“Soon madness has worn you down. It’s easier to do what it says than argue. In this way, it takes over your mind. You no longer know where it ends and you begin. You believe anything it says. You do what it tells you, no matter how extreme or absurd. If it says you’re worthless, you agree. You plead for it to stop. You promise to behave. You are on your knees before it, and it laughs.”
― Marya Hornbacher, Madness: A Bipolar Life
Cool, so first things first, Depression and Anxiety come in many forms, all unique to those experiencing them. What works for me, might not work for you… If you feel worthless, this will probably hit close to home, if you're depression is more akin to loneliness, maybe it will hit home too…
Who am I? That's probably what you're asking yourself… Like who the fuck is this guy giving advice on a pandemic that affects millions of people each year. Well, honestly, I’m a nobody, just your average everyday guy that has dealt with, and managed, some times better than other times, depression and anxiety over the last 29yrs of his life. I have no formal education on the subject, and I can say that I still don't have it all figured out. But if this helps you out, who cares.
Tip #1. Take Advantage of the Ups, and Organize your life.
Depressions f*ing sucks. When you're in it, you're in it. Days, Weeks, Months, of emptiness. This makes it extremely difficult to stay consistent. You’re doing great, on top of the world… AND THEN… It hits, out of nowhere (we all have triggers… later on, that) you’re entire existence has no meaning, nothing feels right, and you're lost in the abyss.
With this, it becomes extremely important for you to take advantage of the ups, that little window you have where you feel human. During this window it’s your chance to start building your liferaft, putting together that flotation device that will help you stay above water/ resurface the next time you are pulled down.
Scheduling is my go-to for building my liferaft. There are a few things that make up my liferaft which include.
- Early mornings, I wake up extremely early, the reason behind this is it allows me to control my day with less chance of anything rocking the boat.
- Morning gym sessions, my gym session give me an additional win which curves the feeling of worthlessness. Sometimes I yell in my car “I’m on a winning streak”(I stole that from some guy on linked in, Charlie, I think) It helps when I’m feeling like shit, sometimes.
- Projects, I’m always working on something that keeps my mind excited, whether that is working towards the next level at work or building a side business; It lights the spark.
The above arent meant for you, they work for me. The point is, organize your day around yourself. A lot of anxiety, for me at least, is wrapped around not having enough time and overthinking everything which can be paralyzing. Creating a schedule and consistency will help you not fall as deep into the hole and provide a way to keep above water.
Tips #2. Stop apologizing for who you are.
This one took me a long time to realize, no one will understand where you are coming from, stop thinking that someday they will, and start thinking, fuck’um (sorry for all the cursing, actually, fuck that, dealing with “depression” isn't “fuck” free).
If you’re hurting those around you physically or with nasty words, that's one thing, and there is help to deal with those things, but be sure that those around you arent completely toxic. You are dealing with your own fight, you don't need to be fighting with other people or be involved in any of their drama. You are allowed to be silent, to pull away, to spend time on your own, to not hang out with friends, you go and eat alone… You don’t need to be anyone's friend, commit yourself to things you don't want to be committed to, YOU HAVE PERMISSION TO BE YOU! This was one of the most liberating things I realized and was a key factor that led to my sobriety; 1yr next month, but who’s counting.
- Be unapologetically clear with friends and family about your ground rules.
- If you have to be in a situation that you don't want to be in, It helps if you have an “escape plan”; You can leave.
- For those of us with spouses; get them on your team, it may take time for them to understand where you're coming from, but with consistency, they might come around.
You’re happiness and sanity matter, you being yourself isn't going to kill someone else; but you not being yourself may kill you.
Tip #3 Ownership
Own everything, this one will probably rub 50% of people the wrong way… But hear me out…
Imagine living in a world where no one else has any effect on you, you are the master of your trajectory and nothing anyone else can do has any effect on you.
This is Ownership, It doesn't matter who’s fault something is, what happened in the past, what's happening in the present, for your own sanity, take control of it. It's debilitating living in a world where you're waiting for others to change. It's liberating when you realize that you can change yourself and your responses to others.
