You will get through it: the best and worst advice for depression

During a difficult time a few years ago, a nurse advised me to be kind to myself. I had to really think about what this meant; I realized that meant doing whatever little thing felt good while lying in bed if I wanted, not doing much if I felt like it, and definitely taking time off from work. I started to really get used to it, which meant I could identify little feelings of relief, like the feeling of pressing my cheek against a pillow, and from there I was able to get back up on my feet again. .
Faith Liversedge, 47, Edinburgh

My friend told me to focus on what you are doing rather than the next task. Basically, get up and take a shower but don’t start thinking ahead to what’s going to happen later at work, just in the next half hour. It sounds obvious but in the end, it’s about presence and mindfulness.
Jo, 39, Stockport

During a depressive episode, I was needlessly asked to eat rainbows. At this point I can barely be bothered with baking bread, let alone preparing a colorful meal. Still, I smiled and then tore through the package of Skittles left in my mailbox by a co-worker.
Helen, Bristol

My super health guest discovered my worsening postpartum depression. She advised me to seek therapy for the trauma I had experienced as a child, and I was also willing to try antidepressants as a way to be kind to myself, to help me cope. with everyday life, because therapy is not an immediate solution. . I’m very grateful for her advice. I had no idea how heavy the burden I had carried my entire life was until I went through therapy. Same with antidepressants: I just don’t think they’re an option. It’s important for people to know that they can be used as a temporary measure to help you get through difficult times.

Ten years ago, I went through a life-changing episode of depression, during which I required six months of inpatient care. The worst advice I received was to take a shower. I really want to die and hate showering. It’s completely absurd. The best advice comes from my sister: When you’re going through hell, keep going.
Jude, 48, Devon

In August 2010, I suffered from severe depression due to work, leading to a breakdown. The worst advice I ever received was from my boss. The next worst thing was the CBT (cognitive behavioral therapy) online course prescribed by my doctor. I had to go to a local medical center and sit in a small room, alone in front of a computer, answering multiple choice questions about how I was feeling and how I would react to different situations. The best thing I did was get a puppy. That ball of energy and love got me outdoors again and excited about life. Without that focus, I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t be here today.

I was advised to exercise, especially jogging, and the doctor said it was mandatory because the antidepressants would make me gain weight. Not only did I find that worry wasn’t the most pressing thing at the time, but it also made me worry about not exercising. Finally, I became much more active by joining the tag rugby team. The community spirit has lifted me even more and, importantly, I feel better.
Joo Sousa, 33, Glasgow

When I had severe postpartum depression in the 1980s, my GP told me to calm down, you’re not the only woman having babies. Of course this didn’t help anything and just made me feel much worse. I was really upset when my daughter received the same advice from her family doctor in 2010.

To me, most advice from mental health professionals is pretty unhelpful. Many variations on journaling, mindfulness activities, and others may be more effective for less severe cases. Oddly, the thing that helped the most was giving up gluten, which my sister suggested. It had a greater impact on my mood than the five different antidepressants I was prescribed, even though I still took them.
Rachel Vallely, 24, Sheffield

The best advice I received was from a therapist who told me that you need to stay in Status (Sleep, Water, Exercise and Diet) to avoid depression, as well as Minimize caffeine and alcohol. It made me realize that the times I managed my depression were when I exercised regularly, which included staying hydrated and maintaining a healthier diet, which helped me sleep better on a daily basis. night.
Dave Torsney, 39, Armadale

The main problem I had was that most of the advice I received required me to expend a lot of energy. A person with severe depression has no energy left to spend or at least, this is their belief. I always feel ridiculed by these suggestions: force yourself to get out of bed, go for a walk, exercise. Even going to the doctor or pharmacy to pick up an antidepressant often feels like climbing Mount Everest.

Illustration of depression
Illustration: Darren Espin/The Guardian

CBT changed my life. It was like stepping out of a deep, dark hole. It had a terrible impact on my relationship with my mother, as it became clear where my problems began, but it freed me from a life of low self-esteem and the need to speak up. Agree. Saying no is now easy; sometimes a little too easy.
Mark, 56, Cranleigh

The worst advice I ever received was from a doctor in Harley Street who started randomly listing the good things in life, Sound of Music style, one of which was potatoes grill. I didn’t see him again. A few years later, when I was moving between services, an NHS mental health worker said to me: You’ll get over it when you retire. I was in my late 20s at the time.
Natalie, 41, Somerset

While trying to recover from my illness, I spent a lot of time at the local beach. I find being outside and near the water very calming. One day I was chatting with the owner of a local surf school and my situation came up. Go surfing, he says, it will set you right. Best advice I’ve ever had. I spent about 12 months teaching myself to surf and eventually became more proficient. It has given me focus, mindfulness, and therapy all in one.
Steve, 60, Devon

Just be happy. Three useless words. An edict that only succeeds in arousing feelings of deprivation, alienation and failure. If three words really are your limit, I might ask for Help, Thanks for sharing, I’m so sorry, It gets better, You’re not alone, I’m always here. Can I even get a cup of tea? overcome unconscious brutality Just be happy.
Elizabeth OMahoney, corn wall

I have been depressed for 20 years. During my treatment on the NHS, I was taught to have a safe place in my mind, to remember times when I felt happy and alone. For me it’s the orange groves in California.

This really benefits me in the long run. When I feel overwhelmed, I find somewhere to sit, close my eyes, and think about my safe place. I remember what the sky was like, the birds, the space around me and why I was happy.
Paul Turner, 52, Toulouse, France

Go. Because. A. Run. It works. It’s very difficult to get dressed and go out there. But when I start running, my brain shuts down, which is good. When I run, I just focus on running. Not about problems, kids, family. Just me and my breath and the beauty around me. Then the endorphins kicked in and within a few hours I was devastated.
Cecile Jacques, 47, Surrey

I was listening to a podcast that mentioned Wim Hof ​​and his breathing exercises. I found his cold water exposure and breath-holding exercises very helpful. They gave me the right to get up and go to work instead of just moping around the house. Now I start every day with a cold shower.
Bill Byrne, 48, Ely

I suffered from teenage depression and my GP took me off work for four weeks. He asked for an inventory of all the museums in our local city and I was afraid he would ask me so I visited them all. I am now in my 60s and I still remember those visits: they took me away from the things that were filling my mind in such a devastating way.

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