Did you know suicide has increased to 60% in the last 45 years (World Health Organization)? Approximately 1,000,000 people around the world take their lives per year (World Health Organization). Those statistics are way too high. I dream for a world where it is okay to talk about suicide and mental illness. These topics shouldn’t be a taboo. People who struggle internally shouldn’t have to face stigma or stereotypes. For instance, not all schizophrenics are dangerous, nor are people with eating disorders all extremely skinny. Together we need to shatter these myths. In fact, I am a firm believer that all health classes should include mental health in the curriculum. By teaching kids, teens, and adults about the symptoms and implications of mental disorders, we can give them a better understanding.
I was diagnosed with persistent depressive disorder and the occasional mayor depressive episode. All my life I have battled against suicidal thoughts. To be quite honest there are days where the thought still pops up in my mind. I’ve had multiple attempts in the past, and two that landed me in the hospital. I am thankful that I failed because I would have missed out on wonderful things. The following list are things I implement in my life to keep on going:
- Keep yourself curious: One of the characteristics of depression is feeling hopeless, especially during a severe episode. Sometimes hope won’t just cut it. So, intrigue yourself with things of interest. For example, remind yourself, if you end it your life. Then you’ll miss out on your favorite tv show’s new season or you won’t be able to eat at the new restaurant. The trick here is to find things that catch your attention.
Surround yourself with supportive people: I know this one can be challenging. When depression hits you want to be alone. Especially, when you’ve convinced yourself no one cares. But trust me on this. Distancing yourself won’t help. People that truly care about you will push you towards recovery.
- Saying “NO”: Depression comes with fatigue and restlessness. Value your time and space. It’s okay to say “no” when someone asks for a favor. You do not need to give an explanation. Respecting yourself enough to say “no”. Will give you time to rest and gather your energy.
Leave your comfort zone: Depression convinces us that the world is hostile and terrifying. Having this point of view keeps us from living life. Start by taking small steps out of your comfort zone. As your confidence starts to grow you will be able to try out new things that will help you grow and heal.
- Find a hobby that in turn will help people: Depression can make us unintentionally selfish. Focusing on our pain impedes us to see other people’s points of views. Having a hobby that is fun will keep us motivated and helping others will lift our spirits.
Exercising: I know, I know! I bet you are tired of hearing this. But trust me. Exercising 4 times a week will make a difference. Did you know exercising releases endorphins in your brain? These happy chemicals will regulate your mood and improve your concentration and attention. The trick here is to do something you enjoy. It can be Zumba, cardio, biking, running, dancing, and lifting weights, etc.
- Nutrition: Eating a balanced meal has its benefits (Related: Depressed & Stressed?: Mood Boosting Foods). Our brain and body needs adequate healthy foods to function properly. Neglecting this will worsen depression. Keep in mind eating correctly, doesn’t mean you can’t have a cheat day to eat something unhealthy. Just don’t make a habit out of it.
Sleep hygiene: Depression affects our sleeping schedule. We tend to stay up all night or sleep excessively during the day. Sleeping 7 to 8 hours is of up most importance. Did you know that the lack of sleep will worsen your depression and increase your chance of committing suicide? Sleep deprivation will directly impact your mood and daily function.
- Psychical health: It is essential to take care of your body. Try to visit your doctor at least twice a year for a checkup. There are many disorders such as, hyperthyroidism that directly impacts your mood. People with this will experience anxiety and depression. And remember if you have a medical condition then take your medication as directed. (Related: Depression’s Physical Symptoms)
Practice gratitude: Depression blinds us. It’s as if we are walking around with a blindfold. Focusing on the negative. Taking a minute or two at the end of the day to be grateful makes a huge difference. These can be small things such as, having a warm meal or a bed to sleep in. Create a gratitude journal. When things get bad, you can always read what you wrote to remind yourself of the good things.
Keep in mind these tips do not replace professional help. If your depression worsens or stays the same. Then please ask for help. Talk to someone who cares, it can be anybody. A teacher, friend, parent, coach, or any family member. You don’t have to suffer alone. Suicide is not a joke and it should not be taken lightly. Try implementing the list above. It is easier said than done. It’s okay if you have to obligate yourself at first. I used the tips listed above along with therapy and medication. It helped me tremendously. What other tips or tricks you have used? Feel free to comment your thoughts below.