Other people do not care about what they have done or how they make you feel… But what does this have to do with anything you may be asking yourself… Owning every situation gives you a path to correction, you cannot change the world around you nearly as quickly as you can change yourself. This will give you more mental clarity as you will be able to deal with the problem from your own perspective rather than hope someone else sees the issues in the same way you do and is also willing to make changes themselves. This ownership is also a huge tool for when you feel like shit, If you start thinking it's your environment's fault, you lose. Own it. Work the muscle.
Tip #4 Wear headphones
I absolutely hate crowded spaces and dealing with people moving at different paces. Grocery stores… I hate them… Tiptoeing behind people moving 2mph, never knowing where anything is, having to navigate back and forth in the store to find the Adobo because you think it should be with the spices but it's with the “Hispanic Foods” section… like its 2021, put tortillas with the bread and the spices with the spices… But I digress.
Headphones are a lifesaver. Put on some DMX and grab those groceries with a purpose, or maybe throw on some calming T-Swift and glide down the isles as you have nowhere to be (which you probably don't, you just can't deal with crowds… can my insurance cover curbside pickup?)
This tip isn't as intense as the last ones, but trust me, it makes life better. I need to get some affiliate links… I use some Bose wireless headphones.
Tip #5 Brainwash yourself
You are consuming media all day and night, do you really think it doesn't have an effect on you? There’s a study out there that says, “…we have 70,000 thoughts a day, and 90% of them are the same” I'm paraphrasing, I’ll find a link later, but my point is; You are living in a mental hamster wheel, running around in circles, and probably wondering why you can escape this dismal day to day existence. Stop listening and reading the same shit. If it makes you upset and you can't handle it, ignore and avoid it.
https://ibpf.org/70000-thoughts-per-day/ (first google result for fact-checking myself)https://www.discovermagazine.com/mind/the-70-000-thoughts-per-day-myth(the fourth result… i’ll read this later)
If this sounds crazy, give me a “WFTAYTA”, in the comments below.
If you want to change, you need to do different things, change requires changes. This deserves its own book, but the identity you have based on your consumption dictates how you deal with different situations, those suffering from Depression need to be extremely careful with what they are consuming.
Tip #6 Watch what you are Eating.
Consumption is huge! What you eat matters and if you don't believe me, I challenge you to eat clean for one week, no alcohol, processed meats (cutting out meat completely was very impactful for me), drink a gallon of water a day. This is an extremely dense topic, and I’m not going to break down everything, but I did find a very insightful article which I’ll post below.
Unfortunately, just like an expensive car, your brain can be damaged if you ingest anything other than premium fuel. If substances from “low-premium” fuel (such as what you get from processed or refined foods) get to the brain, it has little ability to get rid of them. Diets high in refined sugars, for example, are harmful to the brain. In addition to worsening your body’s regulation of insulin, they also promote inflammation and oxidative stress. Multiple studies have found a correlation between a diet high in refined sugars and impaired brain function — and even a worsening of symptoms of mood disorders, such as depression.
Nutritional psychiatry: Your brain on food - Harvard Health Blog
Think about it. Your brain is always "on." It takes care of your thoughts and movements, your breathing and heartbeat…
I consider myself a high-performing car, I can go faster than most, I have potential, but if I put the wrong fuels into my body and mind, things start breaking.
Tip #7 Recognizing Triggers/Red Flags
If you've experienced Depression for any amount of time, you might have already noticed this, but you have triggers/red flags that foreshadow the descent. As soon as you notice these things you need to redirect and refocus. Start Journaling and really digging deep into who you are and how you operate. This takes a long time and will be painful. For me my Red flags include sleeping in, playing video games, overeating, and over socializing; When I notice that I am starting to ignore my existence/reality through hedonistic activities, it's time for me to pull back and evaluate the whys behind my actions.
