The global suicide rate keeps rising. And it’s our fault. The people around us are in pain and that’s because we’re not supporting each other as we should. This must stop. We can’t keep allowing people to die because we haven’t given them the right help.
Depression only exists because we allow it to. There’s no need for it, it serves no purpose at all. We can eliminate it. And we do that by raising confident, creative, and self-aware individuals.
We do it by reminding the grown-ups of this world of the power that comes from sharing our stories and of the sheer joy that using our imaginations can bring.
We do it by the power of creativity.
Writing saved my life. That may sound melodramatic, but it’s also true. I’m not going to bore you with my life story, but here’s the edited version:
I always wanted to be a mother and I always assumed I would be a mother. After all, that’s what women do, isn’t it?
Only it never happened for me and I eventually found myself, at the age of 47, finally having to face the fact that the one thing I wanted out of life just wasn’t going to happen for me.
I was left with a choice. I had to decide if I was going to drink myself to an early grave or find something else to fill my life with. I’m still here, so obviously I chose to find something else to feel passionate about.
By this stage, I’d been working in mental health for over 20 years and I’d told countless clients to write out your feelings.
I decided to take my own advice.
And my whole life changed. I rediscovered a love of writing. So much so, that I’m currently writing a novel, a blog, and articles for a content agency during the day.
If writing can save my life, then it can probably save someone else’s life. Maybe hundreds of someone else’s lives. Maybe it can help lower the suicide rate of our young people.
Being dead should never be the best option for our young people. Or our adults. We need to fix this crisis. We need to stop shaking our heads and tsk-tsking when we hear of yet another suicide and instead, we need to do something about it.
Turn the demon Depression into a thing of beauty
Or as I call it, a creature of fucking beauty (CFB).
If I sound angry, it’s because I am and I can’t understand why other people aren’t as angry at the suicide rate as I am. I know there’s been a lot going on in the world recently and yes, those matters need to be fixed. But so does suicide.
It’s not acceptable. It’s just not. It’s not noble or romantic and it’s sure as hell not the only solution! The problem is, that by the time we get to the point where we think it is our best option, it’s often too late.
We need to hit the problem of suicide a lot earlier. We need to teach our children that it’s okay to feel like shit and it’s okay to talk about feeling like shit. Telling kids that it will all be fine and you just need to think positively does them a disservice. And it’s a fucking lie.
Good mental health does not come from thinking positively. It comes from being able to actively manage your own emotions. All of them. All emotions, which include: sadness, anger, frustration, anxiety, grief. All are acceptable things to feel and all of us feel them.
Recovery from depression is Bulls^&t. There’s no need to waste any more time or any more money on visiting doctors or other health professionals that simply tell you that you need to take more antidepressants and that you need to think positively.
Over the next few paragraphs, I’m going to show you five ways to manage your depression that you can do on your own. You don’t have to consult any doctors or other so-called health professionals.
Three of these things will cost you nothing and two will have a minimal cost to them for supplies. And there’s a good chance that you’ve got some of these supplies at home, so you won’t need to purchase them.
And no, none of them are about thinking positively or exercising daily because we all know if it was that simple nobody would have depression.
I help women with long-standing depression deal well with what I call the demon depression, rather than wasting time and energy trying to get rid of something that you’ve had for what seems like forever.
If you’ve got long-standing depression, you know it’s not going away in a hurry, so you need to find a way to manage it so that you can live a fulfilling life despite your depression. And not only despite your depression, but you can use it to fuel that life.
#1 Tarot Cards
The first thing I want to talk about is tarot cards. I’m a firm believer in the power of tarot. I have developed my own mental health tarot spread which I use for myself and for clients.
But, for an option that’s even simpler than that, if you’ve got a deck of tarot cards at home, pick a card every morning. Shuffle first, then pick a card. Spend some time meditating with that card if you choose or just spend some time writing a story about what the image on the card “says” to you.
That process helps your Depression by getting your creativity flowing. It gets your mind working in a productive way.
