My 7 Steps
Updated: Aug 11, 2020
Firstly, I would like to highlight that the content within this may not help everyone. It is by no means proven with scientific evidence and is not any kind of dissertation, ain’t nobody got time for Harvard referencing. What it ishowever, is a series of pointers that could help you with your depression, devised through my personal experience and how I’m currently managing my ever changing mood.
I think it would be important to mention a little about my story, not too much of course, this is about helping you. Through understanding a bit about me, it could help you to relate a little more.
I’m a 27 year old male and I have depression and anxiety. I currently live at home with my parents and have done since 2016, after moving back from some travels. I studied Sport Management at uni and I currently work in retail, using that degree of course…
I have a wonderful girlfriend, an amazing family and I have managed to surround myself with a great group of friends, who throughout my struggle have been the most incredible support network. I would say that I have never really experienced any great adversity in my life time and have been quite fortunate. Which begs the question of ‘why do I feel so depressed?’ If you can relate in any way then I’m sure you’re probably asking this question to yourself on a daily basis. Why do I feel so shit? Sadly, the answer to that is, I don’t have a fucking clue. So the best I can do is work out how to make things easier for myself.
When it comes to my depression, I have worked out ways in which I can, or at least try, to control it. The anxiety on the other hand is a completely different kettle of fish so it seems!
If you have decided to read this, then I thank you greatly. I hope that in some way it can help you on your journey through depression, or just give you an insight into depression if you’re interested and need something to read. So on to the content and the first of seven steps in helping you deal with depression…..
..The classic cliche of accepting that you’ve got a problem. Either you are someone who simply does not enjoy life and really struggles with their mood, or you’re at the other end of the scale, where you regularly think about killing yourself. No matter your level of depression, it’s never too early or too late to accept that you may have a problem. It is the most important step of them all, you may think it’s a sign of weakness.. it’s a sign of strength. There is not much to this section and although it may seem small, for some it can feel like the most difficult step in the process..
..this takes me straight into my next point; talking. Steps one and two will probably make you think, ‘well yeah obviously’, but these are the two that some people find the hardest to do.
This can be tough, as you probably feel like people won’t understand, won’t know how to fix it, or how to deal with it.
It doesn’t matter who it is you reach out to, I can assure you, you will immediately start to feel better. Even if they don’t understand, you will feel a great release of pressure, knowing that you’ve accepted it and told someone. I started by questioning how I was feeling and then, when I was certain that I had an issue, I began to reach out. It started with my parents and then I sought after medical advice. Following this, I told my friends and the rest of my family. The more people I told, the bigger my support network became and the better I felt.
From there, it was a case of me having to speak to my work place. I had been signed off from work for a week and even during work I would sometimes implode and have to leave at a seconds notice. With this I had no choice but to speak to them. Naturally, I was really scared to do this. I thought they wouldn’t understand and would look to remove me from my position. My work place at that time was heavily male dominant. I had always found that speaking to men, as opposed to women, was so much harder. As men, we have been socially conditioned to be strong, both physically and mentally, therefore we seldom speak about our stresses or feelings, which is one of the main arguments as to why suicide is the biggest killer of men my age. I am very lucky in which this social construct has bared little weight in my life. I knew that I had an understanding and a caring family whom allowed me to talk my mind, be honest and be sensitive.
I really had no reason to be afraid of telling work. But how could I come forward to a fellow co-worker and male, who had maybe, been told to ‘man-up’ his entire life and tell him that I may need time away from grafting as I’m feeling low? Despite this, I decided to speak to the people necessary and the support they put in for me was incredible.
My one thought throughout the entire process was, and its something to always remember when it comes to work; if they as a workplace have no understanding and no support for mental health, then its probably not the best place to be working. Please don’t be afraid when approaching your workplace, or anyone for that matter. The right people will always be there to support you.
This section proved tough, I’ve rewritten this a few times and I could’ve given it its own blog.
