I’ve suffered with depression and anxiety for most of my adult life, and have been going through a rough patch of late.
If you’re affected by either, you may be able to relate to the following descriptions. When under the veil of the former, I feel disconnected with the world. Emotions and feelings are flat, and it is hard to even do the most basic of things. When in the latter state, everything is heightened. Small issues seem insurmountable, mistakes I make seem catastrophic. I deem myself a terrible person, and cannot stay calm.
In the past, I tended to let either affliction define me. I’d ruminate, float through existence. This made everything worse. I became lost to myself, failing to pursue my passions. I pushed people away who I love. This made me feel worse, adding to “the pile”.
Fortunately, over the years, I have developed a few techniques to make life a bit easier when unwell. I thought I’d share these, in the hope that it’ll help you.
- Accept it’s part of life and that it will pass
Even when I’m depressed or anxious, I have an awareness that the states will pass. How do I know this?
I look back on my life, and see that these things come in cycles. Sometimes due to circumstance, sometimes due to nothing at all (well, lack of serotonin). But it does get better. While this knowledge alone will not make you well, it should give you perspective.
I like to think of depression and anxiety as a common cold. It makes the head heavy but with time and care it will pass.
- Carry on “as normal” as much as you can
In the mist of illness, I try and live my life as normally as possible. I go for a drink, I see people I love. I listen to music, read books, go for walks.
This is really hard to do. I know that. But I found that when I do any of the above, it lightens things somewhat. Moreover, being active is a distraction. As I said earlier, ruminating, circular thinking, and immersion in the numbness or anxiety makes it much worse.
- Don’t push people away
Depression creates a wall around you. It’s very hard to feel or care about anything. This numbness creates an indifference, even to the people that you deeply care about.
Firstly this is perfectly normal. After all, if you’re depressed, you’re not well. So how can you expect to feel like you do in a more “normal” state when you’re under the spell of a numbing mental illness?
That being said, bear in mind the people who have been there for you. Try and talk to them as much as you can. If they love you, they’ll be there for you, and understand.
I’m very lucky to have wonderful people all around me. In the past, when in a bad state, being unwell lead me to cutting contact with two people very dear to me. I am very, very fortunate to now have them both back in my life. I can say for sure that if it wasn’t for those two, I probably wouldn’t be alive today. And I will never forget their forgiveness, love, and understanding.
- Take your illness seriously and get help
I’ve been guilty of not taking my mental health seriously. When the warning signs appeared, I’d sometimes ignore it, and things would get worse, escalate.
If you’re feeling yourself slide, I implore you to go the doctor, seek a therapist, and talk to people you trust. You can get in touch with:
- Meditate, breathe
Recently, I have been looking into the impact of breathing on my mental health.
I was rather amazed to find the impact it has on my wellbeing. Following the teachings of Wim Hof, and using the Headspace app, brings calm and enhanced feeling. When anxious it helps slow my thoughts down. When depressed, breathing helps bring back a modicum of feeling.
I really hope this list helps. Mental illness can feel, and can be, all-encompassing. It’s not a guarantee that these methods always work. But I’ve found that generally having them makes things easier to manage and work through.
What did you think of this post? Have you got anything you’d like to say about it? Comment below and let’s talk about a really important issue.