* …MUAHAHAHAHA MY FINGERS ARE HILARIOUS!!!”.
Also: the munchies are an excellent opportunity to put some food on yourself, because of course when you’re depressed you tend to eat really bad.
11. Having plants
They reward you by being beautiful and sometimes even give you flowers. You can even have edible plants (things like potatoes are super easy to grow) and get an even more palpable reward. Helps you lower your carbon print -if you care about that- and if you live in the city you’ll see how having a little bit of nature helps you feel less alone. And you ONLY have to remember to put some water on them a few times in the week.
See my plants grow has been my form of meditation. Makes me feel as part of nature, and that connection feels so good and mistycal and wise that I can’t explain it.
Studying gender and forms of oppression has help me so much to understand from where come a lot of my incrimination of being the worst and a human waste.
13. Give Zero Fucks
I’m eager to learn more on how to fight for social justice, trying to get into activism and my willingness to fight against the patriarchy and capitalism is very strong.
I know that those forces want me quiet, looking for a husband and constantly trying to look and be nice to get socially accepted.
I won’t meet that expectations never, ever. Instead, I’m gonna fight against them.
If I’m in need to feel reassured, I’ll ask for approval to someone I highly respect their criteria.
*This is very like my “ditch normal” point, and they sound similar, but are very different process. Let’s say the first is kind of act one and this is the climax.
14. Watch Inside Out
Not only is a great movie but also the way they show a mind as a world full of different places help me to compartmentalized my own mind. So, I have a super cool island of friendship, the one that loves art, the one for cooking, and so and so, and now my depression and my angst are just two more islands in the landscape.
When my train of thought goes to somewhere near those two islands, I tend to think that is just one train, and I can put the brake on and go to another and more fun train.
I don’t use the characters as I don’t like to think in creatures having discussions in my head -I’m to afraid of hear voices-, so I only use the places, and I think about myself transiting between the different spots instead of having one messy one.
15. Avoid the news
Everything looks so violent and everything makes me so angry and full of rage and then I cry a lot and I wanna kill myself for living in such a cruel world. I swear every time I read about the Brock Turner my first reaction is to go on and kill every rapist alive and immediately I remember that I can’t and again I wanna kill myself. Sometimes I while reading about the Palestinian conflict or poverty issues my only urge is to cut myself.
I’m working in this reactions but for now I’ll take the bliss of the ignorance, just for my own self protection.
I also kind of hate this advice, because I avoid it for almost ten years and I still don’t get the daily habit is been really helpful to track my problems.
Is really good to write:
- Your moods, to see if there is a pattern. You can even make a scale from 1 to 10 and just write the date and the number. Try to record also the weather so you can see if is seasonal.
- A log of every good thing you did in the day. Try to be as positive as you can: If you have food issues, write when you eat a meal that enjoyed; if you hate exercise write when you walk for more than ten minutes; you get it.
- Also is nice to record the nice things your friends and people tell you -even if you didn’t believe it at the moment. I will be the page you’ll have to read when you’re down, so you’ll remember how others cherish you.
Is really bad to write:
- Your obsessive thoughts. Better work them in therapy.
- The negative views you take on yourself.
- To-do lists. A to do list for a depressive person is a perfect recipe for self hate and misery, the holy grail of distress, the reminder of your unproductiveness.
17. Procrastination as an Opportunity
If procrastinating were a sport, I would be the fuckin’ Nadia Comaneci of the discipline. Some days I only woke up to procrastinate all day.
Obviously I felt like shit for avoiding work all day, but when I dissected my procrastination as just avoiding work I realized I can make fun and productive things, as I also saw that the last few years of procrastination have been heavy on practicing english -like binge watch without subtitles, read the news, consume podcasts, and read comics in english- a revelation that also make me see that I can be constant at something.
Now procrastination for me has been getting a beautiful collection of well cared plants, food in the refrigerator and sometimes even clean my house or organize things in my closet. And if I do some of those things, it gets recorded in my diary of achievements.
If you feel too depressed to actually do things, try to capitalize your time in bed: surround yourself with things to learn, like watching documentaries or read about something you like. I’m currently learning how to read tarot from the comfort of my own bed when I feel I’m in low vitality mode.
18. Getting away from the triggers
If there’s something that take too much of your energy, try to look how to hack the situation. I hate go out from home so I buy all my food from the internet and I try to cook home. I’m also trying to get crazy good at being host of my friend’s gatherings so I don’t have to go to bars or other houses where I can see people I don’t now. Now I try to go out more often and even go to parties, but I never force myself.
I also try to avoid the music I listened in suicidal times and if some movie looks like is gonna have something unsettling my emotions I’m not gonna watch it until I feel super strong and super fine.
19. Letting myself actually enjoy things
My depression make me take a lot of things and strip them of their potential enjoyment, for example: reading is for work, showers to get clean, food to nurture myself and not die, painting is a waste of time and money for something nobody’s gonna see. Now I’m in the process of learning to enjoy things again and has been so good and an actual motivation for taking care of myself.
20. The Unknown
I have no fucking idea how I passed from being an atheist to a believer of non palpable cosmic energies flowing around the universe that we can use in our favor with the right knowledge and respect. I guess something has to do with my new feel of connection with nature.
I started to study Tarot for a character a was writing but then I was delighted by their messages, symbolisms, forms and interpretations, so now I’m learning how to read.
It’s been so helpful to dissect my issues, keeps me calm, and helps me see my emotions from another light.
I’m also currently in the middle of an “energetic cleanse” (note: I think that’s the best translation, not so sure), so I can harmonize my mind with my emotions and work better in therapy.
21. The Logic in Optimism
There’s a kind of optimism that doesn’t require for you to be an actual optimistic person, but a logic one. When in a crisis I repeat to myself “this is not the first and won't be the last, but I survived worst”. In a bad day, I’ll try to think that is just a day and not my actual life.
(Even in awful times this logic can work: You feel terrible, but, Is this the worst? And you feel so bad about yourself that you can convince you mindset that you can always get worse. So, if this isn’t the worst, I can live another day)
I still don’t have a healthy sleep habit, but now just feels like another problem to tackle.
And in the light of optimism I see myself not as the woman who loose all those years being depressed as a time when I train my endurance with the worst assignments and passed with a fair note. I also know how much of a problem solver I am, and try to see all this therapy years as an investment on my mental sanity for me next decades.
22. This, on repeat. And dance!
Thanks Kendrick. Thanks.
If someone have suggestions, please share them in the comments :)
Always ready to try new things to tackle depression, that’s me.