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‘Full House’ Star Shares the Habit She Embraced After Depression Stole Her Happiness

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Known for playing goofy Kimmy Gibbler on the popular sitcom “Full House,” and its current reboot “Fuller House,” actress Andrea Barber recently opened up to InStyle about a more serious topic — how she manages her depression.

In a personal essay, the actress wrote that she’s struggled with anxiety for most of her life, and experiences depression seasonally. “Depression is a thief,” she told the publication. “A thief of happiness. A thief of hope. A thief of a life well lived.”

Barber said there’s no “single prescription” she uses to manage her depression. Adding that she’s tried medication, talk therapy, meditation, prayer and self-help books. What ultimately made the biggest difference though, was running.

When I crossed the finish line of my first full marathon, I cried. I cried not because of the pain, not because of everything I had lost. I cried with the realization of everything I had gained.

For Barber, running is more than a temporary release of endorphins. She says it actually taught her how to be resilient — a skill that can help a person move forward, even slowly, when they’re experiencing depression.

Running helped me find an inner strength I didn’t know I possessed. It taught me to become more comfortable with things that make me uncomfortable, like pain. It taught me how to endure; how to keep moving forward no matter how much it hurt. It showed me the difference between fearing loneliness and embracing solitude. It taught me that I cannot always change my life’s circumstances, but I can change myself…

Running has been the single greatest thing I have done for my mental health. Therapy has always been healing by helping me discover my triggers for anxiety and depression and giving me the tools to combat them. Meditation helps me stay in the present moment and stop worrying about the future. Anti-depressants helped by making me feel less—less sad, less hopeless, less lethargic. Running, however, makes me feel MORE. More alive. More confident. Stronger. Happier.

We wanted to know what other activities helped people grow resilient in the face of depression, so we asked our mental health community to tell us one thing that helps them. Because while doing something you enjoy won’t cure depression, it can help you push through tough moments — and sometimes that small push can make all the difference.

Here’s what they told us: 

1. “As materialistic as it sounds, I’ve started taking pride in my nails. During my most depressive episodes I would bite and pick my nails until they were sore and infected — I did it as a distraction but often took it too far. Recently I’ve started to grow them, and now I enjoy learning new tips and practicing different styles of nail art on myself. It makes me feel proud that just a few months ago my fingers had basically non-existent nails and now they’re pretty gorgeous! I suppose other people might think I spend a lot of time on my beauty and appearance, but actually it’s taken such strength to do this and it does really help to distract me when I’m down.” — Ella K.

2. “Honestly, playing video games and interacting with my people online. It helps having someone to talk to, and the game keeps my mind distracted from the deafening thoughts that constantly swirl around due to my anxiety.” — Ashley B.

3.Roller derby. I joined at one of my lowest points in life, and found not only a community that loves me and really understands mental health and wellness, but a strength in myself that I didn’t know I had. It keeps me active, sure, but it has also allowed me to become more at peace with who I am and what my heart and soul and mind can do.” — Allie M.

4. “Cleaning. I now take joy and find pride in a clean tidy house. And on the really bad days where I can’t even clean, it has to be binge watching TV with comfort foods in the warm, curtains closed and low-level lights on with a comfy blanket and my dressing gown.” — Riley D.

5. “Exercise, and watching ‘The Lord of the Rings’. Both make me feel heroic and help me battle my depression with a little more strength and courage.” — Garrick O.

6. “Coloring! Believe it or not, reliving the old days as a child using a coloring book helps so much! And luckily they have hundreds of adult coloring books available now; even coloring for a half hour can completely change around my mindset.” — Julie K.

7. “Hanging out with my kids. They don’t think the same as us, and when I just go for just a simple walk with them, I listen to their stories, and stop to literally smell the flowers, or watch a bird fly by. It sounds so simple, but it is amazing.” — Morticia A.

8. “Being active. Short and to the point. For me, that’s been vital!” — Johnny L.

9. “I learned to play guitar. It’s not only enjoyable but it’s meant I can write my own song expressing how I feel. Somehow putting it into song is easier than just telling someone in a conversation.” — Teri F.

10. “Reading is the one thing I do when I’m feeling low and need to get away! It opens your imagination to so many different worlds! You can be anyone, do anything, be anywhere all while being tucked up in the comfort of your own bed!” — Sophie H.

11. “Baking. When I get into baking and decorating cakes, I focus my energy on the creativity and work. It gives me a sense of fulfillment to create something, and when I bake for other people, knowing they will enjoy my creations gives me a good feeling that helps ease my soul on the harder days.” — Rebecca B.

12. “I’ve training Brazilian jiu-jitsu for over two years now. It’s given me a great community of people to rely on, plus it’s helped me face fears I may or may not have. When I’m on the mat I can’t worry about everything else going on, I have to worry about surviving that round against my opponent and focus on my technique and breathing.” — Tabitha R.

What would you add?

Image via Wikimedia Commons/Greg2600

Originally published: July 12, 2017
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