- It’s okay to identify as disabled: Zoe
- Basketball, photography and more: How Charlie’s life ‘restarted’ through Mable
- Paralympics, arts and more: How Nick does what he loves with Mable
- Reviewing cafes for accessibility: How Ashlee is pursuing her passion
- Guitar, martial arts, yoga: Skills Nissa is learning with support through Mable
Sign up to have the latest news, articles and resources delivered to your inbox.
I am a queer non-binary human, with lived experience of depression and anxiety. I call them ‘black dogs’.
Those of us with depression and anxiety often feel that black dogs are scratching at the door of our minds, trying to get in.
We can barricade the door, but sometimes they sneak in and wreak havoc on your brain, eating at your happiness, will, motivation and your self-esteem – the very things that make you, you.
They can turn your life upside down. I have had my fair share of black dogs and they have come in different forms.
So in this article, I am going to share a few tricks that help me.
Do things that make you happy
To keep the black dog off your doorstep, try sprinkling some psychological ‘keep off’ to repel your unwanted house guest.
Do the things you love, things that are wholesome, and that make you feel good.
For me, just sitting outside and taking a break with some music helps.
Using music to discover new genres or to go down the memory lane with some nostalgic tracks can help get your mind in a better space.
Everyone is different, so focus on your passion. Perhaps it’s playing a musical instrument, making art, spending time with pets, gardening, journalling or writing. Every one of these things can be cathartic.
These things can help to pass the time for as little or as much time as you feel like. It is up to you.
Step away from responsibility for a bit
Let go of responsibilities now and then. This is especially important if like me, you care for others.
It is okay and really beneficial to take time out as carers to care for ourselves.
If we don’t look after ourselves, our mental and physical health suffers, and if we don’t care for ourselves, we can’t care for others.
Keeping your bedroom (and your mind) dog fluff free
We’ve all heard the old sleep hygiene mantra over the years.
I was one of those who was like ‘I’m not doing that, I’ll go to sleep when I want’.
I would sleep until 11 am and wonder why I couldn’t sleep until 2 am!
I’m here to tell you — sleep hygiene actually works.
Here are some tips to help you:
- Turn off your TV and mobile and other screens an hour before bed. They emit blue light that affects your body clock.
- Set your alarm for the same time every day and commit to it. Use a dimmer or get a lamp that shines gentle light.
- Have things in your room that make you feel calm and cosy, like soft pillows, candles or even a soft toy.
It only takes a couple of weeks for your body clock to sort itself out. What have you got to lose? Not sleep!
Reach out when you’re struggling with depression or anxiety.
Putting on the mask is exhausting. It doesn’t allow you to be how you feel, it creates more stress. And sometimes, you just can’t do it anymore.
Sometimes, you just need to let yourself be.
It can be hard to reach out when we’re going through a ‘ruff’ time. We can worry about being a burden, worrying people. We may think they won’t have the time or that they don’t care.
But don’t give up on asking. Keep trying until you find the right person, whether it’s a family member, friend or your support team.
People will want to help you. By saying to someone ‘hey, this is going on’, at least people can be aware, check in with you, it gives you a chance to chat about things if you want.
It allows you to start the conversation.
For queer folk that might be reading this and want a safe chat, you could reach out to a queer friendly organisation, like QLife or Switchboard.
I’ve found them to be great, and they specialise in supporting the LGBTQIA+ community, and we all deserve support specific to us.
I hope these tricks help you get through the merry go round of life. And in case you haven’t heard it today, know that you matter.
Charlie has always loved writing. They are passionate about sharing their lived experience with mental health issues, addiction, and being neurodivergent and queer, through writing.
They are keen to share their experience of challenges of the mental health system, the NDIS and the education system. They hope these will help others on a similar journey.
They also love sports, music, hanging out with family, friends and support workers, and their cat, Poppy.