In the 15 or so years that I've lived with depression, I’ve built a metaphorical toolbox of techniques and relationships that help me keep the darkness at bay. Two of these depression coping tools are my dogs. Here’s how bundles of fur and slobber, known as dogs, help me cope with depression.
Coping with Depression
Though our society has come a long way in the perception of mental illness, stigmas around this topic are still alive and well. Stigma can be blatant or subtle; sometimes, it’s as small as an individual word or phrase. Here are some tips for choosing the right words and using language to fight mental illness stigma.
Although our society has come a long way in the treatment and perception of mental illness, there’s no doubt that stigmas surrounding these illnesses are still alive and well. Societal stigma can lead to self-stigma, and both can be very damaging to people with depression. Here we'll discuss common stigmas about depression, why they're problematic, and what you can do to fight them.
I wasn’t surprised when I read a recent study that linked reading with a lower risk of depression. I’ve seen the mental health benefits of reading firsthand, and books are now one of the many tools I use to cope with depression. Reading boosts my self-esteem, distracts my thoughts, and reduces my stress—all contributing to alleviating my depression. Here, I’ll discuss why reading has been so therapeutic for me.
For depression sufferers, it can feel like our minds filter out positive emotions and turn our thoughts into a vortex of negativity. Seeing the pain and suffering caused by natural disasters often exacerbates depression.
As a writer, I’ve found creativity is one of the first things to be affected when my depression rears its ugly head. Depression makes it harder to motivate myself to write and harder to express my unique creative voice—the thing that brings me the most joy.
People often hide their depression well. We don’t want to worry our loved ones. We fear being judged and stigmatized—even now when mental illness is much better understood and accepted than in decades past. We may see our disease as a weakness, something that we need to tackle alone. Maybe we’re in denial, hiding our depression not only from others but from ourselves.
I’m still struggling with the negative self-talk that often comes with depression. Many of you have probably experienced this in some form or other—a nagging voice in the back of your mind that fixates on all things negative, constantly reminding you of your failures and flaws. For me, this voice is especially frustrating because I know it isn’t logical. I have, overall, a happy and fortunate life. Yet sometimes, I can’t help feeling defeated or worthless over a relatively minor event, like forgetting to run an errand or even burning the toast. When depression rears its ugly head, my negative self-talk magnifies the smallest perceived failures a hundredfold.
Last year, I quit my soul-sucking corporate job to pursue my true passion: writing. It impacted my depression in unexpected ways; in fact, it made my depression worse.
I’m Rachel Craft, and I’m excited to join the "Coping with Depression" blog at HealthyPlace. I was diagnosed with depression over a decade ago in college. As a type-A perfectionist, I was constantly overwhelmed with stress and never got enough sleep. My habitually low self-esteem took a dive at one point, and I developed an eating disorder and started experimenting with self-harm. It was a terrifying period of my life because I realized I might not survive if I didn’t find help.