If you are unlucky enough to break an arm or a leg, you’ll need a plaster cast to protect it and allow your body to do its amazing work of inner healing.
It’s the same if you fall ill with depression. Something has crashed. Something is broken.
Here’s my plaster cast to allow yourself time and protection while your body (in this case your mind) builds itself back up to normal strength again.
- Keep a spreadsheet. Score your moods out of ten, morning, afternoon and evening. Record hours sleep, alcohol, tablets you take and when. Monitor your illness with a quasi-scientific analysis. It helps objectivize it, giving you more detachment. You are reminded that depression is not your identity – it`s just an illness to be treated as such.
- Go for a 20+ mins walk at least once a day.
- Stick to rhythms of meals and bedtimes – even if you don’t feel like it.
- Take positive steps to love yourself: join a club; throw away a packet of cigarettes; order some supplements online; buy a funny book or magazine; ring someone for a chat; update your Facebook page or blog; plan a city break.
- Talk things over with a therapist. You can book online from national consortia of practitioners without long waiting times. Prices can be as low as £30 – £40 per session. Therapists often offer a free introductory session.
- Talk everything over with God. (This is always free!) As you pray, your perspectives will change and become his perspectives.
- Count your blessings. Think about them one by one, big and small and say a prayer of thanks for each one This may be hard at first – especially on your darkest days – but stick with it. It is great cognitive therapy to help realign rampaging chemical neurotransmitters and bring them back into harmony.
- Don’t drink alcohol, eat a rich meal or smoke past 9pm. Once in a while is ok,, and good for dopamine etc, as long as you´re getting good healthy sleep most other times.
- Don’t watch TV or a computer screen beyond 10.30 pm if possible.
- Follow a pattern of night-time rituals for coming down from the day and into bed. This sends signals to you brain that it is time for descending into sleepiness.
- Use calming mantras. ‘He gives his beloved sleep.’ ‘Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace whose mind is set on thee. ’ ‘The joy of the Lord is your strength. ’ ‘It will not come near you. ’ ‘I believe that I shall see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. ’
- Plan a mini-project every two or three days – and follow through: putting up a shelf, weeding a flower bed, taking clothes for recycling, writing a piece for a blog, painting a room, sorting out bank accounts. Thinking about the activity, planning, doing it, the satisfaction of achievement afterwards will give you positive feelings – at least the beginnings of…
- Target neurostransmitters with various powerful supplements. Keep experimenting until you find the right ones for you, singly or in combination: 5-HTP, Tyrosine, Phenylalanine, GABA, SAM-e. It will depend how much your depression is typical (melancholy), a-typical (extreme listlessness), or mixed with anxiety (jitteriness, tension, panic attacks). L-Theanine is proving more and more popular as a non-prescription anti-depressant with almost no known side-effects.
- Take old-school sleeping aids (the earliest antihistamines such as Doxylamine Succinate and Diphenhydramine) rather than prescription sleeping tablets. Even though they are non-addictive, try the lowest dose first, even a quarter tablet. You can build up from there.
- Take vitamin B complex supplements every other day.
- Drink plenty of water every day – even if you don’t feel like it. Don’t take a lot last thing at night (to reduce toilet calls).
- Believe it is your right to enjoy health and happiness.
- Develop your inner natural drive to seek pleasure wherever and as much as you can squeeze out of this life.
- Think twice before taking prescription anti-depressants. (They do seem to help some people though.)
- Don’t ever give up.