Brought to you by Pieta House’s Darkness Into Light supported by Electric Ireland.
Looking after your mental health is so important.
And sometimes talking to people who have gone through difficulties in the past can be a massive help.
We asked four Irish women who have dealt with depression in their own lives to impart some of their wisdom and share the best pieces of advice they would give someone going through it.
It really gives you food for thought.
”Everyone deals with depression differently, there is no right or wrong way. You just need to find what suits you. The first step, which is often the hardest, is to reach out. Whether it’s a friend, family member, work colleague or professional. Just say to someone “I’m not ok”.
A few years ago, I completely lost all confidence in myself. I hit rock bottom and isolated myself from everyone. I broke down to a family member who helped me make an appointment with a counsellor. I thought, “I don’t have anything to say or even know what’s wrong with me so how will they know?”. I was wrong.
I started eating right and exercising (even a short walk to clear the head). A healthy body helps build a healthy mind. My mood lifted and I didn’t feel so lost anymore. But that didn’t happen over night, it was a process over time. I still keep a diary and write everything down when life gets a bit heavy sometimes, but I look back and I am so proud at how far I’ve come along.
My main worry was what people will think of me. Will they think I’m weak? Now I realise I’m actually stronger mentally because I’ve been put through the test of life and in the end I’m still smiling. Everyone has a different story to tell, but we need to get rid of the stigma, admit when we are feeling down, and help each other out, whether it’s giving advice or just a listening ear.”
”The main advice I would give someone would be to talk. Sometimes you’ll just want to shut yourself away in your room and forget about everyone but your family and friends are there to help you if you just let them. Talking to a professional can also be a massive help too.
My second piece of advice is to be kind to yourself. Speak to yourself the way you would speak to your best friend. Do not put yourself down.
My final piece of advice is do not be ashamed of your depression. It is an illness and you should be proud of yourself for getting through it.”
”My one piece of advice is to be patient, and accept your experience with mental illness is individual/unique. When I was diagnosed with depression, I was given medication. I thought taking this would result in an instant fix but it does not work like that.
Dealing with mental illness is a long journey and often treatments which may work for others, may not work for you and you have to accept and understand that.
Often people wrongly assume one counselling session, or opening up to someone will make everything better, and this just simply is not the case. You have to give these methods time, for example, anti-depressants take 6 weeks before any noticeable change can begin to be seen.
When I was first assigned a counsellor to speak with, I ended up changing between 5 different counsellors until I found someone I was able to open up with and felt comfortable speaking to. This is absolutely normal, and once you are aware and patient with both yourself and the treatment options you are trying, dealing with your mental health and your journey back to health will be a lot more manageable.”
”The first big step is realising what is going on and trying to talk to someone. Most of the time a stranger is easier to talk to than a family member. Avoid alcohol and drugs. You may be tempted to drink or use drugs to try escape from your feelings but the use of these substances will make your depression worse and increase suicidal thoughts.
You may not feel up to physical activity and just want to hide away in a corner, but if you take a simple short daily walk it will help your mind escape the negativity.
Cut back on social media and online time. This was very important to me as I spent too many hours staring into my phone. Social media is no replacement for in-person conversation. Try put your phone/tablet off for a few hours during the day and maybe do some adult mindfulness colouring which I really enjoyed.
Try to not isolate yourself, although you will not want to see or do anything. Even though it may be hard, try get out and take a walk through a shopping centre or a town just to distract your mind in some way.”
This article is brought to you by Pieta House’s Darkness Into Light supported by Electric Ireland.
Darkness Into Light, supported by Electric Ireland, takes place in 120 venues across Ireland on Saturday, May 6th, at 4.15am. Darkness Into Light supports Pieta House’s life-saving work, allowing them to continue to provide free therapeutic services to people in suicidal crisis, who are self-harming or have been bereaved by suicide. You can find out more about Darkness Into Light here.