You Will Get Over This: The Best and Worst Advice for Depression

During a difficult time a few years ago, a nurse told me to be kind to myself. I had to really think about what that meant; I realized it meant doing any little thing that might be enjoyable, lying in bed if I wanted to, not doing much if I wanted to, and definitely taking a break from work. I started to really tune into this, meaning I could identify small feelings of relief, for example the feeling of putting my cheek on a pillow and from then on I was able to collect myself.
Faith Liversedge, 47, Edinburgh

My friend told me to focus on what you are doing rather than the next task. Basically, get up and shower, but don’t start thinking about what’s going to happen later at work, just the next half hour. It seems obvious, but ultimately it’s about being present and mindful.
Jo, 39, Stockport

During a depressive episode, I was futilely told to eat the rainbow. At this point, I could barely be bothered to make toast, let alone prepare a colorful meal. However, I smiled and later destroyed the package of Skittles left in my mailbox by a colleague.
Helena, Bristol

My health visitor noticed my worsening postpartum depression. She recommended that I seek therapy for the trauma I experienced as a child, and also that I be open to trying antidepressants as a kindness to myself, to help me cope with everyday life, as therapy is not an instant fix. . I am very grateful for her advice. I had no idea how heavy a weight I had carried my entire life until I went to therapy. The same goes for antidepressants: I just didn’t think they were an option. It’s important for people to know that they can be used as a temporary measure to help you get through difficult times.

Ten years ago, I went through a life-changing period of depression, during which I needed hospital care for a good six months. The worst advice I received was to take a shower. I literally wanted to die and hated baths. It was totally ridiculous. The most helpful advice came from my sister: When you’re going through hell, keep going.
Jude, 48, Devon

In August 2010 I had a severe depression caused by work, which led to a breakdown. The worst advice I received: Throw yourself into work to forget about it, came from my employer. The next worst thing was the online CBT (cognitive behavioral therapy) course prescribed by my doctor. I had to go to a local health center and sit in a cubicle, alone in front of a PC, answering multiple choice questions about how I felt and how I would react to different scenarios. The best thing I did was get a puppy. That ball of energy and love made me go out again and become interested in life. Without this focus, I’m almost certain I wouldn’t be here today.

I was recommended exercise, especially running, and a doctor said it was imperative because antidepressants would make me gain weight. Not only did I find this worry not the most pressing thing at the moment, but it also made me anxious about not exercising. Eventually I became much more active as a result of joining a rugby team. The community spirit has elevated me much more and has been important for me to feel better.
João Sousa, 33, Glasgow

When I was suffering from severe postpartum depression in the 1980s, my doctor told me to get it together, you’re not the only woman who has had a child. Of course, this didn’t help at all and only made me feel much worse. I was really upset when my daughter received the same advice from her family doctor in 2010.

For me, most advice from mental health professionals has been pretty unhelpful. Lots of variations of journaling, mindful activities, and other things that would probably be more effective for less severe cases. Strangely enough, the most helpful thing was giving up gluten, which my sister suggested. It’s had more of an impact on my mood than more than five different antidepressants I’ve been prescribed, even though I still take medication.
Rachel Vallely, 24, Sheffield

The best advice I received was from a therapist who told me that you need to keep your shed (sleep, hydration, exercise, and diet) to keep depression at bay, as well as minimize caffeine and alcohol. It made me realize that the times I had my depression under control were when I exercised regularly, which involved staying hydrated and eating a healthier diet, which led to a better night’s sleep.
Dave Torsney, 39, Armadale

The main problem I faced was that most of the advice I received required me to expend energy. Someone with severe depression has no energy to spare or at least that is their belief. I always felt ridiculed by these suggestions: forcing yourself out of bed, going for a walk, exercising. Even going to the doctor or pharmacy for antidepressants often felt like climbing Everest.

Depression Illustration
Illustration: Darren Espin/The Guardian

CBT changed my life. It was like climbing out of a deep, dark hole. It had a terrible impact on my relationship with my mother, as it became clear where my problems began, but it freed me from a life of low self-esteem and the need to say yes. Saying no is easy now; sometimes a little too easy.
Marks, 56, Cranleigh

The worst advice I ever received was from a Harley Street doctor who started randomly listing the good things in life, Sound of Music style, one of which was roast potatoes. I didn’t see him again. A few years later, when I was ricocheting between services, an NHS mental health professional said to me: You’ll get over this when you retire. I was almost 20 years old at the time.
Natalie, 41, Somerset

While trying to recover from my illness, I spent a lot of time at the local beach. I found being outside and near water very calming. One day I was talking to the owner of a local surf school and my condition came up. Go surfing, he said, it will fix you. The best advice I received. I spent about 12 months trying to learn how to surf, finally becoming better at it. It gave me focus, mindfulness, and therapy all in one.
Steve, 60, Devon

Just be happy. Three useless words. A decree that only manages to give volume to feelings of inadequacy, alienation and failure. If three words really is your limit, I would probably choose Let’s get help, Thanks for sharing, I’m sorry, it will get better, you’re not alone, I’m always here. Would I have even had a cup of tea? about the unconsciously brutal. Just be happy.
Elizabeth O’Mahoney, Cornwall

I have had depression for 20 years. During treatment at SUS, I was taught to have a safe place in my mind, to remember a moment when I felt happy and alone. For me, it’s an orange orchard in California.

This actually had a long-term benefit for me. When I get overwhelmed, I find a place to sit, close my eyes, and think about my safe place. I remember what the sky looked like, the birds, the space around me and why I was happy.
Paul Turner, 52, Toulouse, France

Go to. A race. It works. It’s very difficult to get dressed and go out there. But when I start running, my brain shuts down, which is really good. When I run, I’m just focused on the race. Not in problems, in children, in family. Just me and my breath and the beauty that surrounds me. The endorphins kick in afterwards and for a few hours I have a mental break.
Cecile Jacques, 47, Surrey

I was listening to a podcast that mentioned Wim Hof ​​and his breathing exercises. I found his exposure to cold water and breath holding exercises very helpful. They gave me the opportunity to get up and do things instead of just moping around the house. I start every day with a cold shower now.
Bill Byrne, 48, Ely

I had depression in my late teens and my doctor took me off work for four weeks. He requested a report on all the museums in our city and I was so scared that he would ask me that I visited them all. I’m already 60 years old and I still remember those visits: they took me away from the things that filled my mind in such a destructive way.

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