Negative thoughts are a big aspect of depression so if you’re concentrating on what this tarot card is bringing you what you can see in this tarot card, your brain doesn’t have time to work on those negative thoughts.
Obviously, you can’t do that all day, every day. You can spend as much time on it as you want, but realistically you can’t do that all day. But you’ll be surprised at the kind of insights that you gain from spending those few minutes in the morning with your tarot deck.
#2 Shadow Work
is the kind of cliché, a key phrase, of the moment: you hear it everywhere, but there are different ways of doing shadow work. And shadow work means different things to different people.
Every morning I pull a card from the Dark Wood Tarot by Sasha Graham and Abigail Larson. Now, the beauty of this deck is that as well as literal meanings, they also have shadow meanings. I use the shadow meaning as a journal prompt and spend the next few minutes writing about whatever comes to mind.
Shadow work is really about integrating those parts of yourself that you’re not really too keen on. With depression, you have to be a bit careful with shadow cards. If you’re in the midst of a bout I strongly recommend that you don’t do shadow work until you’re feeling better because it can spiral you downwards.
However, when you’re feeling well, shadow work can help you to see the little (or large) parts of you that you don’t like. And we’ve all got them, they’re perfectly natural and perfectly human.
But once you see those things, once you understand them, and you bring them out into the open, they’re not half as scary as they were before. And then you’re able to use them, to work on them, to try and eliminate them if you choose. Or you can channel that energy into a different thing.
The shadow work can be done by journaling (that’s the way I prefer to do it) but it doesn’t have to be journal work. You can also create art, you can sit and have a chat with your friend about it, you can even cook something that reminds you of whatever the shadow work has brought up for you.
It doesn’t matter what form it takes, as long as you’re getting that stuff out of your head and just gone. Gone from your head because the head is where we’re most hard on ourselves.
The third thing that I find helpful is meditation. Some people cringe when you say meditation because they have visions of sitting on the floor cross-legged and trying to still their brains for hours on end.
Most of us simply can’t still our brains for hours on end. I believe there are people that can achieve that stillness, but they have usually spent years and years practicing this. For the rest of us that are just trying to get through our day, meditation can take various forms.
You can attempt to sit quietly and just watch your thoughts go by. Just acknowledge them and let them go. I use “thank you, on your way” whenever I catch a thought.
However, this is very difficult for people with depression whether they’re well or not. I find that people with depression have usually got a pretty vivid imagination, so it’s sometimes a better idea to get your hands on some guided visualizations, or guided meditations.
A quick google search will give you plenty of guided meditations to start with. I have some specific ones that I do with some spiritual teachers that I’m working with at the moment, but it doesn’t have to be a spiritual thing. It can be just as simple as spending a couple of days imagining yourself in your happy place. Okay, again, another cliché, but the thing about cliches is that there’s often a grain of truth in them.
This is definitely the case with meditations: they work. It’s also another way you can use your tarot cards. Get your tarot deck and pull a card in the morning. If you’re not sure what the card is saying to you, look up the meaning in the card leaflet that came with your deck. Do your shadow work with the card in whatever form works best for you and then meditate on either the card or whatever shadows it brought up for you that you may want to explore further.
If you’re wondering how meditation helps with depression, again, it’s creativity. Depression is in the brain although it often comes with physical symptoms, it lives in the brain. And if we can get your brain concentrating on other things, it will be able to produce the transmitters that we need like serotonin, dopamine, melatonin, and all those good ones.
An easy way to produce those chemicals is just to imagine yourself being happy. Your brain doesn’t know the difference between imagination and what’s “real” so why not imagine yourself as happy?
Meditation can also be going for a walk. I’m not saying go out there and exercise daily because it’s good for depression, I’m not saying that at all. But, if you feel like going for a walk, that will put you in the same place a meditation does.
Anything that puts you in that zone, the one where the rest of the world is blocked out and you’re focusing on what you’re doing. I have a friend who knits and that’s a form of meditation for her.
I use crystals a lot. I use them for meditation, I use them for healing. For example, at the moment I’ve got a very sore wrist with tendonitis, so I’m loaded up with lapis, rose quartz, smokey quartz, clear quartz and shungite.
