“I know what things make me a little bit happier.”
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.”
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I definitely think I'll have
depression for the rest of my life.
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I just am learning how to deal
with it on a day-to-day, and
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seeing how it can get better every week.
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I like to do a lot of natural healing.
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I do meditation, I garden.
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I like to chat, and
just have real conversations with
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people about what's going on internally,
so I don't fill stuck or trapped inside.
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I created Sad Girls Club because I
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felt like if I had community like this
growing up, I would feel less alone.
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I would feel less isolated.
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And I think it's important for us to have
these conversations at younger ages and
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bring people together who are experiencing
similar things because I think we learn
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through other people's either mistakes or
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their stories can be so,
so helpful to everyone.
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I absolutely have those low days where
I feel like I can't get out of bed and
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I don't know how I'm gonna accomplish
everything that's on my to-do list for
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the day, but
I just have my depression toolkit.
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I know what things make
me a little bit happier.
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I know who to reach out
to if I am feeling down,
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and that's been just super helpful for me.
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I think the main difference from
before and now is that I have tips and
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tricks to help me feel a bit better and
I have people I can talk to about this.
00:01:41,275 --> 00:01:46,295
I am more aware of what I'm experiencing
and I can basically pull myself out of it.
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Before I had a personal tool kit,
I would just kind of stick to myself and
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keep everything internal, and now I'm able
to speak about things more openly and
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freely with the people around me.
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Complementary & alternative treatments. Silver Spring, MD: Anxiety and Depression Association of America. (Accessed on October 15, 2018 at https://adaa.org/finding-help/treatment/complementary-alternative-treatment.)
Depression treatment. National Alliance on Mental Health. (Accessed on October 15, 2018 at https://www.nami.org/Learn-More/Mental-Health-Conditions/Depression/Treatment.)