TIPS FOR COPING WITH THE BAD TIMES
AN OLD ARTICLE FROM THE SE15 MAGAZINE - SHARED WITH LOVE TO THOSE WHO HAVE STRUGGLED WITH DEPRESSION AND ANXIETY DURING LOCKDOWN
These are not really tips as such (we are all different) but just some thoughts on my current experiences of depression and anxiety. I am 62 and have a 'label of chronic depression but had always functioned reasonably well, holding down a full-time job, etc. Last August returning to work after a two week holiday I went into meltdown. I know doctors don't use the term 'breakdown’ but that's exactly what it was. I had a fairly disastrous return to work just before Christmas and have not worked since and have begun the process of retirement. Here is what I wanted to share:
The meltdown was sudden but getting better seems so slow. I have good days and bad days. I try to focus on the positives which is hard as the negative feelings seem much stronger.
There are different views on medication, I know, but I have found anti-depressants helpful. I would not hesitate to take 'tablets’ for a physical problem so why not for a mental health one? If you are prescribed anti-depressants remember they take time to work and suddenly stopping them can be disastrous.
I try to set achievable goals each day, polishing all my shoes might sound fairly boring but it meant I was not just giving up.
Really difficult when all you see is 'happy’ people around but trying to go out each day is good. I sometimes thought everybody in the shops was looking at me but this is London and people don't do that!
Avoid over-thinking (doctors call it ruminating). Trying to work out what had gone wrong for me did more harm than good. I didn't have loads of support but looking back on the last few months if I had had maybe 10 people a day ringing up asking 'How are you Bob?’ I think that would have driven me even more 'crazy’ than I was!
Avoid illicit drugs and alcohol. As my mum used to say 'you never find the answer at the bottom of a glass’.
I have found things like jigsaws (easy ones!) a lifeline. They are expensive but charity shops often stock them. Word games can be good: I recommend word chums on line. It's basically like Scrabble but the Chumbots are cool and make silly noises if you score a good word or your opponent does.
Online or in leaflets there is plenty of advice about diet, sleep and excercise. I have singularly failed to join a gym or go swimming so it's a case here of ‘do what I say‘ not 'do what I do!’ Seriously the body and mind are linked so caring for the body has benefits for the mind.
Several times when I was very distressed I called the Samiritans who were fantastic. You don't need to be suicidal to ring them.
Don't want to end with platitudes or cliches but, in closing, I would say if you are going through what seems (and is) scary and dark you need patience and to stop beating yourself up.