Beating – or at least, learning to manage – depression and anxiety is a long-haul thing. There are many good treatments, like medication or therapy, but because mental illness is different for everyone who experiences it, finding the right combination and levels can be difficult – and even then, these treatments can take a long time to work, and their effects aren’t always consistent.
Sometimes the long-term, permanent measures aren’t going to help in a given situation, and you need short-term measures instead. It’s easy to reach for short-term measures that, in the long run, aren’t helpful at all – drinking when you’re anxious, for example. I’m trying to put together some short-term measures for dealing with depression and anxiety that aren’t harmful – things that can act like sticking plasters over the scratches and grazes of bad mental health, that will protect you until you get to a point where you can treat them properly. Here are some of mine:
I have a few songs that are my go-tos when my mood starts to dip. For depression, it’s Mr Blue Sky by ELO, because it’s one of the happiest damn things I’ve ever heard. For anxiety, it’s Uptown Funk, because that’s like an injection of 100%-proof confidence straight into your veins – you literally cannot feel shy or inadequate when that’s booming through your head.
It’s a pretty obvious remedy, but sometimes the old ones are the best. I always have a scented candle on the go (lavender, vanilla, and Christmas spice are amazingly calming), and I’ve also got some face washes that not only smell wonderful, but make my skin feel awesome too. Nice smells won’t fix a problem, but they’re incredibly comforting.
Looking at pictures of tiny babby animals may not cure depression, but it can be a distraction, and bring up some positive feelings where you thought none would ever be again (just like a nice smell, or a soft blanket). Here are two of my favourite places to go – Hourly Kitten and We Rate Dogs.
And on the subject of distraction – never underestimate the power of a good TV or book binge. When my depression was really severe, I used to mainline comedy shows, because they gave me something to focus on outside the flat heaviness in my brain – and because even a half-hearted laugh felt like a step in the right direction. Sometimes you just aren’t up to doing anything besides sitting, and being alone at home with a box set or every single Harry Potter book isn’t going to damage your health in the long term.
All of these sound trite, but like I said, they’re not supposed to be cures – just little things that lift the gloom or the pressure slightly, because sometimes that slightly is enough. If any of you have sticking plasters of your own that you’d like to share, the comments are open.