SUPPORTING YOURSELF WHEN EXPERIENCING DEPRESSION

Just like anxiety, which we’ve spoken about before on the blog, low mood is a natural part of life. It can be a useful guide to warning us when something our life doesn’t feel quite right, or isn’t quite in sync, and it can help us in shifting things up so we feel brighter and more comfortable.

The problem comes when our low mood persists, and our motivation is also low, so self-help and self-care strategies seem like they’re just not achievable. In those circumstances, it can be useful to have a set of low-level, small changes that we can make to our lives, to make the day a little easier, and give ourselves a bit of a foundation for a better day.

  • Speak to someone

It sounds so challenging sometimes, to try and explain to someone else how we’re feeling. We feel like we don’t have the words, and often feel like no one else will understand. The thing is – no one will know exactly your experience of life. But there will be lots of people who care about you, and want to support you if you’re having a rough time. We’re often told to ‘put on a brave face’ or ‘smile through it’; sometimes, you just need to be honest and say, ‘I’m having a rough time at the moment and I don’t really know how to fix it’. And then just ask them to listen

  • Cover the basics

When we’re feeling low we can feel super demotivated, and we can lose track of our routines, and the basics. But humans need, and thrive, when their basic needs are met, so even if you feel like you can’t do much, make sure to hit the basics each day. You can have a ticklist in your phone, or your journal, or the simple things that you will commit to doing each day:

  • Brushing teeth
  • Three meals a day
  • Water
  • A good night’s sleep
  • Some fresh air
  • Some light exercise – nothing strenuous, just get your body moving with a walk, some stretches, a swim, or a team game with some friends
  • Time without screens – aim for an hour at the beginning and end of each day, without screens

And, even though they seem little, they can often feel totally unmanageable. So when you’ve done those things, make sure to give yourself a little pat on the back – they might be small steps, but they’re all in the right direction.

  • Choose supportive company

Have you seen the meme that says, ‘before you diagnose yourself with depression, make sure you’re not just surrounded by a**eholes? Well, it has some truth in it! When you’re feeling low, it’s a really good idea to seek out your kindest, friendliest, most supportive friends and family – the ones who make you feel good about being you. Life is hard enough at the moment, so make it easier by choosing a good gang to have around you. And, whilst we’re at it, be a good friend to yourself too.

  • Think about the most depressing day ever…

…and then reverse it. When you’re feeling at your most low, what do you do? Keep the curtains closed, not bother with your shower, stay in your room all day, curled up in bed, avoiding people and the world, and keeping your face down? Think of the behaviour you use most often when you’re feeling depressed… and then reverse it. Open the curtains, take a shower and head downstairs to have some breakfast. Make plans to see good friends or even seek out your family in the living room. Listen to your happiest music. Whilst your heart might not be in it, committing to positive behaviours can be a really useful way to ‘fake it until you make it’.

  • Avoid alcohol or drugs

When we’re feeling low, it can be tempting to manufacture a high using alcohol or substances. But what goes up must come down, and the crash is often harder than the original low. If you think this is an issue for you, be honest and talk to a trusted adult.

By Vicky Bellman

the assemblies

Fegans are proud to partner with The Poetry Society’s Slambassador programme. As part of our ‘Seasons of Change’ exhibition Fegans will be hosting a series of ‘Headspace’ Assemblies in all the secondary schools in Tunbridge Wells, Kent. There will also be a two day workshop on 10th – 11th April, at The Tunbridge Wells Museum and Art Gallery, and The Forum with previous SLAM Champion and acclaimed spoken word artist Deanna Rodger. To read more about Deanna’s work click here.

HOW TO BOOK FOR FREE SLAMBASSADOR WORKSHOP

Click here to register for our FREE SLAMbassador Workshops on the 10th – 11th April. Tickets include both days. Learn how to Slam from the best, workshop hosted by Deanna Rodger. On day two everyone will have the opportunity to perform, and be filmed, with at option of being entered into the SLAMbassadors 2018 nationwide competition.

PLEASE NOTE:  If the ticket you are interested in is SOLD OUT, please email elizabeth.barrett@fegans.org.uk to be added to the waiting list.

Dean Atta is a poet from London, UK. His debut collection, I Am Nobody’s Nigger, published by the Westbourne Press, was shortlisted for the Polari First Book Prize. He was named as one of the most influential LGBT people in the UK by the Independent on Sunday Pink List and featured in Out News Global Pride Power List.

