Friday, 30 January 2015



Some words of encouragement for depression sufferers.

Grrrrr... (Image copyright Black Dog website).


OK, so far 2015 hasn’t go off to a great start for me. For various reasons I wasn’t able to move out of London as I’d planned and now have to find another lodger. The accumulated stress has, unfortunately, put me in a depressed state of mind.

The thing is, this is nowhere I haven’t been before: since I was 30, I’ve had the illness and always manage to weather the storm. It’s tougher now I live on my own, but the fact that I’ve managed to overcome bouts of depression since getting divorced in 2008 shows that, like most depressives, I’m a lot tougher than I think I am.

So what works me for me? Here’s what doesn’t: staying in bed all day, watching telly all day, not eating, isolating yourself. As I rationally type this I know without a doubt how bad this combination is, but I won’t pretend that I don’t still give in to it.

The most important thing for me is getting up. Non-sufferers will be puzzled by how significant this innocuous daily ritual is, but anyone who’s suffered from depression will know that it will make the difference between a good and, frankly, terrible day. Whatever’s keeping you stressed, upset or worried, it’s far better to get up and face it because, encouragingly, it doesn’t seem half so bad when you do. Putting your feet on the floor and throwing back the covers is the absolute key to beating the daily blues.

When you’re in a depressed state of mind, every day things – having a shower, a cup of coffee, putting on Breakfast TV – all make a difference because they’re part of a normal routine and, once you get into that groove again, they have a cumulative effect: the more you do, the better you feel. For me at the moment, because I’m not working, I try and make sure I get out of the house and go to the library because I know people there and it’s a good atmosphere to be in. Handily, it’s also a 20 minute walk away, so I’m getting enough exercise (another important black dog remedy). It’s that or jumping around the front room to ‘5 Minutes’, which is equally effective.

Writing also helps. Even if I only manage an hour a day, and even if it isn’t perfect or finished, I find it incredibly therapeutic. Being nice to yourself every day is essential. And even if you just speak to a mate on the phone, it’ll make a helluva difference.

I’ve known since 2008 that I’m bi-polar and being on the right medication has made a big difference but, as I’ve said, it doesn’t make you immune from recurrent bouts of depression. Knowing the danger signs is crucial, and if things do start going seriously awry, the number one thing you should do is see your GP so you can be referred. If you’re worried about doing that, try the excellent and very understanding mental health charity MIND.            

Hey, The Stranglers have just arrived on Breakfast TV! Today’s first pleasant surprise, and not something you’d be able to enjoy if you were hiding under the pillow.

Things will get better.