Friday 22 April 2016

Depression Awareness Week: What you can do to help you

-Lottie Naughton and Grace 

Students have spoken about what they have learnt about from their experiences of depression and what they have done to help themselves.

This week is Depression Awareness Week. Depression is a very real medical illness that impacts the brain and day to day functioning. Having depression can mean that everyday tasks some might consider simple can suddenly feel overwhelming and unreachable. Those with depression are more than simply 'feeling sad' and some symptoms are often misunderstood to be laziness, unwillingness and purposeful detachment from friends and loved ones. This is simply not the case. However, having depression is not a be-all-end-all diagnosis. There are lots of important lifestyle changes you can make that can really help make you feel comfortable, accept your illness and face each day with a confident and hopeful outlook. 

Of course, we understand that the suggestions we make here may not be the magic answer or cure! But giving each suggestion a try and working out what feels best for you might help you, so why not have a go?

Self Care 
Taking care of your well-being is important, but sometimes requires a lot of energy. If you're feeling low, think about how much you could achieve that day and plan a self care day around that. Here are some examples shared that may help you:

  • Distracting myself by doing things I really enjoy 
  • Taking up a new hobby
  • Exercise when I can, sleep if I need it and a healthy diet 
  • Switching off and watching a movie or a series
  • Art therapy, colouring books, creative projects
  • Playing with blue tac to distract myself 
  • Listening to music 
  • Having a long hot bath
  • Painting my nails 
  • Eating my favourtie dinner
  • Taking a nap
Positive therapeutic tools
Sometimes it is worth investing some money or your time in an activity that can help to put your mind at ease and also help you stay focused on good things happening in your life. Here are some therapeutic suggestions:

  • Writing down all the things I am grateful for in my life
  • Keeping an up to date positive thought diary 
  • Starting a blog about my experiences - sharing my good days and bad days with the world helps me understand my mental health and reflect on positive well being, rather than dwelling on the negative 
  • Making a list of things I want to achieve helps me stay focused - ticking them off makes me feel great too! 
  • Mindfulness

Acceptance and awareness
Coming to terms with having a mental illness can be hard, and whats harder is having bad days and not knowing how to respond to your symptoms. Here are some things that have worked for others facing the same challenge:

  • Accepting that it is okay to be sad sometimes (allowing myself to know I'm feeling bad, stop fighting the feelings)
  • Allowing myself to have fun and let go- not to feel guilty about being happy
  • Avoiding spending time alone when I know it won't help me
  • Working up the courage to go and see a doctor
  • Realising that I am not alone
  • Remembering it is an illness, and not my fault
  • Accepting help when help is offered
Using support networks
Having friends and family around you that understand what you are going through is important; hey can be a lifeline to you when you feel at your lowest. Here is some advice from those that have taken advantage of friends and loved ones around them:
  • Talking with others who also suffer or have previously suffered
  • Opening up to friends and family - telling people how I was feeling
  • Telling close friends that they make a difference to me and my well-being when they take the time to talk to me and include me
  • Allowing myself to accept a shoulder to cry on when I need it, and not feeling ashamed of that
If you are struggling and finding it hard to come to terms with your illness, reach out and ask for help. You are not alone and there is a lot of support out there waiting for you. These tips are a starting point and will hopefully help you along your journey.

If you would like some more information about depression please visit here.

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