Dean will be our guest artist at a selection of the ‘Headspace’ Assemblies.

 

Cecilia Knapp is a writer, performer, theatre maker and poet. Over the last few years Cecilia has headlined at some of the UK’s top poetry nights. She’s performed on stages at festivals including Bestival, Secret Garden Party and Wilderness.

Cecilia will be our guest artist at a selection of the ‘Headspace’ Assemblies.

 

Deanna is an international writer, performer and facilitator. She co-curates two leading spoken word events: Chill Pill and Come Rhyme With Me and is on the board of Safe Ground. Commissions include: Under The Skin (St Paul’s Cathedral), Now We Are Here (Young Vic), Women Who Spit (BBC IPlayer) and Buckingham Palace (NYT).

Deanna will be the spoken word artist hosting our SLAMbassador Workshops.

 

CASE STUDY: WILL’S* STORY

Will*, 14, is suffering from bullying at school. He used to be quite outgoing but is now refusing to attend school and stays in his room gaming. His mother cannot get him out of bed and even when she does, he will not go to school. He did agree, however, to see a Fegans’ counsellor, who helped him talk about the root causes of his school refusal. He had been targeted by a group of boys in the year above and found that avoiding school was his ‘best way out’.

The counsellor helped him talk about the feelings he had when confronted by that group of boys; the fear, anxiety and panic. The counsellor worked with him to talk about his options and the people to whom he could turn. He drew a picture that he could keep with him of all the resources and people who could help. This helped him feel safe and he returned to school. *Name and image changed for client confidentiality

CASE STUDY: SARAH’S* STORY

Sarah*, 14, is starting her GCSE’s and her mum and dad have just split up. Some days she’s at mum’s house, some at dad’s. It didn’t used to be like this. She can’t concentrate at school, her friends’ parents are still together and her brother seems to be coping much better than her.

Seeing a Fegans’ counsellor gave Sarah a safe place to voice her feelings, feelings she felt she couldn’t express to anyone else – her confusion (I had no idea it was that bad), her fears for the future (how am I going to cope with this?), her anger (it’s not fair) and sadness (everything has changed). Counselling couldn’t get mum and dad back together but over time it did help Sarah accept her new life. *Name and image changed for client confidentiality

 

CASE STUDY: BECKY’S* STORY

Becky*, 15, had been self harming for months. She wanted to stop but couldn’t. When things got too much with her friends or she’d had yet another row with her boyfriend, cutting her legs seemed the only way to relieve the stress but then she’d hate herself for it. It all came out when she was changing for PE and her friend spotted the signs and encouraged her to go to counselling, which Becky did not feel would help.

To Becky’s surprise counselling did help. Becky learned how she had kept everything inside and why. She realised how she’d been burying her worries about mum’s cancer and about getting behind at school. After all, mum would normally be the first person she talked to. Becky’s counsellor offered her a safe place to express all these feelings and over time she no longer needed to self harm to cope. *Name and image changed for client confidentiality

CASE STUDY: SAM’S* STORY

Sam*, 12, had been finding secondary school harder and harder. It was huge in comparison to his village primary school – so many buildings, so many people, so much banter. He felt he didn’t belong and became completely overwhelmed. He couldn’t concentrate in class because he dreaded social time, waiting for the next boy to shove him into the lockers.

Over time counselling helped Sam to understand himself and his personality better and taught him to be more assertive. He now spends his lunchtimes with his new friends in the music block and can stand up for himself more. School isn’t perfect but he has found ways to cope and feels better about himself. *Name and image changed for client confidentiality

 

THE book

As part of Fegans’ commitment to supporting young people, we have produced a book that is all about you. It’s your personal place to write down what you want out of life, your rules, your relationships, and how you can go about acheiving your dreams. Written by Fegans’ Counsellor Georgina Cuthbertson, we discuss what you can do to help yourself in emotional and mental wellbeing. Click here to buy a copy for £5 + PP. Schools and organisations can order in bulk for a discounted rate.

How to find 'Seasons of Change'

Tunbridge Wells Art Gallery and Museum, Mount Pleasant Road, Royal Tunbridge Wells, TN1 1JN

Seasons of Change