Whenever you see long periods of silence on this blog, a depressive phase is a highly probable cause, haha. (Busyness is another, but I find that even when I’m very busy, I tend to write a lot if I’m slightly hypomanic.)

It frightens me A LOT, no doubt about it. But my uncle Timothy was probably right when he said to me three years ago – "depression is OK, it is manageable, don’t worry too much about it, trust God and He will see you through".

The reality of that is very hard for me to grasp – it was at that time, and it still is, now, especially in depressive phases where I just struggle massively with life.

I know people tend not to talk about this – but I have grown increasingly confident that it is something COMMON that NEEDS to be talked about. A lot of people need help in this area – and very often people don’t really know how to help me.

I seem to be managing better with each passing year – I don’t know how accurate my self-assessment is – but that is the general feedback I get from people around me.

1. Routines help a lot. I force myself to achieve ONE small thing each day. On some days, that achievement could simply mean taking a bath. Sounds pathetic, but that IS the reality. I tell that to my close friends and get them to ask me what I’ve achieved each day.

2. Be around people. My friends know how to persuade me to get out of the house and be around them when I’m depressed. In other words, build strong friendships when you are not depressed, identify key people who can help you – and count on these friends. You have to – you can’t count on yourself. Anushka hauled me over to her house the day before I started my new job, took care of me in spite of her busyness, and sent me to work the next day. Jo called me almost everyday to asked how I was, and if I nodded somberly and said I was OK, she would say, "Good! That’s better than crap". These people help me break through the darkness with their love, care, prayer, and in Jo’s case, her relentless optimism (that annoys me at other times).

3. Fight. I realise I am more reluctant to admit I am depressed these days. If I am still "functioning", I don’t classify myself as depressed as easily anymore. Generally, I try to adopt a fighting spirit, haha. I am still reflecting on this – I realise being in denial for too long isn’t constructive either, I am continuously learning when, how, and who to turn to for help.

4. Build good foundations of thought and habit. I fall into all sorts of questioning cycles when I am depressed! But I realised whatever thought pattern I cultivate outside of a depressive phase still holds its influence. So you should think about what you want to be thinking about. For myself, I find my Christian beliefs significantly helpful. My good habits of being punctual, taking ownership of my work etc also keep me functioning reasonably well in a depressive phase. While my eating habits have improved over the years, I am still working on it.

5. Exercise. Capoeira helps me feel better! The challenge is to get motivated to go to Capoeira. Keagan bugs me when I don’t turn up!

6. Take medication(?). I am still undecided about this – I secretly tried to half my Epilim intake in June because I knew I wasn’t hypomanic (and Epilim controls hypomania). I probably wasn’t as consistent as I should’ve been with the Lexapro and Epilim combination.  My doctor told me not to experiment carelessly and I take that advice very seriously.

Hmm it seems I am falling into the trap of giving "standard advice", but it should count for something seeing that it comes from personal experience! (And by the way if you don’t know me well and are getting frightened by all this talk about emotional disorders – I am a normal, nice person that a lot of people find very loveable!)