I think that everyone will be affected by mental illness in their lifetimes, be it their own personal suffering, or the suffering of someone they know. It seems to be so much more prevalent these days than generations before; I don’t think it’s because more people are getting sick now, I think it’s just because more people are getting help, which is awesome.
But, there are some days that you’re not so keen on talking about your crap to other people and you’d rather help yourself. Everyone has things that work for them; these are the things that work for me when I’m having a bit of a blue day…
1. Marley cuddles
Most people who struggle with depression generally know when they wake up if it’s a good day or not; I do, anyway. If it’s a good day, I’m usually out of bed and going for a walk or doing some weight training. If it’s not such a good day, Marley usually knows and makes himself very available for a cuddle. Studies have also shown that hugging a pet can help with depression, so grab your fur baby and snuggle it first thing in the morning before you even try to deal with the day!
2. Braided hair
I’ve always loved braiding my hair; I think maybe because it takes some time and forces me to slow down for a few minutes. On those days where I feel particularly crap and revolting, even a little side braid pretties up an otherwise boring ponytail exponentially and makes you feel a little better, especially when people comment on how nice your hair looks. It’s like my own little self-love ritual : )
3. Security-blanket clothes
I know it’s not a real term, but it’s one that I use a lot. My security blanket clothes are the clothes that I feel good in. They’re the ones that don’t make me feel self-conscious because they’re tight fitting or brightly coloured or too over the top. They’re pieces like my old, torn, blue jeans, my hooded red flannelette shirt, my over-sized white striped t-shirt, my denim shorts, my Hogwarts cardigan from London, my black and white long-sleeved floral printed swing dress, my brown leather lace up boots or my chucks. Crap day = wear a security-blanket piece.
Exercise is always recommended for people struggling with depression, but it doesn’t always have to be intense exercise; walking will do just fine, and I walk every day. Some days it’s a 5km walk before work with the husband and the fur baby. Some days it’s an after dinner stroll. Some days it’s getting off the train a few stations early and walking to the office the long way. Some days it’s all of the above. Even when you feel like absolute shit, fresh air is so, so important.
5. Lunch break cuppa & read
Pretty much every day. I cannot be stuck in an office all day, every day; I don’t know how other people do it. I eat my lunch at my desk while I’m working, and spend my lunch break most days drinking tea and reading a book at a cafe. I know it’s a bit of a waste to pay for tea when it’s just boiled water, a splash of milk and a tea bag, but I look at it more as investing a few dollars rent each day into my well being. If a $4 cup of tea and time to read is what’s gonna get me through the day, that’s not a waste of money. At the same time, that’s also why I always BYO lunch!
There are a few things I never leave the house without having in my handbag; a notepad and pen, a book to read, and my iPod. Music has always been incredibly important to me and has always played a big part in my life. I listen to my iPod on the way to and from work, and all day at work – on a bad day, the silence is too painful, especially in a big office. My go-to playlist is a compilation of a few Trombone Shorty albums, a few Rebirth Brass Band albums, the Treme soundtracks, and a few other random New Orleans jazz tunes. Works every. Single. Time.
7. Easy dinner
I love cooking; it relaxes me. But on the days where the disordered eating and food-related anxiety is at a horrible high, having food prepared and ready to go after dinner is so important. For that reason, I have a freezer full of frozen meals – once a week, I make a meal that is cheap and easy to cook in bulk and freeze, like my 6 ingredient fried rice. That way, if I wake up and know it’s gonna be a hard one, I just have to take dinner our of the freezer to defrost while I’m at work and it’s ready to be re-heated when I get home.
Always. Every single day. I have since the day I learnt to write, I will until my old fingers can no longer hold a pen.