I have been asked a lot lately: “What do I do if I’m feeling depressed” or “How can I help my friend that is cutting”. Yes, I studied psychology and sociology, so I have a little bit of background in why our brains work the way they do and how society shapes us, but in no way, I am an expert. I used my personal experiences and what worked for me to give others advice. I sometimes feel awkward giving advice because I don’t want to give anyone the wrong advice or advice that could make someone feel worse instead of better. So in reading this post, in no way am I telling you this is what you have to do, or if you do these things you will feel 100% better, these are just the things that worked for me!
So here is the advice I can give you through both personal and impersonal experience:
When it comes to self-injury (cutting), it has a lot to do with control and the releasing of negative feelings. Confronting someone about cutting can be a tricky thing. For one, they are most likely embarrassed about it, so if you’re going to confront them, make sure you do it privately and come from a non-judgemental standpoint. At the same time, the person could possibly be doing it as a cry for help. A lot of the kids I work with I find are doing it to get attention. So give them attention. Ask them questions and offer your support. Show them that you are there and they do not need to do these things. Help the person brainstorm other options instead of cutting. For example, writing (one thing that really helped me), talking with someone (a close friend or therapist) and exercising (even if it’s just a walk or bike ride).
I self-injured for close to 10 years off and on. I still remember the last time I did even though it was years ago. I got to the point where I came to the realizing that putting a blade to my skin was doing nothing to fix my situation or make myself feel better. It was like a drug. I got that high/numb feeling for those couple minutes, but the sadness and pain still came back every time. If I could go back and talk to myself when I was in grade 6 and started turning to cutting, I would ask myself “Why?” and explain that in the long run, this is doing nothing to help fix my dark feelings, and get rid of the dark cloud that followed me.
Depression is a whole nother thing. I had a good talk with a friend a couple nights ago about people calling a bluff on having depression. I personally don’t think anyone should be told “You are not depressed” because no one else but them knows how they are feeling on the instead. At the same time, I really don’t like when people post about mental illness and do not give some kind of solution or ways they are trying to deal with it. When I get depressed I isolate. I also go crazy on social media in the sense that I am constantly looking at what everyone else is doing and make myself feel bad that I’m not doing things like: dating anyone, going out to some crazy party or travelling the world. Social media is something I find to be very toxic for myself. So when I start feeling depressed I take a step back and look at certain aspects of my life. 1) Am I eating probably and getting to the gym? 2) Am I getting enough sleep? 3) Am I spending to much time on social media comparing myself to others? and 4) Have I talked and been around positive influences I have in my life? Usually, if I can focus on balancing out these things, I find I can subdue my dark cloud.
Medication is something that doesn’t work for everyone, but can definitely be an option. I am a huge believer in not filling our bodies with harsh chemicals from food, alcohol, drugs and unnecessary medications. But with this being said, I am on an antidepressant that helps eliminate my risk of having any future seizures. If I take this medication regularly it does help my mental health a lot. If I don’t take this medication properly, it can send me into a downward spiral. So please, if you choose medication to help with your mental health, take it regularly and how the doctor prescribes it.