Crystals can also help with calming your thoughts. Rose quartz is a good one to start with if you’re not familiar with crystals. Although I must confess, I struggle a bit with rose quartz because I have a thing about pink. I do not do pink. I don’t like pink. However, I appreciate the qualities that rose quartz emits so I do wear a small piece of it.
But I do struggle with pink. I also struggle with being nice to myself and the whole self-love thing. And that’s what rose quartz is about. Rose quartz is love. It’s pure love.
Using a piece of rose quartz, you can sit and meditate with it in your hands or put it under your pillow. I will often put a piece of amethyst under my pillow because that helps me sleep and as we all know, particularly if you have depression, sleep is so very, very, important.
One thing to remember, if you’re going to use crystals, they don’t have to be the big gorgeous massive chunks that you see, as lovely as they are, they can be tiny and still be just as effective.
Clear quartz is another good crystal to have sitting next to you. You can hold it in your hand and use it as you would with worry beads. Clear quartz is a good kind of all-rounder, it’s like lavender oil. Lavender essential oil is good for just about everything and clear quartz has got the same kind of healing properties.
There are other qualities that your crystals have, and those specific crystals have, and I will go into that further in another post, but for now, this is just an introduction to my five things that work best.
#5 Essential Oils
The fifth one is essential oils. I work with a lot of essential oils, as well, for just about everything. Again, at the moment I’ve got tendonitis, so I’ve got a mix of essential oils that are good for that. I have them mixed together with a carrier oil in a wee roller bottle and I rub that on my wrist. I also use them for moderating my mood.
Lavender, as I mentioned before, is a good one particularly for helping me sleep. I’ll often put a couple of drops on a tissue and put it in my pillowcase. I’ve also usually got essential oils in the diffuser, which goes all the time beside me when I’m working. They just help to uplift the mood.
If you’re looking at essential oils, specifically for lifting mood, any of the citrus range is good, so that’s your orange, your lemons, and lime. Peppermint, funnily enough, is another good one. For lifting the atmosphere.
You can use essential oils in a diffuser, as I mentioned, or in a roll-on bottle which you can just (as the name suggests) roll on. You can use them straight on your hands and inhale them. Just put a couple of drops in your hands and inhale. A couple of drops on the back of your neck is also good, and if you want the oils to work quickly, pop a couple of drops on the soles of your feet.
So, if you’re starting off with essential oils for your mood, I would go with some citrus ones and lavender. I’d also recommend frankincense, but frankincense is expensive. So perhaps, look at that further down the line.
Quality not Quantity with Essential Oils
Now, just a quick word about quality. Yes, you can find essential oils, or rather, so-called essential oils, in the two-dollar shop but really it’s just oil with a bit of scent. You’re better off going with a trusted, high quality, brand or you’re not going to get the effects that you need. If you’re interested, give me a shout, I’ve got some essential oils that I can recommend and I can show you how to buy some good ones.
Treating Depression on Your Own, Your Way
Okay, there you have it. Those are my 5 tips for dealing with depression on a daily basis. Treating depression on your own isn’t as scary as it may first sound but here’s the disclaimer: I’m not saying stop seeing your doctor immediately, I’m not saying stop taking your antidepressants, I’m not saying any of that.
I find that the older I get and the longer I have depression, I know how to manage my depression a damn sight better than my doctor. My doctor doesn’t have a clue. For starters, I don’t think she’s ever had depression in her life. I don’t know that of course, but I don’t think she has. Even so, she’s not me. So, managing depression on your own makes more sense than any other way.
It’s also important that you make your own decisions about what you’re going to do. I’ve given you these five tips that I know work, because they’ve worked for me, but all five of them might not work for you. Meditation’s a good example of this. If you don’t like meditation, if the idea of it, just gives you the willies, don’t try and force yourself to do it. It’s pointless.
Managing your depression on your own is about finding what works for you and sometimes that involves a little bit of experimentation until you get the right thing. But, with these 5 tips, you have somewhere to start.