Let's talk about mental illness + 10 Tips for Coping with Depression & Anxiety

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

If you follow my blog, you will have noticed quite a long absence in posting from me. It wasn't intentional, I tried to blog every week, but couldn't do it. Mental illness has plagued me for years, but it's been especially bad since December last year, & the month of March was really, really bad. Basically, every mental disease I've suffered from in the past kind of crept back into my life last month. It was horrible. I'm still not completely better, but I've been able to move past my OCD & depression enough to begin posting again. I've spent the better part of March & April healing & focusing on my health.

During the time of my absence, I connected with a lot of people suffering through the same things as I am, & I thought it would be a good idea to share the things that have helped me lately & in the past few months. Since there are so many different types of mental illness, I am going to post specifically about depression & anxiety today, as they are two of the most common of mental illnesses. And even if you don't have depression/anxiety, I am sure you know someone in your life who does & this could help you understand a little bit more of what they are going through. I am hoping to start a blog series where I highlight different mental illnesses every month & focus on different aspects of a particular illness. My goal is to create an open, compassionate space together to discuss mental illness, to continue to break the stigma, & offer love & healing to others. Today, I just want to share some tips that have helped me cope with my depression & anxiety. I hope you find them helpful!

1. Educate Yourself
Depression is still very mysterious to the scientific & medical world. Dozens of theories & hypotheses have been thrown around for years. Sadly, no one has an answer. It's possible that depression could be caused by a myriad of different things. No one really knows. While there are no clear answers, in the meantime you can use this experience to discover your body & mind & learn to listen to it, because no one knows your body better than you do. Become of an expert on your condition. Research all you can about depression/anxiety, be open-minded with all the different theories, listen to your doctors, therapists, etc, & then decide for yourself what you think you must do to help yourself. You will become much more in-tuned with your body as a result, & you will feel more confident with educating others on the disease. Right now, we are in a trial & error period, & this doesn't have to be a bad thing. Education can help things feel less scary & hopeless.

2. Meditate
I find that on days when I am having really bad depression & anxiety, my mind feels numb but also so chaotic. Meditating helps clear the mind & lower your heart rate, which is important when you're experiencing anxiety, which usually increases your heart rate. You could try guided meditation, like a video like this on YouTube, or it could be something as simple as taking a bath (with extra bubbles) listening to relaxing music (classical is my favorite), writing, painting (look into 'Process Art'). Whatever tickles your fancy.

3. Vitamins
Since depression affects your entire body & weakens your immune system, it's important to try to take extra care of your physical health. I take extra vitamins D3 & C everyday, as well as one spray of vitamin B12. As a vegan, the only way to really get B12 in your diet is to supplement. For non-vegans, I recommend a B12 supplement, as well. Because chances are, you aren't getting enough B12 in your diet, even as a non-vegan. The only way animals have vitamin B12 is because it's added to their feed, & there isn't always any way of knowing whether it was added or not. Instead of getting your vitamin B12 in a round-about, questionable way, just supplement. It's easier & more effective that way. Vitamins may not cure your depression, but they will help you feel better & protect your immune system. The supplements I use are mykind Organics from Garden of Life. The products are vegan & many come in spray form, which is great if you have anxiety with taking pills (like me).

4. Surround Yourself with Nature/Beauty
On really bad days, I don't usually leave the house, so I don't get the fresh air & oxygen I need. Since January, I've been obsessed with houseplants & flowers. My desk is starting to look like a tropical forest. The beautiful greens & colors are refreshing to look at, you can almost feel them breathing, & having plants around who NEED me to take care of them & water them gives me hope when I feel hopeless. Plants are a very minimal responsibility, so it isn't as overwhelming as keeping a job or something like that. Having something beautiful & alive around you when you are feeling depressed & anxious is very comforting, kind of in the same way a service dog would be. I have given my plants names & so I have developed a keen closeness to them (which warms my heart). My love bought me three teeny tiny succulents for our anniversary & I need help naming them! Leave your suggestions in the comments, if you'd like to help me name my little wee ones!

5. Reach Out & Talk to People
This can be a really hard one, especially when you are experiencing a lot of anxiety. If you are ever feeling comfortable enough, you could try looking for support groups, whether it be in person or online, whatever you are comfortable with at the moment. There is a growing mental illness community online. Instagram is a wonderful platform for the mental illness community, & I have recently discovered Periscope where I have already found quite a few people speaking up about mental health & sharing their story. I'll be posting about Periscope & my favorite broadcasters in the future, so follow my blog if you'd like to see that. Talking about your mental illness can sometimes be the best medicine. There is something very comforting & hopeful with meeting other people who are experiencing the same thing as you. And the more you speak up about your story, the less scary it is & the more we break the stigma. You are not alone. And if you ever want/need to talk to someone, you are more than welcome to talk to me via email. My contact information is in the Contact Me page at the top. I always have an open ear & open heart.

