It’s my first time participating in #NaBloPoMo. To get started, I decided to go with today’s writing prompt and see what happens.
Today’s prompt: When you’re having a bad day with your mental health, what do you do to help yourself?
I live with Bipolar Disorder Type I, so unfortunately poor mental health days come and go with some regularity. These can look like crying, not being able to cry, feeling numb, being irritable, hating humanity, being overly sexual, being completely detached. It is fun, let me tell you. I’ve dealt with this my whole life, but it has gotten steadily worse since I had my daughter in 2010. Luckily, I am now doing very well, though a combination of medication, therapy, yoga, and just doing my best to be happy. These are a few of the things that I learned.
- Be gentle with yourself – Over the years though self-reflection, yoga, spiritual retreats, therapy, psychiatric medications, the best thing I’ve learned is to go easy on myself. It’s okay to have days where you are less than productive, and it doesn’t make you a bad person. Depression looms it’s ugly shadow over so many people that I love, and it makes it hard to see and think clearly. Depression distorts the truth and lies to us, making each day a nightmare. It’s okay to be gentle with yourself. It’s okay to love yourself. Be your own best friend and things do sometimes get better, at least for awhile.
- Reach out to a friend – I know when I’m feeling bad and blue, reaching out to friends doesn’t ever seem appealing. I don’t want to appear needy, or to annoy them, or to express emotions that are less than positive. Those things freak me out. But our friends know us, they know how to cheer us up, and if nothing else, they can listen. Getting out the things that bother you and lightening the load really helps.
- Get a massage – This one is easy for me to remember because I am a massage therapist. Touch is so important. When I go too long without loving touch, I start to shrink in on myself. Getting a massage fulfills several self-care requirements, and is so pleasant. It can be hard to turn off my brain sometimes while I am receiving, when my thoughts are racing, but even so, by the time it is over I always feel so much better.
- Take a bath – Relaxing, good for your body, is more appealing than a shower when depressed. I usually add epsom salt and lavender, if I can. Soaking and letting my body relax helps my mind to relax.
- DID I TAKE MY MEDICATION? – I never forget to take my medication. Except, every once in awhile, I do. Those days are generally less than stellar. I take Wellbutrin and Abilify, and without them I sink into the depths of hell. I will never willingly skip my medications.
- Call your therapist – Really. I need to remind myself of this one because to date, I have yet to call my therapist when I am not having a good day. But she wants me to, so next time, maybe I will.
- Watch cat videos – self-explanatory.
- Get a pet – I don’t currently have one, but given the opportunity I would get a cat again. I love that my roommate has a cat that I can spoil in the meantime. Animals really do understand when we aren’t feeling great and they can be a great source of support.
- Write – Journal. Blog. Write poetry. I have been working on a series of blog posts about the things that happened during a terrible manic episode that I had in 2013, and going back through all the muck is tough. It feels great, though, to get it out.
I don’t really enjoy doing ‘advice’ type posts, but if my little list helps anyone, it would totally make my day. I hope you feel better soon.