At this point of my life, I had no idea what to do next. I’d spoken to people, gained a support network and informed my workplace, but I was still struggling. The next step in my journey, I came to realise, was to consider the use of medication. I spoke with my doctor and was, almost immediately, prescribed Sertroline, a common antidepressant. I don’t know the ins and outs of this medication, but after two months of severe diarrhoea and unexplained nausea it eventually kicked in. Although it felt great to feel positive again, it felt artificial and I quickly knew that it wasn’t for me. I realised that my recovery wasn’t about feeling better short term, it was about fixing the bigger picture. I stopped taking Sertroline roughly a month after it kicking in, which of course isn’t long enough to see it having it’s full effect and even my doctor recommended not coming off it so early. I did this, not because the medication wasn’t working, not because it was doing more harm than help, not because it wasn’t necessary, but because it did what I needed it to do. It allowed me to feel what I hadn’t felt in a long time. I had a happier, healthier outlook on life. However I knew that for my long term wellbeing, I needed this to come from me and not the medication.
My circumstances may have been different to yours, I guess I could say that my mental health wasn’t at a point of severe deterioration. What I would like to add is that my experience with medication and Sertroline, is in no way reflective of how you may work with it. Even those who have profound negative experiences of using medication cannot ignore that it saves lives. Despite it’s stigma and side effects, thats what matters most. There are also circumstances whereby people have a chemical imbalance within their brain, of which I do not have, meaning that medication is most definitely the best option. I will not go in to too much detail, because on this, I do not have much knowledge. I can only speak for my experience. My one bit of advice though, is to be open with the idea of medication and see how it can work for you. If it is something you feel benefits you significantly, then continue to do so. On the other hand, if medication is not your chosen route, or if like me you decide to stop taking it, then know your reasons behind this and be confident that these reasons are what your health needs most.
4. Diet and Exercise:
This one speaks for itself particularly on the exercise part. By this I don’t just mean go for a run, or go to the gym and lift some weights, because exercise has a broader meaning. Get out and do something, it doesn’t matter what sort of exercise you find yourself doing, the most important part is to enjoy it. If you don’t enjoy something, then naturally you aren’t going to want to do it on a regular basis. You will make exercise become a chore. Things like walking, biking, dancing and team sports all constitute as exercise, so find something that you liked doing.
A lot of the time when we focus on the word exercise we also have the main goal that we want to become fitter, look better, lift more weight, etc. I want your main focus for the exercise to be simple; mental health, that is always your end goal in this. Exercise releases endorphins, which I don’t know too much about, but I know that they are good and make you feel good up top too. You will find, with time, effort and enjoyment, you will exercise more, you will feel better, you may also become fitter, be able to run faster and lift more weight. All of these things will come as a natural part of the process, with the main goal, always, focused on your mental health.
With all this new found exercise, you’re going to be needing some good fuel and by that of course we mean food. As mentioned earlier, I’m not referencing anything, but studies have proven the effect of what we eat and how it affects our brain and mood. If you need evidence look it up, its on there I promise.
Find something that works for you, doesn’t matter if its keto, paleo, vegan, its no problem, just make sure its something you want to do. Focus once again on the enjoyment factor. Healthy food doesn’t have to taste bland. Some of the best tasting meals in the world, you will find, are always the healthiest. With a bit of time, you will develop the habit of eating healthy food and find yourself craving the good stuff, whilst avoiding things like fast food, chocolate and sweets.
You want food to be something you look forward to during your day, just like your exercise.
Pairing a healthy diet and good exercise together can be so beneficial, but you have to make it fun and tasty, otherwise you will find yourself losing the interest in both things, very quickly. Whenever I find myself struggling again, much of the time it comes back to these factors. Very simple process, eat some good stuff, get sweaty, it will help!
5. Social media:
Popping up constantly in the contributors to mental health is social media. How much and what we consume on social media, definitely has an effect on us.
Social media is a great way to connect with people. Through my travels, I have managed to meet lots of different people, from many different countries and social media is a great way of keeping up with where they are at now, without constantly being in their inbox. It is also a great way to sit and compare, which of course we are all guilty of doing, but what most of us don’t realise, is how much control we have over the content we see.
It is not always social media that contributes to our ill being, but our personal use of it. Some of what we see on social media can bring us down; pages that simply include people arguing, or fighting over traffic incidents and many more pages focusing on human beings, behaving at their worst. Trust me, spend enough time scrolling through that, you will find your mood deteriorating, quickly! Even things like seeing how well your friends from University are doing and constantly comparing yourself to them, of which for a while, I was so guilty of!
