As you may know by now, I have dealt with depression in my teens and early twenties. Those years have been the hardest for me but also the most educational because I had to learn how to take care of myself and train my mindset.
Dealing with depression as a vegan can be pretty hard because you already have dark thoughts and are struggling with seeing the light, so knowing how much animals suffer is not exactly helpful to your recovery.
When I went vegan I was already recovering and was far away from the dark years, but depression came back once I learnt about the cruelty behind what I ate, wore and bought. I wrote quite a bit about how I dealt with depression in my totally free ebook From Feeling Low to Living Green, which you can get for free here, so in this post, I will mostly focus on how YOU can deal with it.
The most important thing that I want you to remember when dealing with depression as a vegan is to know that you must become your first priority. You need to help yourself first before you go out and help other animals. It’s not selfishness; it’s called compassion for an animal. Yourself.
I won’t go into whether or not one should take drugs when depressed, because I can get pretty controversial and quite honestly I don’t feel like being controversial today, but I will say one thing: don’t depend on the pills.
Here are three things to remember when dealing with depression as a vegan:
- Stay in your comfort zone and do not push yourself to do something for other animals if you absolutely feel uncomfortable doing so.
- Do not punish yourself for listening to my first advice.
- This one might seem like it doesn’t fit with the first one, but it actually does and it is to do things in spite of being depressed and feeling like a certain situation might trigger it even more.
Remove yourself from those who trigger you – I would know that since I was friends with someone who convinced me that I was depressed and I suddenly wasn’t once they left – and choose time alone over a bad company.
Does veganism trigger depression? Perhaps for some people; perhaps it does trigger it for those of us who have dealt with it before, or for those people who are very sensitive and prone to suffering from depression in their lifetime (its science). But it does not cause it just out of the blue.
But let’s talk a bit about the third tip, you know, the one where I told you to do things in spite of being depressed because of them.
Look, if you hide and protect yourself from seeing the bad things or getting yourself in a situation where you feel triggered and weak, you will never have even a slight chance at recovering yourself from this mental disorder.
You know that silly saying that the best way of getting over someone is getting under someone else? Well, think of depression as your ex and a situation that triggers you as your new love interest. The best way of recovering from your mental disorder is by getting distracted and not paying attention to it and just doing it. The more you are focused on what makes you depressed, the more you will be depressed.
Of course, people are different and there are different levels of depression, but as Dr Claire Weekes says: “You who are suffering and read this, turn your attention to the way you think, not to your feelings. Come to terms with your attitude, and your feelings will look after themselves.”
The way I understand her and the way I took her advice from her books is by not listening to how I felt when faced with a situation that triggered my depression but to listen to my mind who was telling me how I shouldn’t do it and telling it to shut the f up and then doing it anyway. The feelings will go away, but your mind is the one that keeps you depressed as it encourages you to stay hidden and never confront the disorder itself.
Pills can only do so much.
If you are interested in meditation, here are the resources that I recommend.