Thursday, 7 August 2014

Ashley James shares her advice on beating depression and anxiety in her latest Metro blog

TV star Ashley James offers advice on overcoming depression
Ashley James offers advice on overcoming depression and anxiety (Picture: Ashley James)
Ashley James is best known for starring in E4’s hit show Made In Chelsea when she joined the cast for a whirlwind two series, leaving in 2013. Aside from Chelsea, she’s also a model, TV presenter and blogger. After opening up on her battle with depression and anxiety in her blog last week, here she offers advice on how she overcame these issues. 
I have been overwhelmed by the support and positive comments I have received in their hundreds since publishing my blog post last Monday. Amazingly I haven’t come across one negative comment, which is quite surprising in our world of trolling. So firstly I want to thank each and every one of you who took the time to get in touch with me.
I talked in the post about the overwhelming feeling of isolation and loneliness I felt. What’s astonishing to see from those who got in touch is that nearly everybody either went through the same, or knew someone who was suffering and was struggling to understand their torment until they read my blog. So try not to feel lonely, as you are very much not alone.
I thought it might be useful in my next post to offer you advice on what helped me out of the darkness. Please take into account that this is my personal opinion based on my individual experience only.
Get into a routine
Implement structure and routine into your life. For me I found going for a run in the morning helped, as well as preparing and eating healthy food.
Act on what’s making you unhappy
Make a brainstorm of everything that’s troubling you or having a negative impact in your life. This could be an unhappy relationship, friendship, job, money…. Whatever it is make plans on how to change them. Don’t do anything too drastic as that might leave you feeling worse or lost. In my case, my relationship wasn’t making me happy, so I ended it. I had a friend who always brought me down so I distanced myself and focused my energy on friends who made me feel good. I was in a career I wasn’t passionate about, so I took holiday and did a presenting course to kick-start my presenting career. Small steps are fine, and remember that life is a journey not a destination so enjoy the steps you make that get you towards your goals.
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Ashley, pictured here with friends, says it’s important to reflect on your life and work out what’s making you unhappy (Picture: Ashley James)
Obviously if you hate reading then look at something else – audiobooks, films etc. For me, reading kept my mind focused on something other than my own thoughts. Sometimes I’d read a book a day. Crime thrillers are my favourite as I get totally enraptured in the world and become desperate to uncover the story.
Take up a hobby
Sometimes anxiety or depression can be amplified when you have too much time to sit and over-think. Learning something new occupies your mind, gives you something to look forward to and learn, and also opens your horizons to new people. Perhaps you’d want to start writing, start a YouTube channel, take up dance classes, go on a photography or make-up course…. The list of things you could do is endless, and a hobby may turn into a career.
We weren’t made to sleep; we were made to rest
If you can’t sleep, don’t stress about it as you’ll work yourself up more. Listen to music or an audiobook, and just relax. Harry Potter audiobooks are the best because you can listen to the sweet sweet sound of Stephen Fry’s voice. When I was 8 years old at boarding school I couldn’t sleep one night and got so upset. My dorm captain, a twelve year old girl, told me: we weren’t made to sleep we were made to rest. That’s stuck with me ever since. Think of times when you’ve stayed up late partying, chatting, or watching back to back episodes of 24 – you got through the next day then, and lying in bed is much more relaxing.
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Ashley says try not to stress out unnecessarily (Picture: Ashley James)
See a psychic
You may be cynical, and I was too, but a friend recommended I go see a lady called Katy Winterbourne. She pinpointed things that were troubling me, and left me feeling focused on an exciting future. I still go see a lady called Elizabeth Caroline who incorporates facials with chakra and aura readings – she offers me a wonderful sense of insight and clarity.
Don’t expect other people to help you
It can be easy to blame your friends or partner for not supporting or helping you out of your torment. Don’t. You have to understand that dealing with someone with anxiety or depression can be draining and exhausting, it doesn’t mean they don’t love you. Source your own happiness.
Write a memory book
Everyday write down the three most positive things about the day. It could be something minor like a stranger saying bless you, or your friend telling you you look beautiful. When you’re feeling low, read through it.

I’m sure there are a million other ways that can get you through your depression, and I’d love you to share them in the comments below. As I’ve learnt, you are very much not alone, so let’s all help each other.

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