Mental Health Monday – Setback

Standard

​A week or so ago, a man I follow on political Twitter had a rough couple of days. I left some supportive comments, and liked a few extra posts because I know how far that can go when you’re reaching out. I know he’s going to be okay, and so does he. Setbacks happen. I’ve said for a long time that depression and anxiety is very much a constant state of recovery. I can’t compare it to a 12-step program as I’ve never done one, but there is the continuity of keeping yourself healthy and remaining self-aware when things change.  There are ups and downs as there are for people who do not have depression or anxiety disorders or issues. All life is a roller coaster ride, and for some of us all we want is the merry-go-round or the slow train around the park.

Before I was diagnosed I didn’t know what was going on. It was unsettling to say the least. After diagnosis it took several weeks to begin to feel better; to recover. The meds didn’t work, then they worked too well; finding a happy medium takes time and patience, and depression is many things, but one thing depression is not is patient. I didn’t feel it at the time, but I was very lucky. Once I got through the initial couple of months of doctor’s check-ups, medication, weekly and bi-weekly talk therapy, and whatever other coping tools I amassed in my toolbox, I was more or less good; not all good, and by no means perfect, but steady. I remained noticeably self-aware of how I was feeling, checking in with myself and paying attention to what I needed. It’s been seven years.

And then about a week ago, I got hit with something. There was nothing gradual or building up to it, and I’m still at the tail end of it today, but there is was: setback. Although setback may be the wrong characterization. I’ve had low moments, but in the course of a year, depression as sad or disappointed is really quite regular. I’ve recognized the situations, and adjusted. This was different. Ironically, it also occurred after my regular therapy appointment. I could probably go back sooner, but there wasn’t really anything new to talk about. I’m in a rut. I will muddle through. It will pass.

But it hasn’t passed; not all the way yet. I can feel myself moving towards the light, but it’s the third week of November, our Thanksgiving plans are still in flux, I have no idea what to get my family (or my son’s girlfriend) for Christmas, my house is a disaster, my papers are too abundant, and writing this part and re-reading it reminds me that this isn’t that weird for any other person out there, with or without depression.

I felt the lethargy first. Then the wanting to just stay in bed and sleep; a different type of lethargy. I got up every morning with headaches for several days in a row. Apathy set in. One minute I was excited about Nanowrimo, the next I was uninspired and not at all caring about writing anything, let alone working on my book(s). If I had an appointment, I kept it. It got me out of bed, and gradually, I’m getting back into my groove.

The first thing I did was recognize whatever this was. I checked myself. I was not suicidal. I knew that. I could feel that. As deep as this felt, it was survivable, and I could handle it. I did not need an emergency intervention. (Others may, and that’s okay. We all need to do what works for us to maintain our recovery.) I chose to stay away from certain political sites, but still remained in the informational loop. I became very picky on what I let into my sphere. I put aside all but four of my podcasts so I could better use the time I had carved out where I wasn’t lying in bed. I tried to read (Catch and Kill by Ronan Farrow, which I did read, and finished it despite having to stop just to be so very angry about the content). 

I kept my morning routine: taking medicine, reading the day’s [Thomas] Merton, listening to What a Day podcast to get the overnight news (and bonus they do more than politics). I forced myself to meet all of my obligations: driving the kids, planning dinner, blog planning, praying. Then on top of that, as I thought I might be surfacing, I got sick last weekend with some kind of twenty-four hour bug, and I wallowed. I allowed myself to be sick, to stay in bed, to do what I needed to do to get well. I was at a church breakfast, and instead of soldiering through, I called my husband to come pick me up. I didn’t talk myself out of taking care of myself and letting my family fend for themselves. I didn’t worry about what I could let go of. Easier said than done, I know.

I didn’t try to why myself and analyze why I was so down, so deep in a hole. I just accepted it; briefly.

And everyday, I got up, I checked in with myself, accepted I was still in the hole, and thought about what I could do to keep living until it passed. I did consider that I might need to adjust my medication, but I wasn’t sure that was something I wanted to do at the stressful holiday season. I do have a doctor’s appointment in a couple of weeks, followed by a therapy session, and I know I can get through these weeks until then. I’ve found that just having the days on the calendar is a asset to my mental state.

I know that so many people go through these feelings, these moments of self-doubt, undermining and self-sabotage that taking away the stigma and talking about depression and the inevitable setback benefits many. But I think I’ve gotten over this bump.

What are some of the ways you get through your ruts?

Mental Health  Monday – Me, My Self-Care, And I

Standard

This is a limited series from Crooked Media. The link below is to the first episode, which you can listen to on your favorite podcast provider. There are four shows in total.

This series is hosted by Maya Munoz and Diosa Femme. Each week they are joined by a guest that discusses a different aspect of self care. One thing that they brought up is the privilged aspect of self care. For many of us, we feel that we can’t take the needed time for ourselves. Especially as women, we feel selfish taking any time away from our jobs, which include so much more than our salaried job and self care is NOT selfish. It took me a long time to figure that out, and the lesson was worth it. There is also a lack of safe spaces for women of color, and this series addresses that.

In each episode, they repeat an Audre Lord quotation that sums up for them what this series is all about:

“Caring for myself is not self-indulgence; it is self-preservation, and that is an act of political warfare.”

