Dealing with Depression: Useless Tips You’ve Heard Before and What to do Instead

    Dealing with Depression
    “Blurred portrait…” © vicspacewalker.

    I’m not a doctor. In fact, the only knowledge of medicine I have is from being a patient; but we don’t have to be doctors to self-diagnose depression: fatigue, appetite changes, mood changes, the knot in your stomach, and the urge to cry so hard you lose your breath. Maybe you do cry, and maybe you feel better afterwards, but the pain comes back again. So — what do you do about it?

    If you’re anything like me, you want to avoid doctor’s visits at all costs — especially if the issue relates to mental health. I hate the scale; I hate when they don’t make eye contact; I hate when they recommend medication. There’s also the fear they’ll think I’m crazy and have me committed. No, thank you. I first experienced a severe bout of depression when I was nineteen. What did I do? I went to the doctor. I poured out my heart, soul, and tears to my doctor only to leave with a list of advice. If this sounds familiar at all, you know the “advice” I’m talking about.

    Change your circumstances.

    This one is my favorite. This places the blame on you and your environment. You’re living in the wrong house; you’re with the wrong partner; you have the wrong job; you need more friends. The list goes on. There is no effort to dig deeper and discover the true problem. “Try these things. Have a wonderful day.” Yes, this has happened to me; and it may have happened to you too. Unfortunately for me, I’m a pushover. I smile, nod, and thank them as I leave the building even though I’m cursing in my head. Then, I spend the drive home fantasizing about telling them off.

    What I say

    If you know your circumstances are causing the problem, of course, you should change them; but, if you could fix it on your own, you wouldn’t be asking a doctor for help, would you? If I knew buying that log cabin in the mountains would fix my meltdowns, I would’ve put the money I spent on the doctor’s visit into my dreamhouse fund.

    There is a reason that “laughter is the best medicine” is a saying. It’s because it’s true. Watching a funny movie, reading a funny story, or spending time with that one goofy friend who always makes you laugh are great ways to jumpstart a better mood. No, they don’t always work. At my lowest of lows, I tried all of these things multiple times over with no luck. The good news is, by the time I read a book and watched three movies, it was time for bed. They got me through that one day, and that’s all I needed at the time.

    Find a new hobby.

    Blah. The only hobby I go out of my way to make time for is writing. I’m sorry, but when I’m feeling like crap and contemplating my reason for existence, the last thing I want to do is take on fly fishing or pottery making. This advice makes me sigh heavily and roll my eyes. I don’t know what your schedule looks like, but I have a lot on my plate. When I’m feeling down, and all I want to do is lie on the couch and watch The Notebook, you’re wasting your breath if you think you’re going to convince me to go hobby shopping. You go find a hobby, Doc. I’m out.

    What I say

    Lie on the couch and watch The Notebook — or some other tearjerker. It might sound odd, but sometimes the tears get stuck. This is my go-to movie when I need to cry, and the tears just won’t come out on their own. A good cry really can provide some relief. I’ve lost track of how many times I’ve watched this movie, but it makes me cry — every — single — time. If tear-jerking movies aren’t your thing, or if you have trouble stopping the tears, try my advice from the previous tip.

    Diet and exercise.

    This one makes me laugh — loudly. Sure, healthier food choices and brisk walks improve our health, and our moods are part of our health; but, if you think I’m getting off the couch to eat kale and join a gym, maybe I’m not the one with the issues. When I feel like I might just die from heartache, diet and exercise are enemies; and anyone who recommends them are enemies in my book. I want pie, and exercise can go to hell.

    What I say

    I’m supposed to tell you to eat fruits and vegetables, and you certainly should; but who wants to snack on lettuce leaves when their world is ending? You don’t have the energy to worry about body image right now. Comfort food provides energy, so eat it. No, I’m not trying to make you fat. You don’t have to eat pie or any other dessert, for that matter. If your comfort food is strawberries or carrots, way to go for staying healthy at a time like this. If it’s chocolate cream pie, I’ll help you eat it. If we put on a few pounds, so be it. We can always lose the added pounds once we heal on the inside, and isn’t it the inside that counts?

    Final thoughts

    On a serious note, I may not understand everything you’re feeling, but I know some of it. Some people experience severe depression that can be dangerous. If you find yourself wondering why you’re alive or the thought of dying sounds appealing, it’s time to seek professional help. I know. When you’re so overwhelmed by emotions that you’re in physical pain, the last thing you want is to talk about it in depth or write it down in a journal. If you feel let down by your doctor, find another. Keep searching until you find the doctor that understands you.

    One thing to keep in mind is that depression is part of being human. Some people get over it pretty quickly on their own while others live with it daily. Maybe you’re not where you want to be in life; maybe a loved one passed away; or maybe you don’t even know why you’re hurting. The point is no matter what steps you take, whether it’s moving to a new city, making new friends, writing in a journal, taking medication, or buying a bunch of random crap from infomercials, depression will be there lurking in the background. How you deal with it is what counts.

    What useless tips have you heard before? Be sure to let me know in the comments.

    Candidly yours,

    Irene

    Copyright © 2021-2024 Irene Bratton

    Plain-language Required Disclaimer:

    I am not a medical or legal professional. The information in this article is based solely on personal experience and my honest opinion. This article should not be considered either medical or legal advice, and may or may not be appropriate for your specific situation, the details of which are totally unknown to me.

    Accordingly, I cannot take responsibility for any adverse event which might occur if you choose to follow the advice given, in whole or in part, which you do at your own risk. Consider it “food for thought” rather than expert guidance.

    Please seek a qualified medical or legal practitioner for a professional assessment of your exact circumstances if your health, safety, and/or some other important aspect of your life is involved.

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