December 21, 2012, a day surrounded by speculation that the world would end, mine nearly did. On this day I attempted suicide. I’ve had attempts before, but they were never quite as serious. This was the first and last time I seriously attempted suicide. After this day, I learned 1. Depression is something I will probably deal with for the rest of my life, and 2. I would never seriously attempt suicide again. This second revelation was not because I no longer had suicidal thoughts but because I knew I had to learn how to work through them. I have to work through these feelings regularly. I share my tips because no matter how impossible the situation may seem or feel for moments, hours, days, months, or years, there is always some way to resolve the issue even if we don’t know how to at the moment.
Change is constant. We all experience ups and downs, but one thing that is guaranteed by the laws of nature (which we are all subject to like gravity) is that we all experience ups. As human beings, we all feel pain and suffer in life, no matter who we are, how much privilege we have or where we are born, suffering and pain is inevitable in life and we can develop inner and outer tools and strengths to get through the dark days, so some way, somehow, we may experience those up days again even if it seems impossible.
While I know strategies that work for me may not work for others, I hope something from this list resonates. Regardless, continue to experiment, and don’t give up trying to find things that may be helpful for you!
- Therapy / Counselling – Consider taking advantage of free counselling and free therapy near you (see resources below). I know there can still be a huge stigma around counselling for some, even for me, but I’ve learnt it does help provide a safe space for me to discuss what is happening in my life and what is making me sad. Counselling also helps with self-improvement.
- Take Deep Breaths and Say positive affirmations – On a day-to-day basis when I am feeling overwhelmed, I take deep breaths and repeat to myself, I am okay, I am okay, I am okay. Until I finally understand I am okay. Eventually, I begin to trust that I am okay… It takes practice and there can be ups and downs along the way, but the more I practice saying I am okay the more I feel okay.
- Guided Meditation – Taking a break for yourself. Take 20 minutes to an hour for yourself to sit and just breathe or listen to a guided meditation. You can listen to 432 hz / solfeggio music from youtube or binaural beats. This may not be for everyone, especially if you are dealing with some heavier thoughts or experiences. Talk it over with your therapist or counsellor to be sure meditation will be helpful for you.
- Do Yoga/ Exercise – This one is a keeper, there is a Youtube channel called Yoga with Adriene and I strongly believe that, after completing one of her videos, anyone can feel better. Yoga with Adriene is simple and takes your mind off whatever is stressing you. Sometimes I start her videos on the verge of a meltdown and end up just wanting to melt away into my carpet (where I do yoga). I may not be enthusiastic about doing any work after Yoga with Adriene, but I no longer feel so down after watching her videos either.
- Take a Break to do Something You Enjoy – I often feel that not working or doing things for fun is unproductive… but taking time off can actually help with productivity. We all need time to recuperate to do something we love. If you don’t know what that is yet, like I often don’t, maybe just eat something you really like guilt-free, do something you usually prohibit yourself from doing, try something you’ve always wanted to try, or buy something you never allowed yourself to buy before. Spend time with your family. Watch tv or a movie. Indulge in a guilty pleasure as long as it is safe and it isn’t harming anyone, including yourself.
- Listen to Podcasts or Songs That Give Perspective – This is a trick I learned while in Vienna. I was extremely distressed after losing my wallet with all the business contacts I made for work, my laptop, my money, and my personal ids. I had lost all my items except my phone and my passport. I was trying to find a way to feel positive. I mustered the strength to pull up a podcast on Spotify called “The Depression Detox Show” on my phone. I listened to this “Depression Detox” podcast as I balled my eyes out, until I simply cried and then was just silent. I still felt numb inside but listening to others who shared their challenging experiences, and how they got through them, it helped me feel like I too could get through my experience.
- Rest / Sleep – Sometimes things and days feel overwhelming, and we feel like this feeling of depression will never go away, but it does. Nothing good or bad lasts forever. So when you’re feeling down, it is okay to rest, take a break or sleep it off. Take that day for what it is and just let it pass, and you will have survived another day and triumphed by just letting the day pass.
- Be of service to others – This is karma to me and the rule of reciprocity. When I am sad and feeling hopeless, I can trust everything will eventually be okay because I am a good person. If there is an opportunity for you to be nice or do good for someone else, consider it. You will feel better…Even if it is for selfish reasons, you are helping someone else and that kindness will find its way back to you, someway, somehow. Your kindness will never be in vain.
- List things You’re Grateful For – This is a habit I don’t do enough – expressing what I am grateful for. So often we get caught up on what isn’t going right in our lives that we tend to disregard or forget what is going right. When you are experiencing an issue that brings feelings of depression, try and list something you’re grateful for related to that issue. For example, I am often discouraged and worried about my art career. When I feel this way, I can think of good things that have occurred for my art career and be grateful for them and trust that many more will come.
- You choose – Everyone is different, think of something you’ve done in the past to alleviate stress and consider using it. There is a stress reliever that works for everyone. When you find what works for you, consider sharing it with others who may suffer from depression like us.
I hope this top 10 list helps you like it helps me. I hope whatever it is that you’re experiencing passes too…it will; it always does. Just give it time. In the meantime, here are some additional resources I use and like from other Myles Ahead articles that you may find helpful.
With love and light,
Tennesha Skyers also known as TeeSkyers is a Canadian artist and philanthropist. In 2013,
Tennesha Skyers started creating art. As a black female artist, she has seen the obstacles
artists of color face. Having always had a passion for entrepreneurship, Tennesha immediately set out to create art that represents and empowers poc and give back to marginalized artists.
Tennesha Skyers has studied art at OCAD University. She has also studied art in Paris, Los
Angeles, London, Miami, New York, Atlanta, Venice, Rome, Florence, Barcelona, Vancouver
and Vienna. Tennesha Skyers has received multiple grants and awards for her art. Her art is
collected privately and in museums internationally. Tennesha Skyers’ charity Donating Bags
Filled with Art Supplies has donated art supplies around the world.