6. You Don't Need to Explain Things
Some people just don't "get" depression or anxiety, or they question the legitimacy of the disease. It's not always their fault - perhaps they haven't heard enough about it, & they are genuinely being sincere. And then there are people who have had it explained to them numerous times, but they still refuse to get it. You know the frustration of talking to people like this. It can feel like an interrogation. But let me tell you a secret: you don't owe anyone an explanation, whether they are being sincere or insincere about it. All you need to say is that you have depression/anxiety & that's that. It's 2016. We have smartphones, the Internet, Google! It's the Age of Information, knowledge is at our fingertips. Of course, if you want to give them an explanation & you have the energy for it, absolutely go for it. But some days you just aren't feeling it, so remember that explaining the legitimacy of your disease is not required. Especially if they are just trying to be assholes about it.  

7. Drink Lots of Water
Yes, this one is so important & I'll tell you why. When you are numb & having a really bad depression day, it's easy to neglect yourself, though not on purpose of course. One thing I have suffered greatly from as an indirect result of my depression is dehydration. It's easy to forget to drink water when you are having a difficult day, or week, or month. Depression weakens your immune system, so if you are not drinking enough water, your body becomes very vulnerable. It might seem like an obvious thing, but when you are consumed by despair all day & feeling anxious, water isn't exactly on your mind. It's important to remind yourself, no matter how hard the day. Hydrate, babes!

8. Take Walks/Exercise
For about 2 1/2 months, I was mostly in fetal position on my bed, unable to do much throughout the day. When I started taking more vitamins & tried meditation, my health began to improve a little, at least to the point where I could leave the house & be active. If there's one thing I know that is 100% beneficial for fighting depression/anxiety, it's exercise. My doctor always tells me, "If you want to live a long life, you MUST exercise." I find walks to be the most beneficial for me, because it's easy & could even be a form of meditation. Yoga & Pilates can also be gentle forms of exercise. Or just dance like a lunatic around your home in nothing but your panties (it's an empowering experience ;) ) Find what works for you & do it as often as you can, especially on the "good days". On days that are more difficult, be gentle & patient with yourself. You may have a period where you are not able to exercise at all, & that's okay. During times that are better, take advantage of it & move your gorgeous body! 

9. Don't Try to "Catch Up"
The morning after you've spent most of the day on your bed in fetal position or under the covers or just staring out the window or at the wall, it's easy to feel overwhelmed & to feel the need to make up for all that lost time. It's a hard situation, because you feel anxious about not getting anything done but you also feel too anxious about doing anything. Ah, the madness. This is where step number 2 helps. Take a deep breath, clear your mind, & remember that you are only human - a human with a disease you can't control. It's okay if you can't get everything done. You need to give yourself room to heal, & overwhelming yourself with double the work isn't going to help. Be gentle & patient with yourselves, loves.

10. Express Yourself
"Putting a voice to your soul helps you to let go of the negative energy of fear and regret." -Shannon L. Alder
When you suffer from depression & anxiety, it can make you feel paralyzed, worthless, invisible, lifeless. It can feel like you don't exist. If there is one thing you can do for your sanity during this time, or anytime really, it's the art of expression. It is through expression that we exist. Find something you love or are good at & express what you are feeling, even if that feeling is chaos, darkness, sadness, etc. It could be anything - art, music, singing, dancing, writing, acting, fashion, film/video making, blogging, poetry, photography, reading, crafting, sewing, makeup, yoga, baking/cooking, gardening, design, etc. I hope these give you some ideas. Even if it takes you forever to finish what you started or it's not as good as you had hoped, it's okay, because you're doing it for you & discovering yourself. I have always felt that there is beauty in darkness, & to be able to express that is a deep, beautiful experience.

I hope these help, even if just a little. Mental illness sucks, but don't ever give up hope. There is always a silver lining, always a rainbow after a storm, always a new day with a new sun. You're not alone. YOU are not alone. I would love to hear about your experiences with mental illness, if you feel comfortable with it, & I would love to hear what you think about these tips & if you want to add any to the list.

Leave your comments, babes!

Kate x


  1. This is a great post dear. I hope you are doing better now :)

    1. Thank you, Ambi. :) I am feeling better, thank you! I love your blog. I will make sure to bookmark it.

      Kate x

  2. Really great tips! Follow these and you will keep getting better. Number 10 is important, have a project, a focus some goals. Keep creating! It will give you purpose.
    To number 3, I would add magnesium and iodine, our soil is deficient in in these minerals due to intensive modern farming processes. Iodine is important for thyroid function, it it's not functioning well you will be sluggish and tired. Magnesium is particularly important to sleep, but is also essential for about 300 biochemical reactions in the body. Also a lack of iron will leave you with brain fog and feeling depressed- so please supplement that too! (If you are interested in more information on your health Dr Libby Weaver is my guru, she is a biochemist and doctor.)
    The extra tip I would add is don't live too much online or for social media. The the more time you can spend in the real world the better. Go out for a walk every day. See friends. If you need to meet people take a class in something you love to find like minded people. If you keep blogging about this topic, bear in mind that your feedback may be limited, people suffering might have anxiety about leaving you feedback. All the best poppet x

    1. Thank you for the information on the supplements! I was familiar with the importance of magnesium & iron, but I haven't heard much about how iodine is important. I will have to look up that doctor.

      Yes, too much social media isn't good for anyone. I am happy we have it, though, for people just starting to come out of their shell.

      I hope that the more conversation there is the more comfortable people will feel with sharing their stories & experiences. It's all a journey. :) Thank you so much for your long, thoughtful comment!

      Kate x


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