Thursday, March 31, 2011

How to cope with depression

When I realised that I would repeatedly suffer from episodes of depression, I decided that since there were very few upsides to it, I would provide myself with some. I really enjoyed making my 'Comfort Box'. It was great fun and the best part is, I can keep adding to it :)
My Comfort Box is in fact, a rather lovely wicker basket and it contains all the things that I know I can do, even when I am down. It does what it says on the tin-comforts me.
Child striking a pose in a purple and green superhero costumeFor example; I love to read but cannot do so when I am 'on a downer' as it takes too much concentration. I have always had a love of cartoons, Calvin and Hobbes being an obsession- but I already owned every strip that Bill Watterson had ever produced and had read it ten times over. So, I had a great time searching ebay , Amazon and second hand shops to find Garfield, Andy Capp, Peanuts, Fred Basset.....and the list goes on. They are tiny pieces of chuckle fuelled philosophy that my mind can cope with. Once I did that, I realised that during very bad episodes, concentrating on sketching my own cartoons helped calm the savage mind and so I bought a sketch pad and pencils and they went into the box.
One thing that can instantly lift my spirits is a lovely, musky smell. So my box is filled with bath bombs- ready for when I need them most- and perfume sachets that I can stick in my handbag or under my pillow .Oxfam do a great range and I also bought lots of crafty bits there, including great wooden stamps as well as incense gift sets for myself (    My Comfort Box smells great! That new awareness of how smells affect me, led me to spend a fortune in Lush for day to day living and to help keep me on an even keel    since they do blocks of deodorant that smell of patchouli and solid perfumes that are woody or musky (I can't bear those flowery commercial scents that by and large make you smell like an old lady). It might not be cheap but it was worth every penny in mental health terms.(
There's the odd gardening design book , just to enjoy the pictures of nature and good weather and for the same reason, a Conde Nast magazine or two.
I used to love sitting with my kids watching Pingu, so there's a  box set of DVD's- I have no shame as far as Pingu is concerned! Similarly, I enjoy my Postman Pat compendium. I used to live in the Welsh valleys as a student and could swear that I saw his little van surfing the mountains from time to time.
For all the big things that didn't fit in the box, I cut up lots of greeting cards with benign and relaxing or funny photos on them and wrote a prompt on the back of each one to make flashcards.Dog wearing a party hat and surrounded by balloons and streamersFor example -  "Craft kit on top of kitchen cupboard" (I don't remember the kitchen cupboard when I am down, much less the craft kit!) or "Call Tracy and tell her how you are feeling" or "Paint a mural on the kitchen cupboard" and even " Scream.....loudly and long".  I also listed every calming and relaxing CD that I own, including Sufjan Stevens CD that I instantly loved.
My 'Meditation for Dummies' book came with a brilliant CD that gives 9 different guided meditations, from lying down, to sitting to walking. It never fails to work wonders.
The experience of putting my Comfort Box together was a reassuring and fulfilling one. I spoiled myself and bought myself gifts, knowing that it was therapeutic and would help the whole family in the long run. Indulgence was guilt free. It also helped me to value myself by acknowledging what was important to me.

So, have yourself a think.... what is it that you would put in your box? It doesn't need to cost a fortune if you can shop second hand or online.  People often want ideas for gifts at Christmas or on birthdays. I keep my basket next to my bed and no-one is allowed to 'borrow' from it.
My last piece of advice is don't be too precious about saving it for a rainy day, for often that day has arrived and we fail to recognise it. Your Comfort Box may just stop days from going from light shower to deluge. Still if you can come up with a better name for it, I'd appreciate it. Currently it sounds a little like a risque episode of  'Little House on the Prairie'.
Animation image of a young boy changing expressions


  1. I love this idea :) so glad you directed me here.

    I have lots of little treasures scattered around or in drawers but I have the perfect chest for them that I can keep by my bed.

    I think I'd have lots of smellies too and my Shaun the Sheep DVD's, a couple of Sainsburys mags .... hmm, and other stuff :) x

  2. I am glad.
    Enjoy it and find an amusing photo and write on the back 'PP thinks I'm frikkin fantastic!' xx

  3. Feeling a little low so I came back for another read and saw your comment.

    It made me smile :) and I have the PERFECT picture for this. Thank you xx


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