Helping your recovery
Emerging from the Fog
Finding your way out of the seemingly endless fog of being mentally unwell can feel overwhelming. Small steps mean a lot. They are runs on the board. No matter what is going on for you, If you can manage to do just one of these things that I am suggesting below , you are moving forward.
First and foremost, stop beating yourself up. Would you beat yourself up if you had a broken leg or diabetes? Mental illness is a very real. You cant just snap out of it. If you could you would. No one likes feeling miserable. It's awful. So when you start noticing (that means paying attention!) that you are having thoughts of being down on yourself for not being able to get on and do all the things that you think you should be doing or for feeling low , Dont ! You dont need to do that to yourself. You already feel bad enough. This means accepting that this is where you are right now ( 'Radical acceptance ' as Marsha Linehan termed it). However, this does not mean accepting that you have to stay here for ever. It just means that you are going to cut yourself some slack for being unwell at the moment.
Secondly, try not to hang out in bed or on the couch all day. You may feel you dont have the energy or the inclination to do anything else and that you want to hide away from the world, but I promise you it will only make you feel worse. The nature of depression is that we become very inwardly focussed so plan to get up at a reasonable hour , have a shower and eat breakfast. I cannot stress enough how much this will help. What we are looking for here are small moments when you are able to think "Ime glad I did that. I feel a little better ". I will be truthful, these moments may not last and you may feel awful again before you know it, but isnt a little reprieve better than nothing? Have enough of these small moments and you will start to feel encouraged that there maybe a way out of this and light at the end of the tunnel.
OK this next one is a hard (I know, they all are when you feeling low).
Get moving Get up now! The evidence is that exersise improves mood. Some studies have even shown that it is comparable to antidepressants in lifting mood. The good thing is that you dont have to join a gym or run a marathon. Just going for a daily walk will help. If you are not use to exersising start off slow and build up to a good half hour of brisk walking. Getting outside is great because getting out of the house is great. Remember how I said depression keeps you inwardly focused ? So doing things that are going to put you out in the world (even when it is the last thing you feel like doing) and focusing outside of your self, looking at the trees etc will help. If you have any bush or beach around you get double the benefit because other studies have shown that being in nature also improves our mood.
Develop your own personal 'Survival tool box' of self soothing and distracting strategies. When you are at your lowest you may not have the capacity to do anything but get to the next moment, and the moment after that. Having a personal ' tool box ' of strategies that you can use will help get you through these times. So when your feeling Ok, make a list of things that usually comfort and soothe you. Put your list somewhere that you can easily access when you need it. What we are looking at here are simple things that will not require a lot of effort. Its important to have a few of them up your sleeve because sometimes when you are feeling low , things that usually make you feel better may not work or only for a short time. Being warm, having a shower, drinking hot chocolate, listening to calming or soothing music, patting the dog or cat, watching a video, listening to calming sounds like rain falling or waves crashing on an app. You get the idea.
Dont believe everything you think. Just because you thought it, doesnt make it true. We can choose to believe what ever we want. Our brains have this amazing capacity to be creative and generate thoughts that may have no real basis in reality. Imagination is great if used for the creative process, not so good if used to destroy any positive sense of self worth. So how do you know what to believe? Be a critic and not about yourself but about your thoughts. Are they really true? What evidence do I have and is that evidence reliable or not.
Connect. Talk with somebody. It can be hard to reach out but you might be surprised to find out just how many other people maybe experiencing, or have in the past, times when they have really struggled with life. If you dont have anyone you feel safe in talking with, think about joining a support group which has been set up for people struggling with similar things as youself. The 'Meetups Perth' website have many different groups for people who feel isolated or struggling with depression and / or anxiety.
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