Grief, heartbreak, depression… whatever your melancholic poison, most of us find ourselves up against it at some point in our lives, and despite my irreverent and 100% always cheerful demeanour on social media, I myself have been plagued by the black dog since I was a teenager. And it’s fucking rubbish.
Hyperbole and a Half
The internet is awash with self-help articles endorsing self-care and self-kindness in times of emotional turmoil, and these are largely great. But the fact is, when you wake up in the morning and simply cannot fathom getting out of bed, let alone doing functional human basics such as washing yourself and eating breakfast, signing up to purifying yoga courses or making gratitude scrapbooks can feel a bit above your current pay grade. I’ve no doubt that exercise releases a whole bunch of endorphins, and that cooking a meal from scratch is relaxing and fulfilling, but they’re not realistic suggestions for someone who’s really in a hell of a funk. These are, though:
- Nap ON your bed, not IN your bed
You don’t have to tell me how tempting it is to crawl back into bed once you’ve overcome the seemingly gargantuan task of getting out of it on dark days. But if bed is where it’s at for you at that moment in time, make a point of straightening the duvet out and lying down on top of it (you don’t have to fuck about with hospital corners or perfectly plumped pillows or whatever). This helps draw a line between day and night time, which is good for both your psyche and your propensity to get up and amble around a bit without feeling like you can’t because you’re hunkered down for the day.
- Organise your washing up
If you’ve got a load of dirty plates and mugs lying around, that’s good because it means you’re eating (high five). But it’s also crap because unless you have the energy and motivation to wash it up, you gotta look at a load of mess all day. Take just a minute to organise all the dirty stuff into a pile. Stack plates atop one another and take the used mugs out of the lounge or bedroom. You don’t have to wash it up right now, but by minimising the surface area it takes up – and having a neat pile ready for when you do feel up to it – you’ll feel more in control of the mess.
- Go outside
Even if it’s just for a few minutes while you smoke a fag or have a cup of tea. Or even just shove your head out of the window for a second. Get some of that D on your face and fresh air in your lungs.
A Zillion Dollar Comics
- Copy/paste replies to friends
I can tell when I’m on the cusp of a wobble because suddenly every form of communication from my friends seems like a huge infringement on my time and space – simply because I feel under pressure to respond. I know, right? How hard is it to type out a few sentences of chit chat? Thanks, depression! In any case, I’m hella lucky to have lots of good friends that check in on the reg, and so if I start feeling stressed out by that – or by that one unread Whatsapp that I know I have to respond to at some point but which continues to flash up on my notifications list like a fucking Windows 10 reminder – then I take five minutes to type out a generic reply along the lines of ‘Hey, today is not the one but I’m okay. How are you?’ and then blast it to all of them. It lets them know I’m not lying face down in a bar somewhere but also that I’m not feeling super chatty. They’re my friends, they get it.
- Put on some clean clothes
They don’t have to be clothes-clothes, like going-outside-and-functioning-in-society clothes, but just something that’s not pyjamas. Or more specifically, not the pyjamas you’ve slept in. Just something comfortable that doesn’t smell of night sweat and tears. For me, it’s usually a questionable band t-shirt and a pair of jeggings (I always said I’d never stoop to those, but here we are, I’m leaning into it). Hardly the attire of a consummate professional, I know, but if my mind is in the bin then the simple act of getting out of pyjamas and putting on a different, clean, comfortable outfit is a significant game-changer. This is why the whole ‘loungewear’ thing is doing such a roaring trade, I’m sure of it.
- Keep face wipes by your bed
I’m quite fastidious when it comes to my skincare regime, having spent the equivalent of a small country’s GDP on various Clarins serums. But on days when I just don’t give a shit and the faff of cleansing, toning and moisturising seems so utterly pointless in the grand scheme of things, I’ll haphazardly smush a cleansing wipe around my face before beginning my nightly routine of sighing forever into a pillow. Dr Jart would be horrified, I know, but a partially-cleansed face is better than one laden with the dirt of a day’s difficult existence (and more importantly, it helps you feel like you’re still in control of personal grooming basics).
For someone with such an otherwise horrendously unhealthy lifestyle, I sure do like yoga a whole lot, and I think there’s a great deal of stock in the idea that we carry our emotions physically, particularly in times of acute suffering. Grief, sadness and anger can harden around us, especially if we spend hours on end curled up in the foetal position. Stand up, stretch it out. Just move to the other side of the sofa, even. Don’t let the blues get into your bones.
- Have some fruit
Eat a banana, dribble an orange into your mouth, mix your vodka with pear juice, whatever – anything to remind your body that it’s a living organism and not a grunting trash receptacle for bread dipped in anything runnier than bread.
- Have a glass of water
All of those tears have gotta come from somewhere, right? And even if you’re not physically crying yourself into a raisin, being dehydrated makes you crabby and sleepless and headachey, which is just a whole bunch of nope considering everything else you’ve got going on. Get your hands on a water bottle if you can – that way you can have it in bed with you / on the sofa / rolling around the floor of your kitchen as you lie face down under the counter.
- Download this app (or something like it)
For some people, sleep cannot come soon enough at the end of a difficult day. For others – like me – it’s an elusive fucker camouflaged by icky thoughts and unpleasant feelings that spring into action the minute my head hits the pillow. So out comes the phone and endless hours of scrolling in a bid to distract myself. I KNOW. This ain’t the healthiest way of dealing with things and yes, there’s no end of evidence to show that playing with your phone before bed is a guaranteed ticket to insomnia city, BUT, you gotta do what you’ve gotta do to get by, right? So, if you are going to dick about with your phone until exhaustion finally overwhelms you, some kind of blue light-inhibiting app will help take the edge off your already wired and overwrought brain.