To start with, if you know me or have read my blog previously, I've been blighted with depression for a long time (I had my first serious bout of illness with it about 5 years ago, previous post here).
I've been on antidepressants for the 5 years since then, but I recently split up with my husband and with that being a seemingly quite traumatic event (even though actually it seems to be the most amicable split in history) it triggered my anxiety and depression without me realising it and I began to become symptomatic and get quite poorly.
So, firstly, go to the Doctors! Even if you're already diagnosed as having mental health problems and think "you're fine", it's best to go. If you don't have a previous diagnosis but you are constantly feeling down, like you have no energy, don't enjoy things as much as you normally do, or just don't feel yourself and you don't know why - make an appointment. I carried on for a while without going, but then it got too much and I ended up sobbing at my Doctor.
It's ok not to be ok. Depression is a cruel bastard. But it's an illness. It's not one anyone would choose to have, and you need to take time to get better. I didn't tell anyone for a little while that I wasn't feeling ok, mainly as I didn't recognise it myself. You absolutely do not have to tell people how you're feeling if you don't want to, but it does help to talk. Hugely. I only talk specifically about it to certain people (and apparently on my blog, hiiiii), but I'm not ashamed of it.
I'm not looking forward to Christmas, but at the end of the day, it's one day. Don't isolate yourself from others. You don't have to take part in all the merriment and frolics if that's painful for you, but being alone is worse. I'm not putting a tree up this year, or doing presents with anyone (mainly as I'm broke and I don't have the energy to decorate my house), but I'm not going to wallow in the fact it's December. I may have the odd rant about something (recently Christmas cards), but I'll still see some of my family on the day, and my friend has invited me to hers in the evening so I'm not sitting at home nursing a Baileys with my cats.
Probably don't get massively pissed at every Christmas party going - alcohol really won't help and might become a dangerous coping mechanism. 100% go out and have a dance if you've got the mojo.
Supporting those with depression
It's difficult to know what to do for the best sometimes. It's hard to understand it unless you've been through it. This Buzzfeed article with "Cards your friends with depression will appreciate" is excellent, as really, just knowing someone is there for you is mostly enough.
During a really shitty week recently my friend Kate came round and made me dinner and we just sat and watched TV. Aimee forceable came round to mine despite me saying no, but it made me feel so much better. My friend Andrea, who I actually don't know knew I was feeling shit at the time, held my hand in her car when I was quiet and my Mum has helped with housework as I've just felt pants. My poor friends Laura and James have had me practically move in and sob on them more times than they need to remember. Things like that just make you feel supported and less like you're a total fucking failure of a human (which you're not, you're ill).
If you know someone who's going through it and don't know what to say, just be there. The worst things to say are "It could be worse/but you have so much going for you/what have you got to be upset about" as none of these are relevant. You wouldn't ask someone why they had a cold, or that it could be worse if they had bronchitis (yes it could always be worse, but the point is, when you feel lower than a snake's belly and mostly about yourself, being made to feel bad about that only makes you feel lower).
So if you feel depressed this Christmas, you're not alone! Holla to you. It's not all carols and mince pies. Sometimes you just want to stay in bed. You can feel better though. Since I saw my Dr last week I had my medication increased and just by the fact that she listened and acknowledged I'm not well I feel a little better. Talking therapies are great too. I had CBT 5 years ago and it was amazing. Chat to others who have been through depression and got through it - it's not as bleak as it may seem, and knowing there is light at the end of the tunnel can be reassuring. If you're alone and need to talk, drop me a line, or contact the Samaritans if you're really struggling.
If your loved one is depressed this Christmas - just give them a cuddle, maybe cook the dinner, if you don't know what to say visit Mind for some advise.