Anxiety and depression. Everyone deals with these issues in their life one time or another. Some are able to pass through it quickly and others…..not so quickly. Some have it so bad that it can be debilitating and hard to do simple everyday things like getting out of bed and having a functional day. Many people may feel like it’s difficult to talk to others about these issues as they can be disregarded or feelings be invalidated when they are real to you. As these symptoms are something you cannot see, it may be difficult for others to know what to say or do to help you out. Sometimes they can and sometimes they can’t.
Even then, there is still hope.
Unfortunately I know firsthand dealing with these issues as I have personally dealt with them since I was a child. Whether it was a family member or myself, I finally have found a path to help me deal with these struggles that I face as well. I’m not a doctor and what works for me may not work for you. (Please use the following suggestions at your discretion.) I have been taking some classes to help with these issues (Plus I LOVE Psychology) and I feel that these are things that everyone should have a chance to know about. Below are some starter points to help you when you feel like your anxiety and depression are starting to hit:
1- Allow yourself to feel the emotion.
I know that this may sound obvious or silly. But people tend to push their feelings aside because they feel that it’s not important enough, guilty, unjustified, or will hear from others to just “Put your bootstraps on.” All of these are invalidating to you. It’s OK to be scared, sad or angry over what you are dealing with. When you allow yourself to feel that emotion, you are allowing yourself to accept what is going on. You don’t have to like it. It’s ok to not agree with it. But feeling the emotion and accepting what is going on will allow you to take the next step of moving on from that situation.
Yes, I know it’s hard to cry at times and sometimes you just don’t want to. Plus it seems like people may think crying makes you weak. Not true. Crying has many benefits for your health including relieving stress and lowering your blood pressure.
3- Self Soothe.
I know firsthand how hard it is to find ANY time for yourself. But it’s truly important to have that “me time.” You are important. Even if you don’t feel like you are at times. By allowing yourself to take time to self soothe will help rejuvenate your soul. Self-soothing doesn’t have to be anything major. These things can be accomplished by taking a bubble bath, reading a good book, napping, shopping, or watching an awesome movie. It’s just something that is for YOU.
4- Source of comfort (Related to Self Soothe)
This is great when you are in places that can trigger your depression and anxiety. Like being in major crowds, (I love Comic Con, but holy cow does my anxiety love to try and take over.), family events, grocery stores, movies, etc. What I mean by source of comfort is carrying something with you that you find comforting. One suggestion is to put your favorite things in a small bag that you are able to carry with you. This is called a Self Soothe kit. It can be a picture of someone you love, a smell that is comforting to you, (oils, perfume, or cologne. Spray it on a handkerchief.), favorite candy, or a rock. Yes a rock. (Or something similar) It doesn’t HAVE to be a rock, but the reason why I have a reason why I suggested it in the first place. Someone very dear to me was taking a trip to Spain. I was half joking with her when I asked her to bring a rock back for me. I have ancestors that are from Spain and for me I thought it would be cool to have something from there. (Plus it’s free!) I was shocked and honored that she did bring one back for me and how much she went out of her way to find me the perfect rock. This rock she found in the Botanical Peace gardens. Her kids hunted down the perfect rock to bring back for me. The thought was so sweet knowing that she was thinking about me while she was so far away. This rock may seem simple to others, but to me there is story and meaning behind it. I have this rock in my jacket and when I’m stressed or feeling that anxiety increase, I will reach into my pocket and just hold it. This moment will allow me to stop thinking about what is going on around me and just focus on the meaning behind the rock. It give me time to take a step back and breathe. Something everyone should allowed to do.
This one I probably do more than anything else. Staying one-mindful or observing your 5 senses are a way to relieve emotional pain. If you aren’t too familiar with the one-mindful aspect, then allow me to introduce this to you. Let’s take my rock for example. When I look at my rock, I don’t just see a rock. I put all of my focus towards that rock and observe the color, how smooth it is, the indentations, the size, the shape, and so forth. All owing myself to put all my focus and attention towards that rock gives me the breather that I need to not focus on the negative. I’m too busy looking at my awesome rock! And even though the negative is still thereafter, I am still able to give myself the break that it needs in order to figure out the next steps I need to take.
If you don’t have anything with you in that moment for your sense of comfort, just find something around you and observe that object. It could be anything, anywhere. (i.e. a stoplight, stop sign, people walking around you. Describe the details in what you are observing.)
5- Find an outlet
Stress can take a toll on you in more ways that you could imagine. And that is why it is incredibly important to fine an outlet for yourself to release some of those emotions and prevent them from taking over. It’s hard to find the time, energy, or even motivation to do it in the first place. That’s why at times you need to force yourself to keep that part of you alive. You deserve it. For me, my outlet is art. I could live, eat and breathe art. And I love all of my artist friends as seeing what they do brings meaning as I understand the time and effort they are putting into their
work. Once I can find myself to start painting or drawing, I can find this instant peace because I don’t have to think about anything else. It’s like I’m finally free in that moment to focus on something for ME. So even if you are into reading, making Cosplay, music, dancing, comedy, or gaming, allowing yourself to have that outlet will give your brain the break that it needs.
6- Allowing others in
This I know is hard. If you have ever been through trauma, it’s easy to distance yourself away from others because it’s your way of protecting yourself. But pushing others away so much actually harms you more. I’m not saying to allow everyone in, but even if it’s one person, it’s important to allow yourself to open up to someone in your time of distress. Just talking out loud about what’s going on is incredibly therapeutic. Finding that right person can be hard as people in your life seem to come and go. You will always be your own worst critic. Even though you may feel alone and that no one is there for you, trust me, there is. There is nothing wrong with being careful and reserved. But when you find those ones who truly care and WANT to be let in, don’t let them go. They are a rare breed that is very hard to find again.
Anything suggested above you can alter to what works for you. But these are based off of studies that have been proven over time to help. (This study is mainly geared towards individuals who are facing Borderline Personality disorder, but are still affective regardless if you have BPD or not.) http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1077722907000351
Remember that things will not cure overnight, but having some type of safety net will help you in your daily life of dealing with anxiety and depression.
Remember that you are an amazing person. It’s hard to feel that you may have any strength left, but if you are able to get out of bed and out that door, you are still doing it. And that takes a lot of courage and strength to face those struggles every day. Give yourself the credit that you deserve.
*Special shout out to my amazing mentor and therapist for allowing me to find that part of myself again. Also to Derek. If it wasn’t for you, I wouldn’t have this opportunity to find my strength.