I struggle with depression and anxiety and I have done for years. I have good periods and bad periods, and sometimes it can even fluctuate from day to day. But there are a few specific things that I feel have helped me get by, or even overcome the worst of it, when I’ve been stuck in a bad place. These are all my happy places.
While these things don’t cure me, or make me instantly happy, they do help make me feel more zen and comforted in those darker and lonelier moments.
The Count of Monte Cristo – Alexandre Dumas
I will praise this book until the day I die. It’s not for everyone as it is a long, slow build, and unlike the 2002 movie adaption it does have some darker themes and actions from the Count himself that aren’t exactly forgivable, but regardless I still love this story – movie and book.
It’s a wonderful revenge story about how an innocent man was done wrong by, and somehow despite the impossible situation he was in, makes it out and thrives – taking the most beautifully crafted revenge on the people that wronged him.
While I’m not going to go out there and take revenge on the people I feel have wronged me, when I first read this book I did fall in love with the Count’s persistence and strength. Without ruining the story, he was in a situation that was truly impossible to escape, and yet he did, and made himself greater from the experience. When I get into a dark place that’s how I feel – that escape is impossible and that how I’m feeling will never end – but it will end, and I will come out greater on the other side.
Knitting (& re-runs of Call the Midwife)
This one might be a bit strange, but I love knitting. To me, the perfect way to disconnect momentarily from the bad feelings is to get comfy and snuggling up in bed, put on endless episodes of Call the Midwife that I have seen SO many times, and bring out whatever knitting project I am working on and knit away.
Not only is it really cool to have made your own clothing item, or any of the other tons of things you can knit, but it’s relaxing. Something about being able to switch your brain off and let your hands do the work just chills me out, especially when I’m feeling vulnerable.
Showering / Pampering
Sometimes it’s just the simple things that make me feel better. Even when I feel like all I want to do is lie in bed and binge watch Netflix (hi Forensic Files), I try force myself to get up and go for a shower or bath. I wash my hair, my face, maybe put a face mask on and jump into bed feeling all fresh and clean.
It doesn’t make the bad feelings go away, but it helps to make me feel a little bit better and cosier, and helps me think a lot clearer. Remembering to take care of yourself is difficult when you’re in a dark place, but for me, it does make all the difference.
This sort of ties in with the last one. While it’s difficult to actually force yourself out of the hole you’re in, and it’s hard to get out of bed when you don’t have the physical or emotional energy to do so, if I can manage to do it and clean up my space a little, I feel better for it.
Even if it’s just organising my desk, or putting the clothes on the floor into the washing basket. A 5 minute tidy up can sometimes help to make me feel cleaner, more zen and can make me feel like I’ve actually achieved something that day instead of spending the entire day in bed letting my bad thoughts control me.
What helps you when you’re feeling low?