5 Ways to Love Yourself Through Depression

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I wrote this article last week after a year of blogging about stuff like food, kids and salt scrubs. To say I was nervous as I hit the ‘publish’ button would be an understatement. I was terrified that by essentially “coming out of the closet” as a person who lives with chronic depression, I’d lose most of my readership. I mean this is, after all, a mommy blog.

But what actually happened shocked me. So many people (and many of them were also mommys!) could relate, that I had the most views on my blog I’ve ever had. I had people thank me, and many people shared the article which, at this time, is going semi-viral.

So while I plan to continue writing about food and kids and crafting and all the other things you’d expect to find on a mommy blog, you can expect some more posts from me like this too. Because I think we feel better when we talk about the hard things and not just about the fun things.

Last week’s post How to Show Love to Someone With Depression was helpful for a lot of people, but some people commented that they were very much alone and need ways to get through depression without help.

And many people who suffer from depression are alone, because there is such a stigma surrounding mental illness. It’s frequently viewed as a character flaw, a weakness, or a figment of the sufferer’s imagination.

I’ve certainly been there. And I can tell you, the internet was NOT helpful. I think maybe we need less articles written by psychologists, and more written by actual depressed people.

So here are five things you can do all on your own to help yourself through the dark times. I hope you find them helpful, and if you have more to add, please comment below.

 1. Give something away to someone who could use it.

I know this sounds silly at first. Shouldn’t I be telling you to buy yourself something instead? Well no. Giving something away will help you in several ways. First, you will feel better because you helped someone. Second, say, for example, you have gained or lost weight and have clothes in your closet that don’t fit. Or an exercise bike you only use to hang your laundry on. Or a lamp you hate but keep because it was a gift. Now you have clutter and guilt to deal with. Neither of which are helping you feel better. Last, remember that the Universe HATES a vacuum. If you give something away, I promise you will always get something better back. Examples of places you can gift are The Buy Nothing Project, local women’s shelters or Goodwill.

2. Automate Whatever You Can.

If you are depressed and alone, things like grocery shopping can sometimes feel too difficult. But running out of toilet paper never put anyone in a better mood. Try experimenting with putting a few things you use frequently on Subscribe and Save. Look into grocery delivery programs or online ordering options for grocery stores near you. In my town, Vons will deliver your groceries for a small fee, but you can try out the service for free. Your order history is also saved so you don’t have to make a list every time you need groceries. Forgetfulness and losing track of time are common for depressed people. Try inputting your appointments into Google calendar so you don’t forget appointments (or forget to make appointments).

3. Go Outside Barefoot.

I’m not going to tell you to exercise. It’s great advice, and it would help you feel better, but from personal experience I can tell you that asking me to work out when I’m depressed is like telling a drowning person to breathe. However I could manage to spend a few minutes barefoot in my yard every day. Between the benefits of earthing and vitamin D from the sun, you will feel better. Many depressed people are very deficient in vitamin D, and living around so many electrical devices can really mess with your body’s own electricity, which is corrected by being barefoot in the dirt. If you should happen to feel like taking a walk or stretching once you are outside, so much the better.

4. Make Healthy Food a Priority

You may want to live off of frozen pizza and beer, but that’s only going to make you feel worse. Keep a small list of no-effort meals you like. No-effort meals are meals that don’t require chopping, grating, peeling or any complicated cooking. You just dump them and wait. A few examples of healthy, no-effort meals would be: a roast, a bag of baby carrots, a bag of new potatoes, a bag of green beans and a box of low sodium chicken stock (or homemade if you have it of course) all dumped into a slow cooker before you leave for work, a bag of mixed vegetables stir fried with fresh or frozen chicken tenders and coconut aminos, a pork shoulder roast slow cooked with chicken broth, Brussels sprouts and baby carrots, or a bagged salad and a broiled steak or pork chop.

5. Plan Rewards for Yourself After You Do Something Difficult

If you don’t feel like you can make it through a day at work, a day parenting or whatever other adult responsibility your day holds for you, plan a reward for yourself for after you’re done. This is different for everyone, but could be time with a book you’d like to read, painting your nails a new color, taking a detox bath with uplifting essential oils, watching a funny movie (this may not be a good time to watch a sad movie!) or treating yourself to a bar of dark chocolate. I don’t recommend rewarding yourself with junk food, alcohol or video games. They may make you feel better momentarily, but they will not help you out of your depressed state.

Last of all, remember you are worthy. Don’t listen to people who tell you that you just need to pray or stop being selfish or that you are crazy. You have an illness and you deserve to manage it with dignity.

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About Kelley

Hi! I'm Kelley. Real foodie and crunchy mom to a teenager and a toddler. My husband and I live in Southern California.


  1. Nice, especially like the no effort meals, because, when you are going through a depressive phase, the last thing you can do is expend effort. Many Mickey D, drive thru meals have graced our table when I was depressed.

  2. Great post and good tips…..and you definitely hit the nail on the head for me. You have a new follower!

  3. Hi, just wondering if you’ve been tested for pyrrole disorder aka kryptopyrrole aka pyroluria? It’s a surprisingly common genetic metabolic disorder affecting zinc and B6 (and thus, the seratonin and melatonin levels) – especially amongst those with depression, schizophrenia, bipolar, ADD, ADHD and other emotional/behavioural problems – yet alarmingly unknown, sometimes even by the medical profession. And it affects largely women πŸ™ Whilst I don’t have chronic depression, I have had depression twice, the second time bordering on suicide. That’s along with other dark periods in my life and just struggling in general, exacerbated, I now realise, by my undiagnosed pyroluria. I only found out this year I have it, but learning this has been such a relief and a massive validation for how I’ve been feeling my whole life! With proper nutritional supplements and a supportive lifestyle (eg – yoga, good sleep, positive psychological health practices), I’m feeling MUCH better, in control and more capable dealing with life. I urge anyone who has depression to investigate pyroluria. It’s basically a mineral deficiency which, when properly addressed, can dramatically reduce your needless suffering.

