The JJs List Blog

Self-Care: First Aid for Depression

Posted by on March 28, 2018 - 8 Comments

Sarah Armour

By: Sarah Armour, Self-Advocate

I had a rough time during the holidays and winter months that resulted in depression. Having depression stinks so much! When I am depressed, I feel like nothing in life really matters. It feels like a dark cloud even when fun or exciting things happen.

Things have settled down now and I should feel great. Instead, I feel down and numb. My brain is yelling at me, “Are you stupid? You are supposed to be beaming with joy now that the anxiety has passed!” The human brain is so big and beautiful, yet it can be so out of control sometimes!

One of the biggest lessons I’m trying to teach myself is accepting the messiness of managing depression. This is all due to a chemical imbalance in my brain. When we get a cut or a bruise, we don’t blame ourselves. Why do we blame ourselves for our depression?

I can always feel depression coming on and I want to push it away, so I don’t have to deal with it. Now I make myself sit with it without judgment. You can’t change how you feel, but you can be prepared.

Evanston Beach

I prepare myself by making sure I prioritize self-care.


The first way I care for myself is through exercise. No matter how you choose to exercise, whether it’s walking, running, swimming or yoga, exercise releases endorphins in your body that make you feel happier. I was never really “an exercise person” until I discovered Zumba. My first Zumba class was magical. It made me feel alive, energized, free, open, and in a happier headspace. Being committed to a class makes me feel accountable.


Relaxation is another important self-care tool for me. I like to take a warm bath with lighted candles. Creating this calming atmosphere makes me feel serene.  It makes me feel like I’m in a cocoon. I also like to spend time by the lake and listen to upbeat music. When I’m by the lake, I feel free. Being connected to nature lets me live in the moment and forget about everything else for a while.  There are lots of different ways to relax. I also like watching my favorite TV shows and movies and reading my favorite books.

At Bat 17 in Evanston with Megan.

Connecting with Others

My final self-care tool is connecting with others. Often when I’m feeling depressed the last thing I want to do is to connect with people. But I challenge myself to make plans with people because it will make me feel better. Sometimes I might warn them how I am feeling. I walk away feeling understood and loved when just a few hours before I wanted to hide from the world.

The bottom line is depression is painful. I should treat my depression like I would a bruise or cut with first aid, self-care, and no judgment about the situation.

About the author: Sarah Armour has been the Business Assistant at since 2011 and she graduated college in 2008 from Loras College.


JJ Hanley says:
Mar 28, 2018

This is a wonderful blog that so many of us should read. Thanks for sharing and for giving us tools to deal with depression.

Julia Joehl says:
Mar 28, 2018

What an excellent description of your problems with depression and the management techniques you have found useful to cope with it. We can all learn from what you have so bravely said, Sarah. Thank you.
Julia Joehl

Sharon Purdy says:
Mar 28, 2018

Thank you for offering these ideas and support for all who are learning to handle depression.

Joan Martin says:
Mar 29, 2018

Many Chicagoans feel like you do during our long dark winter months. Reading about your tools to deal with depression and improve your lifestyle is inspiring and motivating. I’m sure many people will benefit from this post. Thank you!

Brian Rohde says:
Mar 31, 2018

I also have depression. It really kicks in the most in the winter when we get so many cloudy, gray days. The biggest factor that triggers my depression is stress at work and fear of people not accepting me because of my disability. It can be easy to become isolated when we are feeling depressed, but knowing that I have a supportive family has helped me manage depression. Exercise helps, but it can be difficult in the winter when the weather is bad. I enjoy taking my dogs for walks. I’ve found that deep breathing can help me relax because you feel less tense when you take deep breaths. I’ve had to do this at work, especially over the holidays. What I’ve learned is you can’t control other people and you can’t change the fact that you have a disability. You have to think about your strengths and positive achievements to help diminish negativity.

Ellen says:
Apr 04, 2018

I like how you teach and share through personal example. I good reminder to push through when it’s easier to just give in and or up.

Lis says:
Apr 05, 2018

I completely agree with your thoughts about exercise. Sometimes I can get so overwhelmed with the smallest of tasks. Whether they are work related or personal. Any sort of activity- either walking or running always helps me clear my head! I always forget about those happy endorphins!!

Shuling Yong says:
Apr 09, 2018

Thank you for taking the courage to share your story, and for the great tips. This is an important piece that I hope will help others!

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