Find the first episode here:

Mental Health Monday – Having a RUFF Day?

Standard

Simple Self-Care Mental Health from The Mighty.

As described on their website, The Mighty is “a safe, supportive community for people facing health challenges and the people who care for them.”

Acronyms are a simple way to check in with ourselves. RUFF is one of those. Click the link and read the article’s thoughts and suggestions.

Mental Health Monday – Avoiding Politics

Standard

Politics are everywhere these days. I’m a political junkie, and even for me it can be a little exasperating. In the US we have an unhinged narcissist who can’t control his Twitter fingers and the media who used ot have journalistic integrity churning out pieces on his nicknaming habits, no follow up questions for outrageous lies, and more twattle than I thought humanly possilble. In the UK, Brexit is a disaster, no one gave a thought to Northern Ireland, Prime Minister Theresa May has resigned. The EU is in the middle of elections and fascists are everywhere. The Austrian government has basically fallen apart. And of course, there’s Iran and North Korea.

Amid this frenzy, I offer five ways to bring your blood pressure down and cope with the news of the day, no matter your normal comfort level:

1. Turn it off. Turn off the television, turn off your phone notifications, take a break from Twitter.

2. If you must stay on Twitter, only read Lin-Manuel Miranda exclusively. He is positive and uplifting and always says the one thing you needed to hear. Monday through Friday, he has Good Morning and Good Night tweets for his followers.

3. Read a book. NOT The Handmaid’s Tale. NOT 1984 or Lord of the Flies. Try Bill Bryson. Or James Martin, SJ. Or Becoming by Michelle Obama.

4. Treat yourself to a movie. Avengers: End Game is still in theatres. Other options: A Dog’s Journey, Aladdin, Detective Pikachu, and in the coming weeks: Men in Black and Toy Story 4!

5. Try a new podcast: The Hilarious World of Depression with John Moe wherever you get your podcasts. I listen on Player.FM.

Mental Health Monday – A Coping Skills Tool Box – Updated

Standard

I discovered this on Tumblr, and wanted to share it with you since many of us need that little boost to get us through the day.  I’ve posted this before, and because it’s so important you will probably see it again over the months. I like to bring it out in May during Mental Health Awareness Month and during my Mental Health Monday series. For this iteration, I’ve added one item in each category from my own Coping Skills Toolbox! I hope they are helpful. Good luck with your today!

Coping Toolbox by summerofrecovery 1

My Personal Coping Skills Toolbox with a couple of samples. No list is ever complete and everyone’s toolbox will contain different skills. (c)2019

Continue reading

Mental Health Monday – May 6th

Standard

May is Mental Health Awareness Month, so we’re kicking off Mental Health Monday with a few reminders and links:

Mental health affects EVERYONE. Mental Health is often confused with Mental Illness, and both are afflicted with social stigmas where we don’t acknowledge our issues, we don’t speak about them, and we ignore our friends and family who have them, regardless of the degree.

As a whole, we need to be more open and in that way, we encourage others around us that they can come to us, and they will receive support.
To start out this awareness month, check out my Mental Health Monday tag, an ongoing series of mental health stories and resources. I also have a Crisis Intervention Resource page that offers hotlines and some websites. I have already added the new Trans LifeLine to it.

Other resources to check out include:

National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI)
BetteruBetterUs on Instagram (helping people of color connect with therapists)
Project Ur Ok, on Instagram
The Carter Center: Mental Health
The Trevor Project
School of Awake (for young girls)

Five of My Personal Self-Care Practices

1. Take a Mental Health Day. This is especially helpful when you work full-time. Sometimes with all of the obligations and expectations, a day off is needed. I also allow my kids to do this if needed.

2. Tea. It is no lie that tea cures everything. And if it doesn’t cure it, it certainly helps put things in perspective. The time it takes to brew a cup of tea and drink it is often enough time to allow yourself to take a breathe, and it can be done anywhere – home, work, coffee shop on the corner.

3. Do something mundane. There are times when I get low and can’t focus even on relaxing, so I will put on a rerun of Supernatural and let that be my white noise. I’ve seen all of the episodes so I don’t need to pay strict attention to the plot, and I find comfort in the familiar voices.

4. Music. My go-to’s are the Hamilton soundtrack, Sign No More from Mumford & Sons, England Take My Bones from Frank Turner, and Adele plus the Supernatural soundtrack that I’ve put together.

5. Prayer. I know this isn’t for everyone, but if I can sit down and pray or read a spiritual book it does tend to re-center me so I can continue with my day.

Share 1 or 2 of yours in the comments!

Mental Health Monday – Resources

Standard

Suicide Prevention HelpLine: 1-800-273-8255

The Trevor Project: 1-866-488-7386

IMAlive (an online crisis network)
The Trans Lifeline: 1-877-565-8860

TWLOHA: To Write Love on Her Arms

NAMI: National Alliance on Mental Illness

Veteran’s Crisis Line: 1-800-273-8255, press 1. Text to 838255. There is also a confidential chat line on the website.

There is a more comprehensive list (although not inclusive) on my Crisis Intervention Page.

Check out all of the Mental Health Monday posts by followng this tag: mental health monday

Two other things you should check out:

Questions to Ask Before Giving Up

Let’s Make a Coping Skills Toolbox

Add anything you’ve found useful in the comments so I can include it in any updates.