A few things that have helped me out over the past few months
I’ve been looking back at the last year and how I spent my time, and I wanted to put down all the advice I’ve got and the things that helped me…. I imagine your mileage will vary.
If counselling is available to you, take it. Seeing a counsellor over the past year was indescribably helpful. I think part of it is it helps you focus and clarify – if you have fifty minutes to talk through your problems with someone else, you’re going to prioritise. Also, it helps you to put your finger on your problem and forces you to vocalise what’s wrong internally – thinking “How would I describe what I’m feeling to another person?” can help you look at what’s troubling you in a new way, and solutions to problems can appear!
I know it sounds cheesy, but laughing really is good for you… it relieves tension and your brain releases endorphins… try to laugh at something at least once a day. I think good comedy gives you perspective as well.
It feels good to make stuff. Not necessarily anything elaborate, or even good. Just try to make something you can appreciate; a poem, a blog, a meal, a joke, a doodle… express yourself or just make something that you’ll enjoy or you’ll enjoy the process of making.
I’ve gotten so much out of volunteering for the past year it’s been unreal. A lot of my feelings of depression come from perceived inadequacies and a sense of worthlessness, but spend an afternoon lending a hand to a charity and see how grateful people are. It’s a pretty good esteem builder, plus you get to meet people and give back and what not… why not give it a try, even for a couple of hours a week?
The most important advice I can give is to be honest, even if only with yourself. Are you in trouble? Do you need help? Are you likely to regret what you’re doing? I think the brain is very good at fooling itself, we blind ourselves to so much every day, filtering out unwanted noise and outside messages without even realising it. You can easily let yourself believe things are better than they are, maybe try writing down your problems. You don’t have to show anyone, just be true to yourself.
Try and discover something interesting every day. There’s a wealth of resources open to us today and some truly ground-breaking work being done in just about every field. Finding something that amazes or inspires you may be surprisingly easy, and it’s important to stay connected to the world.
There are many other lists out there full of good, practical advice for people with depression. Fellow blogger Greta has recently posted one on this very site – I suggest you take a look. I hope you’ve taken something away from the list, but to be honest the main reason I wanted to do this list was to post the following links, which have helped me no end.
http://tinyurl.com/darkvid – OK, so I know I posted to the Maria Bamford Show last in my last post, but you seriously have to check out this video. As well as being reassuring and full of great advice for the depressed, it’s funny, catchy and brilliantly produced. Bamford’s so willing to throw herself into every character, it’s like The Muppet Show but with one woman, a pug and no muppets.
http://tinyurl.com/rrmuppets – The last few months I’ve become a serious Muppet fan. I’ve always loved Labyrinth and the creatures from the original Star Wars movies and what have you, but the original Muppet Show came out over a decade before I was born. Of course, I loved Sesame Street as a kid, but only saw the movie a few months ago – it’s excellent! The Muppet show is probably the best though, as it’s basically a bunch of performers with various personal flaws struggling to put a show on every week, and at best only barely succeeding. If you think about the cast they are generally pretty messed up; Fozzie’s constantly trying to better his act but still fails to win the muppet award for “funniest comedy performance by a bear,” the Great Gonzo is a true avant-garde perfectionist misunderstood by everyone around him and Kermit is the eternally put-upon straight man, trying to keep everything running smoothly but constantly forced bow to various pressures. If it was people it would just be a bunch of screw-ups putting on a terrible show every week, but instead there’s genuine warmth and affection between the cast, even with the infighting and explosions and karate chops. I really can’t overstate how great the original show is, which is why I’ve posted the link to my favourite Muppet act. Crystal Gayle’s not a singer I’m familiar with, nor is she my favourite host (why, that would be Chris Langham, thank you for asking!) but the bit really showcases what’s great about the show; DIY ethos, corny jokes, catchy musical numbers, characters exposing themselves as being foolish and endeavours being poorly thought out, the utter willingness to completely change principles in a split second, fantastic puppet work and, most importantly, a huge sense of fun. Plus, look at the fantastic detail; the way the dog goes from behaving like a regular dog to dancing on it’s hind legs, the fact that the guy in the baseball cap is carrying a bindle, the convict’s outfit, the way everyone sings along after the diminuendo, the pig in the suit… it’s probably the pinnacle of 20th century art. Well, that and Wallace and Gromit.
http://smodcast.com/stevedave – Finally, I posted a link to a smashing podcast featuring these guys (Walt “Fanboy” Flanagan and Bryan “Steve-Dave” Johnson, both of whom you may recognise if you’re famliar with movies of Kevin Smith) waaaay early on in the academic year, but now they’re going it alone (with a little help later on) and it’s incredible. I don’t know what it is about the dynamic that’s so engrossing, or why so many people with depression have written in and said it’s helping them, but I love these guys. Have a listen, seeing as it’s free and all, but to try and describe the relationship… these are two guys who have known each other for over thirty years, but they differ on almost every topic, so it’s basically an hour of bickering with genuine affection, with each guy simultaneously defending and prosecuting. It’s engrossing, and I get why people feel connected, even if I am doing a terrible job of putting it into words. Listening to Bryan describing his depression to Walt on the sister podcast (http://tinyurl.com/SMod35) really helped me understand and come to terms with my own feelings, primarily because Walt almost refuses to understand the condition and/or let Bryan get away with having it. Sometimes talk of Bryan’s depression comes up, but you won’t get any better tips on how to deal with the illness than listening to the show itself.
Well, I guess that about does it for this week. I hope you take something away from this page, as these are all genuinely things that have made my condition a lot easier to deal with, and aren’t really all that hard to give a go to (otherwise I probably wouldn’t have done them).
Till next time, take care and have a great week!
Comment by Rees posted on Wed, 30/06/2010 23:24
Thanks for the kind words, Iona. Glad to have been a part of this fantastic project!
Comment by Iona posted on Wed, 30/06/2010 17:34
Rees, I just wanted to say thanks to all your contributions. You’ve been a really encouragement and support, writing lots of comments to keep us all going! I’ve enjoyed following your links and discovered comedy largely through you. Thanks!