When you are struck with a depressive episode you need to act quickly and decisively while remaining patient with yourself. Which is exactly what you cannot do, when stuck in depression or anxiety. Thanks, life.
Making decisions becomes incredibly hard. That’s why it is really helpful to have someone to guide you and make decisions for you. You need a solid action plan to move you out of the rut you’re stuck in. Unfortunately when you are depressed you lack the ability to come up with such an action plan. That is why i compiled this list of simple and effective steps to help you regain control over your life. I had quite a share of depressive episodes in my life and i can confirm they do work! Muster any hope and power you have left and just do them. Don’t question whether they could work or not. Just do it. Get moving. Now!
Before we jump into the list, let’s make one thing crystal clear. A real depression is not to be taken lightly, neither by you nor your environment. It is not a “mood problem” that will just blow over in some weeks. A real depression which is left untreated has a lethality through suicide between 20-30% (!!!), depending on age, gender, general situation, and resources. That is as much as untreated cholera, and a therefore a serious threat to your life. This means, if you don’t get professional help, your death inflicted by your own hands is a very probable outcome. We don’t want that. Get help, ASAP! If you are not capable to find an available therapist on your own, ask someone who’s close to you to help you. This list and my tips will give you a leg up, and give you some tools to handle depression better, but it is not enough to solve it. Professional help, in combination with medication, is absolutely vital.
So much for starters, let’s get into the list:
1. Mood enhancing substances are a big NO-NO.
The title basically says it all. With mood enhancing substances i mean every drug or substance that makes you feel better, definitely including alcohol and weed. Any drug influencing your serotonin receptors like Ecstasy, MDMA, and most psychedelic drugs can be your death sentence. I am not joking. I know from my own experience that the temptation to seek temporary relief is really strong, but it is not worth it, trust me. When the effect wears off, you have to pay it back, at least double. And this is where it gets seriously dangerous. The hangover will push you to an even deeper level of suffering, one that you might not be able to bear. The urge to quit this whole thing through suicide will be stronger than ever. That’s why I want you, to stay with your situation and mood as it is, no matter how bad it feels right now. Please do not make it worse. Trust me, there is always worse.
2. Take an ice-cold shower.
This is a sustainable, healthy instant relief. When your brain feels like it is going to implode and / or explode within the next few minutes, take an ice-cold shower. Get off your bed or couch and get your ass under some freezing water. This will slow down the depressive thinking process and connect you with your body. Also this releases a bunch of stimulating hormones and brain-transmitters which will lighten the depressive shade in your perception. Very useful for medium-time relief and emergency .
3. Avoid low blood sugar at all cost.
As soon as you get up in the morning, eat something. Do it quick. The best is high-fat, high-protein and slow-carb food. If nothing of the like is at hand, anything will suffice at first. Just eat something with a bunch of calories in it and make sure you stay well supplied all the time, but avoid too sugary food. Low blood sugar makes depressive symptoms much worse. Your ability to decide and think straight will get even more shitty and your mood will drop to a next-level low. Avoid low blood sugar at all cost. Even unhealthy food is better than no food.
4. Get out of the house.
No matter where you go exactly, just move. You’re mind and body will try to hold you back. Don’t listen and muster any force you have left, to kick your ass out the front door and start walking somewhere. Preferably somewhere that involves nature and green vegetation. A park for example is perfect. Breath in as much air as you can. You cannot resolve a depression by thinking. Especially not if you are stuck in reoccurring thinking cycles in your room where the walls seem to close in on you. That’s why we need to get you out of your head and into your body.
5. Reach out to people who you trust.
Literally call them for help, either on the phone or by this outdated communication channel called talking face-to-face. Explain your situations and your feelings. Tell them that you are stuck in a black hole and that you need some emotional support. They won’t be able to solve your depression, but this will keep you from spiralling down any further. Hugs and any other form of “being there for you” is good.
6. Use moments of silver linings for introspection.
Being depressed or anxious is usually not a 24/7 fulltime job, even though it might feel like it. Usually there are at least some moments in the day where you don’t feel like a dense, solid block of misery but more like a soft, fluffy ball of misery. This is the perfect time for some productive introspection. Introspection, not to be confused with rumination, is really one of the main keys to overcome depression, but it needs time and if you overdo it, you will spin your wheels in the same thought circles over and over again. Which sucks.
Trust me, i made that mistake about a million times (as of November 2018). In light doses however, introspection can be quite enlightening and relieving. So pick one: writing your thoughts down, talking to a trusted person about your feelings, or my personal favourite, meditation. By the way, I have written a long-ass article about meditation and its enormous benefits, especially when depressed or anxious. Check it out: here.
7. Prepare for the next day.
In the morning it is usually the worst, at least in my experience. Be prepared for that. Take it slow but don’t get stuck. Be nice to yourself but don’t be too lazy. Have a simple morning routine of eating, showering, talking to someone and make plans for the day on the day before. This will give you something to hold onto. Free, unstructured time can break your neck, especially if you’re by yourself. Don’t swing the pendulum to far to this end though, the last thing you need is more stress caused by a tight time schedule.
8. Fuck everybody who says that depression isn’t real.
Depression is as real as a broken leg, and even more painful. Unfortunately it is much less obvious. That makes it dangerous and tricky. If you encounter people who don’t take your depression serious, fuck ’em. Please don’t go overboard with it and tell everybody how depressed you are and that you deserve special rights and treatment now. That’s not what i meant. Give yourself the space and treatment you would give to someone with a serious physical injury. Protect your boundaries against outside forces that deny you this space.
9. You are not alone in this.
I don’t dare to end this article with an empty appeal to hope or phrases like “Stay strong”, “Don’t give up hope”. But one thing is certain: Many people struggle with depression. You are not alone in this trial by fire. That’s a fact. Many of the people in your position emerge from this shrouded valley as a wiser, more capable human. It is possible, i have done it, as many others did. You can do it too. And then you can start a blog about depression and help others overcome theirs. Not so bad, eh?
10. Feel free to shoot me an E-mail anytime!
If you need more detailed advice or just some emotional bystanding, venture to the Contact form and send me a message! I will read it and respond in time, promised. 🙂
11. Print this emergency sheet.
Print the emergency sheet i have added at the end of this article and put it somewhere, where you can see it everyday. If depression strikes, you will know what to do. You will have some solid guidelines to prevent the worst. This will give you a decent heads up, and enables you, to take back control over your life.
You got this, big boy!
Free Download: Depression Emergency Guide
Thanks for reading!
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Here are some more links, to articles I deem very important for life.