I took to deleting social media for a short time and it did work, but simply blaming a platform for my issues wasn’t going to solve them. If it works for you, then delete it, delete it all. However for me it was about finding a balance. There are many Instagram pages focusing on positivity and they can be really beneficial to you. Something that may help you to stop comparing, is to adjust who and what content you follow. Allow yourself to focus on your own life when it needs it most, rather than investing in others. Remember, social media is but only a snapshot of someone’s life, yours included. Some may only post the positives of their lives to try and ignore the pain they may be experiencing or, unfortunately in some instances, use their platform to abuse others insecurities into buying a product. Ultimately, what you need to do is monitor what elements of your media consumption benefit your life. If social media is something that is critical for your job, or in terms of connecting with friends and family, then fill your feeds with positivity. There are so many pages, groups and people who share advice, experiences and little pick me-ups, completely unrelated to trying to gain likes and followers, but because they want to help people.
Similarly, be a part of that positive change. Don’t go using your social media as a way of sharing abuse and posting negativity on other people’s pages, you will be responded with nothing but negativity. No good, came from hate and it never will.
6. Negative entities:
If you’ve skim read the most of this then that’s fine, but this is the part you’re really going to need to focus on. It’s the removal of negative entities. If there is anything within your life that you consider negative, you need to write it down. This is subjective and personal to you. You must take into consideration all aspects of negativity within your life. This can, and usually does, include relationships and work. If you go to work every single day and you hate it, just quit. The impact this will have on you is incredible. It doesn’t matter if you’re earning 60k a year, if you hate it, don’t do it. Relationship wise, I know many people who are constantly falling out with their partners, being mistreated and yet they continue with their day to day, as if no damage is being caused. Just get rid. Who gives a fuck if she looks like Margot Robbie, when she behaves like Rose West. This person is bringing detriment to your life and you need to say bye. I understand that when children come into relationships, it does make things more complicated and for that it wouldn’t be right for me to comment, I don’t have children.
I understand that jobs and relationships are things that we invest heavily in, but honestly it’s just not worth it. The most important thing is your happiness and your health.
A lot of this comes down to regaining control of your life and it’s direction. It can be incredibly empowering to hand your notice in for a job, without having plans for another, simply because you are taking back control of your life and what you want to do with it. Similarly, ending a toxic relationship with someone, who has already taken so much from you, and finally saying enough is enough, can restore such positivity and humanity that you may have lost.
Of course, these may seem like intense examples, but it goes for the smaller things in life too.
Best way to work through this section, write a list of all the things in your life you consider to be a negative, slowly work through removing them and watch the magic happen!
7. Gaining perspective:
On the same sheet as your negatives you need to list your positives, anything great that happens in you life, write it down. Whether it’s good friends, close family, you might be a great singer or a talented footballer, anything you’ve achieved during your life, even something as simple as going into work after feeling like shit all day, it’s a small victory, but a victory nonetheless. I can assure you, that you will be pleasantly surprised by the positive things you have in your life.
This time instead of crossing things out on the list, start trying to add things to the list. No victory is too small, it counts either way. Everything is subjective and personal to you. Avoid using other people’s achievements as a target, we all have different abilities and different things that make us special.
For me, whenever I feel my mood deteriorating, which happens a lot, I always revert back to these points that I made for myself. Although it hasn’t fully solved my issues, it’s most certainly a step in the right direction.
Now lets go back through the points and how to implement them:
1: Accepting- realising that you may have something up with you and it’s ok, you’re not alone, you’re a part of a huge community of people.
2: Talking- finding someone to speak to when you need it, they don’t have to fix your problems, it’s just someone that needs a good ear to listen with, they don’t necessarily need to understand either.
3: Medication- think about how it might work for you and if it will.
4: Diet and exercise- get sweaty and eat some good stuff, simple as really!
5: Social media- look at controlling it, delete it if you need to, if not, find things that are going to be positive. And let’s not go around abusing people, it won’t work.
6: Negative entities- write them down, cross them off. Can be anything, big or small. If you keep slipping on bananas, avoid them. If yo man ain’t shit, get rid.
7: Perspective- write down your good parts and find ways to add some more, the smallest of victories can mean an awful lot!
If you’ve gotten this far then I leave you with this. You are strong. You are in control of your life. If you’re still going, don’t stop. If you think about ending it all, then of course, that is an option. However in doing this, you are denying yourself the opportunity to get better. If you continue, if you keep going and fight through it, things WILL improve. That’s the only thing that I can guarantee. It’s working for me at least.
Thank you for reading.