These things will differ from person to person, just pay close attention to the precursors of your episodes of depression and have an open mind that they may be actual red flags. A lot of people are living in a haze with zero awareness or care of why they do what they do and what the underlying reasons are that a lot of the time they are the catalyst to their own hardships.
If you find yourself in this situation, try writing down what you are feeling and reflect on your goals. You need to figure out what things in your life aren't currently working on and experiment with things that may help. A lot of learning to deal with depression is self-experimentation. Know thy self. It's really key. Depression might not go away, instead of dampening the experience, it's wise to figure out how to work with it.
Tip #8 Silence
Schedule time for yourself. Just you. No Music, no podcast, no wife and kids, friends, just you. Your mind is experiencing life, 24/7, it's exhausting. Challenge time: Schedule 30min of time per week for silence, sit in a quiet space, with nothing but you and your thoughts. You can consider this mindfulness training, but really it's just giving you a break from everything/ the constant demand of life.
One thing I highly recommend is Floatation Therapy/Sensory Deprivation/Isolation Chambers.
^ These are tanks filled with 1,000 pounds of epsom salt water, the water is set to body temperature as is the air surrounding you, you are given silicon earbuds and you float for 30–90min. Each experience is unique to the individual and I don't want to hype it up too much, but it was a key life-changing experience and saved me after a rough divorce.
Sensory Deprivation Tank: Effects and Health Benefits
Float centers and spas offer float therapy in sensory deprivation tanks all over the world. Studies show that flotation…
Tip # 9 Cut out Alcohol
Have you ever heard someone say “My life was horrible until I started drinking” or “Man, I’m so glad I drank last night, I feel great today”?… No, you haven't, it's utterly ridiculous. Also, if you are like me and deal with social anxiety, ask yourself, am I Drinking for me or for someone else? Personally, for years, I drank unwittingly to entertain. I was the life of the party, but I hated myself and disliked being in the environment I would put myself in. But in the spirit of fun, I would binge drink just to deal with the emptiness these situations put me in.
You do not have to be anyone's friend, you do not have to entertain anyone, you are allowed to be in control of your life.
These three statements changed the way i conduct myself and I can say after 11months that there hasn't been a single morning when I woke up and wished that i had gone out with friends or drank the night before. And with that, i will extend this tip to include
Tip #9.5 Change your circle —
Back to “Change requiring change”, this is probably one of the hardest things to look at and think about. The question is, Are the people I’m surrounding myself with, working for me or against me? This isn't to say that those around you are purposefully trying to keep you in a state of depression, but do they bring you peace and clarity?
I have recreated myself multiple times and when you do this, decide to change, you have to be very careful that you do not fill the space you have created with the same things that defined who you were previously. My rule is 6months. I do not allow anyone into my life without knowing them for 6months and having a decent feel for what I am getting myself into.
Some questions to ask:
- Does this person bring value to my life?
- Does this person have the same values as me?
- Do i have the emotional bandwidth to deal with this person?
- If you were to stop being the person this person wants you/ expects you to be would they still want you around?
Tip #10 Get help
Yep, this maybe should have been number one. Getting help is crucial, whether that help is something like Therapy or Medication, or Finding a group of people to speak with (what is that called? drop it in the comments; my sense of humor is desert dry; Don’t drop it in the comments…)… Doing everything may help, but the journey of self-discovery can be rapidly accelerated with the assistance of a trained professional. Figure out the deeply nested whys, the backdrops to your issues. A shrink/psychiatry/psychologist can help you decode the why behind what makes you tick.
Alright, so you got it, 10 tips and tricks to dealing with Depression and anxiety. I don’t know if you could tell but this was written over two days and my mood changed halfway through. I’ll be passing this over to some reviewers and hopefully, they can help me put it into better shape… Anyways, One tip to sum up all of the above, “Focus on discovering yourself”… Dealing with mental health issues is extremely personal, don't listen to some asshole on the internet telling you how to deal with how you feel unless it resonates with you. I hope this brought some self-realizations and maybe an “aha” or two.