I suffer from depression, which has been with me since my late teens and shows no signs of abating. Although it is controlled by medication, it still requires a great deal of effort on my part (or it sure feels like it), to get me through some days. I can feel great in the morning, not too bad around lunch and, by the evening, overwhelmed by feelings of sadness that I can’t explain or understand.
After a while, you get used to it and begin to realise what makes it better and worse. The biggest problem is actually having the motivation to do anything about it. Sometimes I do; often I don’t. And I’ve stopped berating myself for that.
With this in mind, I have a few little things that always, always brighten me up. I’m not saying they’re a fix, or even any kind of solution: they’re not. They’re simply things I do for me that might help abate the sadness for even a few minutes. For me, that can be a God send, particularly on my lowest days.
These are my go-to mood enhancers:
I don’t say much in person about my depression as it’s something I find incredibly hard to clarify to myself, never mind someone else. This is particularly difficult to describe to someone who has never experienced it themselves. Therefore, I tend to write it down and hope that someone understands.
I kept a journal for years and I tend to go back to it every now and then. There are days when I can read it and days I can’t bear to look over the words and think that I ever felt so bad and clearly had no idea how to cope with the situation.
You needn’t publish your thoughts; you could always chat to someone. I’m not big on that, so writing is the easiest medium for me to try making sense of my head. It works really well.
|There’s very little a bit of singing at the top of your lungs can’t fix (for a few minutes)
I can’t emphasise this one enough. Singing is my life saver. A 30 minute journey to work in the morning can be transformed by some serious country music sangin’ in my car. Not only does it stop you over thinking, which is my Achilles heel, but is also just a great stress reliever. I think my love of concerts comes from knowing I can sing as loud (and out of tune) as I can and I’ll always be drowned out.
Find some tunes that you know all the words to and don’t stop singing when you get to traffic lights or school crossings. OK, so maybe stop at school crossings because, you know, these are impressionable kids wandering by and you don’t want to scare them. Traffic lights, road works and sheep crossing, though? Go for it.
As a country music lover, there’s nothing better than channelling some bad ass independent women singing about cheating men and drinking whisky. My personal favourites are Miranda Lambert, Pistol Annies and you can’t beat a bit of country Taylor Swift. Also: Shake it Off by TS is the ultimate depression sing along song if you’ve had a bad day. I can dance to this while driving my car and it’s very therapeutic.
I’m not suggesting you get someone to buy them for you as this isn’t about someone else making you feel better – it’s about doing it for yourself. I live in the middle of the countryside, so my garden is full of plants and flowers that I genuinely have no clue about.
What I DO know is that some of them are very pretty and they tend to brighten up any room. They don’t need to be expensive – there are tons of flowers on sale at your local market that cost no more than a few pounds.
I have developed a serious obsession with the beautiful daffodils in my garden, which I have now hacked to death and placed in little pots in various room in the cottage. I’m not saying this will in any way make your day, but if I knew how to do that, this post would be called 8 Ways To Make Your Day…and it’s not.
I’ve even taken to growing plants and veggies and I have an odd feeling of achievement when something even starts sprouting tbh. I look at my runner bean plants the way some people look at their kids. True story.
|I don’t grow Tulips and the only reason I have daffies is that they were there when I bought the house!
This can both stress me out and calm me down. The main reason I like driving is for the music and the fact that I’m largely on my own in my car. When I drove for hours every day for work, I began to detest unlocking the door but, now that it’s just a means to get to work and back, I’ve rediscovered my love of whizzing around.
The North Wales scenery plays a massive part in this new found love of driving as, even on the darkest winter days, it’s beautiful. On the brightest summer day, it’s breathtaking and I have been known to break into a smile as I drive along the Cambrian coast, looking out across the sea.
Anyway, this isn’t so much about driving to work, it’s about adventuring and not having anywhere in particular to go. It can help to change your scenery and get yourself out of your head for a while. If you have the backdrop like I do, that’s a massive bonus. If not, look closer and you’ll soon find it.
I often survive a day by getting away from what I’m supposed to be doing. I do this because I need a few minutes to myself and I’ve stopped apologising or feeling bad about it. This can be as much as nipping to the ladies and taking a few deep breaths, or taking a walk at lunch time and changing your surroundings and your audience.
I like the noises of the town I work in and the friendliness of the local people I pass on the streets, so walking at lunch time is a great booster for me. I also have a major addiction to Dolgellau’s charity shops, so that can be the difference between staying in the office and getting out to have a rake around.
Sometimes, I just wander aimlessly through little streets that I haven’t been round before and bother anyone I see that has a dog and is unfortunate to cross my path. I love a good dog snog.
|Me taking time out to relax. In my bed of hay.
Now, stick with me here. I both love and loathe exercising. I have days filled with the kind of motivation I think Usain Bolt might have and the very next day I have the get up and go of a sloth. I do as much as I can handle and largely try not to feel guilty on the day when I get home and can’t face the thought of anything but Netflix and PJs.
What I DO know, however, is that it does improve my mood…when I can force myself into it. Unfortunately for me, I have a huge appetite, so although I exercise most days and have done for years, it’s never *quite* enough to improve my mood AND make any impact on my waistline.
I love the idea of running along the Cambrian Coast; wind in my hair; singing along to my favourite tunes, but the stark reality of the situation usually ends up being me, on the exercise bike in the spare room trawling through facebook. Still, it all counts, right?
I know this is the source of stress for a lot of people and when I feel very low I tend to avoid it all together. This is mainly because I have nothing to say and I’m not interested in looking at yet another photo of someone’s baby, who looks the exact same way they did in the countless photos they posted the day before. But that’s just me.
What I do like about it is that, when I feel a bit melancholy, I can always find a stupid quote or photo and send it to my Mum, sisters or friends and try to lift my spirits by having a giggle at something juvenile.
If this should ever fail, I have never, ever been let down by Doug the Pug or The Blueboys. I’m a self confessed crazy dog lady, anyway, so it’s not a surprise that looking at dogs dancing in outfits makes me smile. But that’s the whole point. Find something that you love, Google the Hell out of it and then take some time out to relax; oohing and aching, wondering how you could get your own dog in a flamenco outfit without losing any digits.
|You have no idea how Doug The Pug’s snapchat videos can improve you mental health.
It’s maybe a bit of a cliche, but it works nonetheless. It is particularly helpful on days when you’re completely unamused by the world and everyone in it. I can’t always be cheered up by actual people, but I can usually find something funny to watch, read, or do that can help to brighten the skies, even just a touch.
The things that make me laugh most are stupid videos (of dogs obviously), watching old episodes of Have I Got News For You? or Would I Lie To You? and even when I feel like it least, I know they’ll manage to break my resting bitch face into a smile.
If these tips don’t distract you from your problems, even just a *tiny* bit, I’m afraid you’re in trouble (I’m kidding!) You just gotta find what works for you*
*Wine is almost certainly not the answer. I’ve tried.