    • As someone who has suffered with depression my whole life, I am interesting in checking this out. However, I must say that I also found it a little off putting. It is frustrating when people try to explain away depression rather than just listening. While I wouldn’t say withholding this information is wise either, I would recommend not making it your first response if someone tells you they have clinical depression.

      • When people come upon a big lightbulb moment, they are often very excited to share! The truth is, depression is an incredibly complex illness that could be rooted in any number of things. Vitamin D deficiency, not enough good fat in the diet, and what Anon said could all be root causes of depression. It’s very individual and people need to find what works for them individually!

  4. Love this, thanks for sharing, I especially like the no effort meal idea! I do roasts quite often, but never thought to buy the baby potatoes that didn’t need any prep! One thing I’ve found helpful is having a list of easy meals that I can rotate, it takes away the effort of having to think of what to make.

  5. As I posted in the article which was about helping those with depression, listening to music and meditation aps have helped me (Andrew Johnson aps – bonus sounds like Sean Connery). But I should add that I also talk to my therapist, take medication, and just let a lot of things go, as needed. I accept my limitations and focus my energy on what’s most important, my boys. Laundry – does it really need to be sorted? Food – I am a master of 10 minute healthy meals for my kids. Work – I have found some that I can do on my time, for the most part. I am also blessed with wonderful sisters and friends. Thank you for this post. You are brave. I hope it has brought you great happiness knowing that you have helped so many.

    • I’ve made some unconventional life changes so I can work with my limited energy as well. Working from home, not expecting perfection from myself and not overextending myself have been major for me. Thank you for your comment!

      • Kelley, I’m glad you’ve been able to work from home while fighting depression….I seem to find that I have a harder time motivating myself while alone and then that becoming a vicious cycle. Even though not expecting perfection, I still find that I’ll beat myself up for not being able to get things done on my own. Maybe more of mine comes from living alone and no longer having my husband be my cheerleader (he passed away 6 yrs. ago)…..but he was my biggest cheerleader. Just wondering if you have any tips for helping motivate yourself working at home. Thanks for your posts on this….good food for discussion.

        • I find that setting goals and being accountable to someone are two things that motivate me. I have a group of bloggers I talk with daily on facebook and they keep me motivated. I also enjoy what I do, so that helps.

          I’m so sorry about your husband.

  6. Another good list! Giving something away stirs those satisfying brain chemicals & affords a bit of connection, as well as reducing clutter. As long as choosing something doesn’t become an agonizing task, as so many things are when you’re depressed! Also, some times, rewarding yourself seems meaningless. If you’re experiencing anhedonia or having real issues with feeling worthless, it might feel like another “thing you’re unable to do.” Of course, few helpful tips apply to every situation. Just pointing out possible ways people can beat themselves up.

    Automating certain necessary tasks is a great idea. Auto-refill (and even free delivery) of meds is an absolute godsend. I’ve been on anticonvulsants & antidepressants for decades, and have found myself without refills a number of times. As much as I might hate being on meds, being in withdrawal is 10 times worse. At that point, fixing the situation is even harder than it was originally.

    • That’s a perfect suggestion for automating! And you’re right, anhedonia sucks. It really just depends on where you’re at, whether rewarding yourself would apply or not.

  7. anonymous says:

    I have battled depression for over 20 years. These last two years have been a downward spiral that has brought me to now. The lowest point I’ve ever been. I am having a tough time getting out. I reached out for help; I am seeing counselors and doctors almost daily but I feel like I will never win. They keep telling me it’s a marathon not a sprint but I feel like I’m not even in the race.
    I am looking for ways to help me win. I want to fight. I am doing everything the doctors tell me to do. Any advice from those going through it? Looking from the inside out?
    Its been almost four weeks since I went in asking for help and I want to get back on my feet; I want to feel like myself again. Am I pushing it?
    I guess I’m just looking for someone to talk to who understands what it feels like πŸ™

    • My heart goes out to you. I’ve honestly been there, and it did take a long time to get to the other side. I found a mix of traditional and alternative methods was what worked for me. I had to look at my whole life and eliminate a lot of things that weren’t helping me. It was (and is) a marathon. And I don’t know if you ever finish it. If you want a place to talk in the future, we have a forum now. It’s still in its infancy, so not super active, but hopefully it will pick up speed! https://thedarlingbakers.com/forum/

  8. Last summer was my rock bottom. I ended up in Mental Health after a suicide attempt. My work was too overwelming. My family life sucked because my daughter lied to my parents and everybody quit talking to me for months. My boyfriend (now ex and is now the sad one…how ironic) thought it was all in my head and that I should just get over it. He even went to see Paul McCartney while I was in the hospital and gave my ticket away…I had NO support. I was drinking and crying lots every day, passing out, getting up and going to work, then coming home and doing it all over again. I don’t have any close friends to talk to, either. I saw psychriatrists and councelors. I took antidepressants that made me throw up every time. Neither one of those were the answer. I started taking fermented cod liver oil and a vitamin D supplement and totally changed my diet. I am probably the happiest I have been in a long time. I also didn’t seem to suffer from that seasonal disorder this winter, either. I can get out and do stuff or be content to stay home and without a bottle of vodka!! I still talk to my ex and we occasionally do stuff together. I think people have to find what works for their own selves. I know it’s hard.