Depression is a topic I have wanted to speak about for a long while now. I have touched on it in my other blogs but really want to give it a different slant now that I have found, for me, the right balance.
In less than a year I have turned my mental health around and I really want to write this post for all of you out there who battle with what is STILL a bit of a taboo subject.
Are you stuck? Do you have trouble sleeping? Do you feel like you are losing your mind? Does life feel like you are in a permanent fog?
I understand. I have felt the same way.
Writing this in 2016 I have made some breakthroughs with my mental health and I would love to share them with you:
My route to depression recovery
Step One – Talk to somebody
When my doctor diagnosed me with Bipolar Depression years ago I didn’t really pay much attention to it. I have never been one to enjoy labels anyway!
I didn’t think anything of it until I went back to see him last year and he mentioned it again. He offered anti-depressants and some CBT group work and that was it.
I contacted my source of wisdom, my coach Michelle Zelli. She is my go-to person for advice. We chatted through options and decided that the best course of action for me was to do some Emotional Detox Work.
I am not going to go into it now BUT I will say that looking at my perception of problems and the reasons behind why I act the way I do made huge headway into improving my mental health.
Sometimes, just simply talking to someone makes a huge difference. Picking someone who understands mental health is one of my top recommendations.
There are also books that you can read – I found Sharon Eden’s book a great help.
(I have included links at the bottom of this post so that if you need urgent help right NOW then you can take action)
Step Two – Clean up your diet
I don’t like the expression ‘clean eating’. It is too vague. One person’s version of clean may be another’s version of junk.
Can you to take a good look at your everyday diet? See where you can add/remove foods that will make a difference to how you feel.
- Lots of sugar, refined and processed foods, alcohol and caffeine may affect your mood and sleep – leading to highs and lows during the day and insomnia at night.
- Including lots of colourful vegetables, moderate quantities of protein and lots of healthy fat may work to improve your mood day-to-day. Limit your caffeine intake to before 1pm as that has shown to really promote restful sleep too.
Step Three – Move
One of the hardest things you can do when you feel depressed is MOVE. I understand. You just want to sit on the couch and binge-watch Netflix.
Binge-watching Netflix is fine from time to time as long as it doesn’t become a habit.
My one of great friends Jean-Pierre de Villiers is a highly respected motivational speaker. He puts movement right up there as a priority in his day, and the days of his clients. He knows how powerful movement is.
If you are struggling to move then just going for a simple 5 minute walk can help shift your state. It is how I started moving again and it led me to walk further and further every day. The fresh air, the lack of stress, the freedom all contribute to a feeling of well-being.
Just this simple act of starting walking led to the even bigger shift in how I felt….RUNNING.
Running away from depression
I want to clarify that I am not talking about running away from your problems – more that you are moving from feeling down and depressed to happier and more positive.
Running has quite literally changed my life.
I got back into it again last year once I had gone through the various stages above.
I started really small – I took an old running journal and tweaked it. I was careful not to do too much too soon and avoided setting goals (too much pressure and mental health don’t mix).
I soon remembered the great feeling that running gave me – my head cleared and I felt positive after every run. This feeling increased the more my body became familiar with the habit of running.
Eventually I had got myself up to running 5 kilometres and I decided to enter my local parkrun which is a timed 5k run every Saturday morning. I was so nervous I got there too early but I needn’t have been, everyone was so friendly. It gave me another indication of how my running was helping with depression – I found a sense of community and belonging.
The next step was to join a local running club – I didn’t want one that was competitive (I like to run for fun!) so I joined an incredible club called BeaRCats – they have an incredibly supportive bunch of members who all look out for each other. No one gets left behind. Caitlin Limmer who runs the club is one of the most inspiring, funny and friendly people I have ever met – her ethos creates runners who care about others.
If you are thinking about running and you suffer from depression then joining a really friendly club will avoid loneliness and promote new life-long friendships and support.
I am now up to running half marathon distance and loving it. When I go out on a long run it feels like moving meditation to me. I get lost in the pattern of my steps, the sights and sounds of nature around me and I always end my run feeling better than when I started.
Running has become a tonic for me.
I WOULD like to mention that running doesn’t cure depression and I ask you to PLEASE be mindful that you don’t over-exercise. If you are already running and have set yourself constant high goals and expectations then you may become overwhelmed and stop enjoying the very reason you started running in the first place.
There is no current cure for depression and it may pop into your life in the future BUT…. using the steps above has really helped me become more positive, have better focus, have 100% more balance, enjoy my day-to-day life and meet some like-minded friends.
I would love to hear from you with any comments on what you have read – if you have anything to add then comment below. I have a feeling I shall be adding to and tweaking this blog post for years to come.
With love and understanding
Depression is a serious issue. Please get help from someone. If you are in the UK then call The Samaritans and chat with someone straight away. If you are in the US then Mental Health America are a great resource. Please feel free to add links in the comments below for other countries and I can edit this post to include them.