It is no secret, and nor should it be, that my reality involves the daily management of anxiety and depression. It has been this way for roughly a third of my life, it is familiar as well as feared. The circumstances of my late teens, the decade of my 20’s and the tragic loss of my beautiful young Mother has resulted in a whole lot of collateral damage for myself and most of my family. It has been a process of self-discovery as well as navigating the darkness of my grief and the permanence of my emotional scars. It can take many years to process trauma, and to truly comprehend the depth of those emotional scars. If you are living with anxiety and depression, working through your own grief or loss, please know that you are not alone.
Resilience plays quite an important role in the recovery and ongoing management of anxiety, depression and other mental health issues. For me it has been about building my understanding of what works best. It does take time, to work through the different medications, the different forms of talk therapy, the other proven complementary therapies. I am not a health professional, my sharing comes from the heart, and it is based on what has worked well for me, for my own very unique situation. Everyone is different, and if there is one thing that I would always emphasise; that is to seek help as soon as you suspect the symptoms of anxiety and depression. It is not a sign of weakness to admit that you need help, it is sign that you respect yourself, and that you care enough to take the very important steps involved in healing and managing these very real mental health issues.
So with that in mind, these are some of the things that I have relied on over a long period of time to support my own experience with anxiety and depression:
♡ Learn to say no: I think this becomes a little easier with age and wisdom to be honest. When you’re younger you feel as though you are missing out on things if you say no to an event or occasion in particular. Taking a step back from the constant demands on your time, taking the time to carefully select how you spend your precious time, this will make a big difference. It does get easier to say no, trust me!
♡ Surround yourself with kind and non-judgemental people: just as it gets easier to say no, it also gets easier to let friendships go if they are not healthy or fulfilling. Anxiety and depression are difficult to understand at times, for those who are on the outside. However, they are not to be ridiculed, dismissed or simply ignored. A friend will take the time to listen, accept and understand, anything less than this is simply not friendship.
♡ Slow down: I know its tempting to fill the darkness with activity, at times this allows you to avoid the anxiety. I used this bandaid solution for many years, busy was my mantra and I packed every minute with work, socialising, courses and anything that would fill my days and make me feel normal. Avoiding time alone can only be sustained for so long, and it is actually this time that can provide the most sacred space for healing.
♡ Find and keep the right health professional for you: it is so important to include the regular support of health professionals in your recovery and ongoing care. My Psychologist has been a part of my experience for more than ten years, she is my rock in the mental health space and although there are times when we go many months or even a year without a visit, I know that this is where I need to return for care and support.
♡ Consider your diet and physical wellbeing: excessive alcohol and crappy food was once a part of my own self prescribed therapy, needless to say this did not end well. It makes much more sense to nurture your body, especially when you are struggling mentally. I find that fresh salmon is a staple for my ongoing mental health, as is lots of bright salads and juices.
♡ Prioritise self care: I know that I harp on about this one, I do that for good reason, it works! Is it a bath, massage, new book, lunch with a loved one, shopping trip, meditation, signing up for a course? What is it that nurtures you, refills your own tank so that you feel better about coping and doing the things that are required of you in life? It is not self indulgent to care for yourself, it is essential, especially when you are living with anxiety and depression.
♡ Connect with others: the power of the support group cannot be underestimated! In modern times it is less about sitting in a hall AA style, there are so many ways to connect with others both online and face to face. Do some research online or through a health professional, reach out to others and share your story if you are comfortable, it will change your life!
♡ Be patient with yourself: recovery and ongoing care is not a quick fix. Be realistic about your progress, and set goals that are achievable. Medication in particular is a slow process, at times it can feel overwhelming and slow. Hang in there though, surround yourself with the right people, take each day at a time and remember to notice the small positive things in the moments, in your days.
♡ Plan and enjoy regular breaks away: I have found that the planning of a lovely weekend away every few months is a great uplifter! It does not need to cost a fortune, it is more about the lovely research into nice areas to explore, accommodation options and the experience of a mini break. It could be a romantic escape, family focused or some precious time with the friend you just don’t see as much as you would like to!
♡ Create a healing home: it is so important to put some love and time into your spaces, so that they are supporting your healing and your ongoing care. A home that is filled with light and the things that you love, the colours that uplift you..a work space that is reflective of your creativity and personality, these things will support you greatly.
I hope that by sharing these tips you are feeling a little more hopeful or you may know someone living with anxiety and depression who needs a little support, please feel free to share xx