My Depression Toolkit: Elyse Fox Shares the Habits that Help Her Cope

“I know what things make me a little bit happier.”

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Hobbies and interests add enjoyment to life, but for someone with depression, engaging in those interests can actually serve as treatment to keep symptoms at bay. These hobbies, passions, and interests are a “toolkit” for living with depression, according to Elyse Fox, activist and founder of the Sad Girls Club.

 Fox, who describes herself as “the quiet girl with the camera,” started Sad Girls Club to encourage conversation among women about living with a mental illness. Mental health was not discussed in her home growing up, and her film “Conversations with Friends” documents her struggle with depression and urges people to unite and speak up.

“I absolutely have those low days where I feel like I can’t get out of bed and I don’t know how I’m going to accomplish everything that’s on my to-do list for the day,” says Fox.

That’s where her depression toolkit comes in: “I know what things make me a little bit happier; I know who to reach out to if I am feeling down, and that’s been just super helpful for me.”

A toolkit for living with depression looks different for everyone: It’s composed of the things that mean something to you as an individual. The toolkit can be used proactively to avoid slipping into depression ruts, but you can also pull the toolkit out on bad days, like a first aid kit for your depression.

There’s debate over the best method to treat depression, and it differs for each person. They may benefit from medication, they may respond well to therapy, or they may find relief with a depression toolkit—a collection of lifestyle routines that nurture positivity, inspiration, and strength. For many people, alleviating depression may depend on a combination of these methods.

“I like to do a lot of natural healing,” says Fox. “I do meditation, I garden, I like to chant, and [I like to] just have real conversations with people about what’s going on internally so I don’t feel stuck or trapped inside.”

For other people, a depression toolkit might involve photography, journaling, painting, running, cooking, playing with a pet, watching movies, volunteering, breathing exercises, reading, or even cleaning.

Fox knows depression may be a lifelong struggle, but she believes she is in a better place now. “I think the main difference from before and now is that I have tips and tricks to help me feel a bit better and have people I can talk to about this,” says Fox. “I am more aware of what I’m experiencing and I can basically pull myself out of it.”