A buddy in the battle against depression

Last summer, I took a great big leap out of my comfort zone and did some public speaking at a place in London that I’d never been to before.

I am not a keen public speaker, but on this occasion I had something to say, about something important, so my nerves just had to play second fiddle.

It seemed appropriate that the event in question was taking place in Churchill’s War Rooms, as my talk was about a battle. A very personal battle. It was about depression and self-care – that constant battle to look after yourself when you’re in depression’s cruel grip.

My talk was based on what I’d learned from my own experiences of depression, and was part of an event organised by the Blurt Foundation, an organisation close to my heart.

Blurt supports people with depression, and its brilliant founders, Jayne and Dom Hardy, are always coming up with great ideas to help other people. One such idea was Blurt’s email mentoring scheme, which was a great help to me when I needed to blurt out how I was feeling to someone who would understand, without having to worry my family and friends.

I’ve discovered in recent months that I need a ‘psychological first aid kit’ (as my counsellor put it) – a checklist of things I will do to help myself stay well – self-care, in fact. In my case, that’s things like going walking and birdwatching, watching terrible-quality disaster movies, drawing, writing in my diary and trying to keep up with some meditation to help me relax and live in the present.

The latest great idea from Blurt is partly about self-care and partly about caring for someone else. It’s called BuddyBox.

It’s a simple concept. There’s a box, with things in it that might help you relax or sleep, or could comfort, inspire or surprise you. You can either buy BuddyBoxes as a gift for a friend who’s struggling, to show you’re thinking of them and to give them a small boost, or you can buy them for yourself, to help you gently fight that battle I was talking about earlier.

Now, Blurt will be the first people to tell you that depression cannot be treated with things – but things like those found in a BuddyBox can be a chink of light in an otherwise dark day.

So, what’s in a BuddyBox? Well, the contents are different each month, but I can tell you what was in mine:

  • A box of chamomile tea – perfect timing as I’m cutting down on caffeine at the moment. I’m having a cup as I write this and very nice it is too.
  • Some sleep balm, and a lavender-scented bag, both to aid sleep. I’m not having difficulty sleeping at the moment, but when I was having regular bouts of insomnia I’d have welcomed any new tricks to help me get back to sleep.
  • My favourite thing – a mindfulness colouring book and some colouring pencils. I’ve always loved drawing and colouring things in, and earlier this year I bought myself a colouring book (a grown-up one, of course). The idea is that colouring distracts you and gets you doing something you enjoy – which helps you stay in the moment, rather than worrying about the past or future. Unfortunately, the book I bought brought out the perfectionist in me, as the patterns were intricate, detailed and required great concentration – but the one in my BuddyBox is perfect. There’s a range of different patterns, some that need very little focus and some that I can get more absorbed in.

BuddyBox is available from the Blurt Foundation by subscription. You can choose to subscribe monthly, quarterly, six-monthly or annually. Read what other people thought of their first BuddyBox.

My BuddyBox from the Blurt Foundation.

My BuddyBox from the Blurt Foundation.

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4 Comments on “A buddy in the battle against depression”

  1. […] in that. All of the things in my list are a kind of self-care. It’s also worth trying a regular BuddyBox, either for yourself or someone else. BuddyBox is a new initiative from my friends at the Blurt […]

  2. jjgbirder says:

    Thank you for your writing. As a birder who has only recently (2 major bouts in last 4 years) been diagnosed with depression / anxiety disorders (OCD with perfectionist tendencies), it helps to know their are others with similar experiences, that I am not alone, and that it is possible to live life with these chronic illnesses in successful, fulfilling way. Thank you.

  3. […] after yourself. You’re important.’ is a reminder to people like me that we need to be kind to ourselves and not to be so self-critical. We’re happy to praise other people and show them kindness but […]


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