Depression and Anxiety. Managing your monsters!
So I’ve been putting off this article for a while mainly as I’ve just not felt motivated of late (more on that later) and for me and I do enjoy writing but it’s a thing I have to be in the mood for and the mood hasn’t take me!
So as we start drawing in winter, nights getting longer, days getting shorter, and apparently at this time of year the ‘veil’ between our true selves, higher states of consciousness is the more ‘thin’. It’s also a time for reverence, reflection and slowing down to go within
Not heaps of people know about my own dark depths of depression because it’s not something we openly talk about at the coffee table, and I’ve been so much enjoying the LIGHT and the JOY I didn’t feel my monsters were around. Many people often comment how they find me extremely light, and energy boosting type person, who is ‘always in a good mood’ (apart from my dear friends of course who have seen my little MONSTERS). But as with most LIGHT type folk, the lighter the light often means the darker the dark so I just wanted to step into my MONSTER world in this article with the intention of sharing, supporting, helping others as well giving my own mind space to breath and let go.
Around 4.5 years ago I trundled myself off to the doctors in Manchester, having suffered for around 3 months of chronic insomnia. It was literally becoming debilitating. I was unable to do anything apart from funeral march to work, put on the brave face, trundle home and mope on the sofa. I had no friends at the time. I had become very socially isolated. I was unable to make even food decisions for myself, I would head in the local supermarket on the way home and feel so overwhelmed by all the options of what food/recipe I could make I would reach for a bag of no fuss crisps and chocolate. And if I ever did go out my anxiety, and paranoia that people were whispering things like ‘I wish she would go home’, ‘she’s a weirdo’ would be come so deafening loud I would soon hop in a taxi to get back in the bed with my mental monsters.
Eventually I was referred to the priory which for some reason at the time, felt like I massive defeat, like I was ‘giving in’ being another ‘statistic head case’. I remember clearly filling in a number of forms, and was overwhelmed by how they seemed to know exactly how I was feeling. ‘I feel hopeless about my future’. STRONGLY AGREE. ‘little interest in doing things or finding pleasure’ OMG strongly agree again. ‘Trouble concentrating on things’ again, omg jackpot. ‘trouble sleeping or staying asleep’. HELLO IT’S BEEN MONTHS NOW. The list went on and on. The psychiatrist diagnosed severe depression, and moderate anxiety, which again added my ‘I’m a total waste of space’ vibes at that time. I refused medication, (again in my view, I didn’t need pills to make me feel happy. Plus I wasn’t crying, there was no way I could have depression) had many long conversations with the doctor about how I felt I didn’t fit the bill for my own stereotype of someone with depression (again at that time). I did however embark on group therapy, and eventually individual therapy. I stayed in a mess with my monsters managing my brain for several months until after around 6 months i did opt for medication. It was explained to me that this would probably change my life, especially as I had battled for so many years.
And I have to say, for me, it did. These days I’m not an advocate of medication, I deeply believe we can heal our own lives of the right serotonin boosting foods, vitamins, supplements, a strong social/support work and meditation and exercise as well as yoga but at that time it was the right decision. The first few weeks were bumpy as the psychiatrist had to get the meds right but after around 6 weeks things started to MOVE! The only way I can describe is was that I’d been sat at the bottom of a very deep jam jar, looking through the thick smoggy glass, and upwards towards to fresh air, but that I wasn’t really there in the world I was in a jam jar. The meds seemed to pull me out of the jam jar, and suddenly i was sat on the top of the rim, looking around like WOW this is how everyone else is! It was really a revelation. I was able to think clearly, function, it was like the mist had cleared and I could start being in the world again.
Long story short it was this process (at least 15 months in entirety) that enabled me to completely change my life and come to Ibiza to start a new life. Year 3 I’ve made hundreds of new friends, bought a home, set up my own business, discovered Water Therapy and many other positive tings!
It wasn’t until this year that i finally made the decision to come off the pills. I just felt I was stable enough in my life, and now had all the tools, knowldege and beautiful friends who knew SO much about the body, mind, spirit that I was capable to managing this.
The first few months were fine, I was on a massive high from a Detox Juice Cleanse in Thailand. My skin aglow, my spirit the lightest ever been, liver and brain beaming this guided me for a good while!
I have had quite a few ‘dark days’ over the past few months, the monsters have crept in unannounced filling me with thoughts of ‘you’re not good enough’, ‘noone cares what you have to say’, ‘you’re a headcase’ etc etc, and generally lowered moods, disinterest in leaving the house, and big social occasions feeling daunting. I have had serious thoughts about going back into medication, but the ‘up’ side to be off medication is my intuition and internal GPS are very high, I do think we should be our own project in keeping ourselves well (more on this is upcoming article). I’ve also restarted counselling therapy which i can’t speak highly enough. Now when I’m having a dark day I think ‘ok what did I eat yesterday?’, ‘what did I do yesterday’ and asking myself ‘what are my needs today’. This helps to motivate me to stay well. I also cannot begin to describe how much alcohol and the ‘party’ scene now effects me these days too. Literally, it is the BIGGEST poison, I know this because having nearly eliminated it from my diet when I do have the odd glass of wine out with friend etc my thoughts, feelings, anxiety, are absolutely next level the next day. But it is all balance, so i balance out the wanting wine with making sure I’ve got some positive things in the diary the next day so I can’t plummet. Again, becoming a manager for your own brain!
So there you go some info and sharing and here’s a little list of what REALLY helps me.
- Becoming aware. Firstly noticing how your mood, thoughts, vibes are. Becoming the observer of your own thoughts/feelings will help you to de-attach making any neggy/bad vibes feel less intense.
- Talk to people. Whoever who trust and love. Also GET professional help
- Checking in with your eating habits. So for me, severe mental health issues run throughout my family, I believe there is a genetic predisposition which in my feeling is some people produce less serotonin than others (this starts in the gut, so what you are putting IN, reflects what you are getting OUT). Eating as much as I can of dark green leafy vegetables, Omega3, Walnuts, Almonds, Berries, beans, seeds, oils (for me flaxseeds, chia, sesame all the highest quality I can afford), Tart Cherry Juice. Dramatically reducing caffeine (if poss remove!). I also take Maca, Omega3 capsules, 5htp (please check with a nutritionalist if this is appropriate for you).
- Have a thought journal. Set yourself goals. Reflect.
- Practising Yoga and Meditation (these days I have my own practice, but GAIA.com is great if you can’t find a local class,)
- Self care, booking in for treats of a massage/swim/whatever it is makes you feel good
- MOVE! GET OUTSIDE IN NATURE even if it’s only 15-20 mins (also put on some music you love and dance even if its 3 mins)
- Keeping social. Make plans with friends who you LOVE hanging around with and make you feel GOOD ABOUT YOURSELF
- Be Grateful (pause when you can to be grateful for something, anything. even your own HANGING brain monsters for reminding you to look after yourself)
- Remember everything is IMPERMANENT. This will pass.
Thank you for you reading!
Featured image courtesy of https://pixabay.com/en/