Thursday, February 10, 2022

5 Tips for Overcoming Depression

And just like that... 

2 years have passed since I tried to take my own life and I thank god (though probably not often enough) that it didn’t work and I am still here today. It turns out, healing is possible, self love can develop, self hatred can diminish and asking for help isn't pathetic, weak or make you any less of a person. In fact, it’s quite the opposite.  

On reflection whilst writing this post I feel emotional, happy and grateful as I can truly say there was a time I did not think I would make it here. I did not see myself continuing with life as I didn’t think the pain was manageable. To celebrate this amazing feat I wanted to write some helpful advice on what helped me get this far. Depression is an extremely complex and individual experience. It may vary in severity and naturally, motivation also fluctuates depending on where you're at. Everybody is unique and people will respond to different methods. 

These tips are derived from my personal experience managing depressive symptoms along with what I have learnt to be useful to others in my professional and social experiences. 

1. Self-love

So many aspects of my depression that have been explored within therapy such as self sabotage, unhealthy relationships, lack of boundaries, bad diet etc etc you name it, and it usually comes down to a lack of self love and self-worth. As I have worked directly on this over the past two years I have noticed a positive shift in my mindset, energy, mental health and ultimately, life. Self-love is to recognise the goodness within you, regardless of any outside circumstances. It is the knowing that you are worthy irrespective of your job, education, dress size, appearance etc. You are worthy just for being you


Speak kindly to yourself: when you speak unkindly to yourself, catch it and rephrase it to something more helpful. 

Stop judging yourself: I suppose this is similar to the above point but sometimes we place judgement on ourselves without even noticing. For example, you may think "ugh I should have gone to the gym today" - here, whilst you are not speaking unkindly you're unconsciously judging yourself for your actions - resulting in feelings of guilt, shame - resulting in further negative thoughts and behaviours. Pay attention to your word of the use "should". 

Start with what you do love: if you struggle with self love, find things about yourself you do like: Note: these do not have to be physical aspects, internal qualities are just as, if not more important. If you can't find anything you do love, find parts of yourself that you are grateful for i.e. 'i'm grateful to my my legs for getting me everywhere and allowing me to walk for miles'. 

2. Boundaries 

Without setting boundaries, you leave yourself vulnerable to others disrupting and taking from your energy. Although it's always nice to help others, at times we can spend time with others that drain us and boundaries are necessary to prevent this. This aspect applies to various aspects of life such as family, work, relationships and friendships.  

3. Connection With Others 

Whether it be friends, family or a therapist, other people have been essential to my recovery. This is difficult to admit as like many, I seem to maintain an internal core belief that I should be able to cope on my own (a trait likely related to childhood trauma). As humans we are not made to survive this world alone. We are designed to be drawn to one another, to connect and to support one another. There is strength and safety within a troop. 

When you reach out to your support system and share your difficulties, you are not burdening them. You are not expecting them to fix you and if they care for you, they will be more than happy to provide a listening ear and some emotional support. If you do not have people in your life you can do this with, there are services which can also provide such support found here. 
When we share with other such as a therapist or loved one, we may not only receive kind and uplifting words but an alternative perspective which can be essential. We are naturally our harshest critic and programmed to prioritise our own survival and so what we pay attention to is not necessarily the entire picture. 


I know first hand how horrifyingly frustrating it is when you visit a GP for chronic depression and they prescribe exercise. But Dr, I don't have the energy to brush my fucking teeth let alone go for a jog. However, there is solid science behind the benefits of exercise on our mental wellbeing. Exercise stimulates dopamine and serotonin, neurotransmitters which contribute to boosting mood. 

Movement does not have to be strenuous, involve the gym, running or any other stereotypical forms of exercise. It can be ANYTHING involving you moving your body. Movement is a way that your mind body and hopefully heart can connect, and this is a beautiful thing. 

Movement such as Yoga activates the vagus nerve (communicates messages from your body to central nervous system) initiating a relaxation response and reducing blood pressure. 

5. Just Hold On 

A big part of the process has been learning that just like thoughts, emotions do not have to control me. Although unlike thoughts, emotions are always valid, they are also temporary. Whilst you are experiencing them it does not feel this way however, if you just hold on, they will pass. When experiencing particularly strong, negative emotions I remind myself to hold on as this too shall pass.

Tips: Find an anchor/ symbol that you can think of/ divert your mind to when you're having a negative reaction to something. Mine is a butterfly :)


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