Wednesday, April 20

Hints & Tips for the Discerning Mentalist

Don't stay up late.
Be in your bed by 10.30pm, at the latest, even if you're not tired. Once midnight has ticked by the gremlins enter your brain through your ears and gnaw on your mind. You might think you're beating them by choosing to stay up of your own free will, but this is what they want. They want you to get sucked into a crap and depressing film on TCM. Or a Jerry Springer repeat. They want you to stare out of the window at the stars and ponder the futility of your own existence. Do not satisfy the gremlins! Do not feed them after midnight!

Feeding time
When I am depressed I lean towards beige food (bread, biscuits, tea). It usually requires minimal preparation, fills the gaping void in my soul/stomach (same thing) and is bland enough so that I don't want to vomit it back up. But this is wrong. The key to surviving is to eat colourful food.

This is what I really, really wanted to eat yesterday:
- croissant/brioche
- bread roll

This is what I forced myself to eat:
- strawberries
- a pear
- an omelette & salad
- a yoghurt

... and guess what? I had almost picked up by 9pm. Almost. Until I found out Elisabeth Sladen had died and it set me off again.

Choose your entertainment wisely
For example, I can't watch loud things, or stupid things on TV when I am depressed, even though I generally love loud and stupid things. They frighten me. And give me a headache. I can just about manage knitting. And I can read a classic (Austen/James/Eliot). I try to avoid social networking, because it makes me paranoid, but generally fail miserably. Take my advice: stay away from social networking. Nobody wants to look at pictures of their horrible, old classmates' fugly babies, sometimes they can persecute you with their eyes "You have failed at life. Look at me. I am living proof that somebody you hated when you were fourteen is more successful and fulfilled than you".

Go Out
Of course you don't want to go out. Look at the state you're in, who'd want to look at you? What could you possibly offer the universe in your current state of mind? Your face is covered in anxiety spots, and untreated dry patches, and your good clothes are all lying in a spent heap at the end of your bed. Tough. If you work, I'm afraid you're going to have to go. If you're off, stick a big, baggy jumper on and go for a walk. Nobody is going to look at you. Get over yourself. It helps to have a small MISSION. For example, "Today my Mission is to buy some toilet paper from Budgens and go to the Post Office". Then you can get home and say to yourself "Mission Accomplished" which makes you feel nice, and important.

Stands for Cognitive Behavioural Therapy. Ask your doctor about it. It's ace.

Of course these techniques won't work for everybody. Depression is the most personal, most self-centred, most eclectic condition of the bunch. But perhaps, just perhaps, some of these scenarios will ring a bell with you. And maybe just feeling that you're not alone will help you recover for a brief second. If that occurs then "Mission Accomplished".

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