Today I want to talk about a subject I really haven't talked about much on my blog in a while; depression and anxiety. Over the years, I've learned so much more about it, met so many amazing people who deal with it, and learned things about myself that help me cope. But my mental health journey all began shortly after graduating high school when I was first diagnosed with anxiety and depression.
I have no doubt I dealt with those things much longer than the time I had been diagnosed. I've always had a tendency to be on the anxious side, but shortly after starting in on my senior year, I definitely developed more of that anxiety into seemingly "little" things. I'm not going to get into detail about my story with anxiety and depression, I'll save that for another time, but it's something I have certainly had to deal with for a long time and something I feel I have been able to accept... at least for the time being...
Before I get into my list of things I do and use to help deal with my anxiety and depression, please keep in mind, everyone's journey and struggle with mental health is different and what works for some people may not work for others. And the same applies here. I just wanted to share the things that have helped me over time.
I have always loved journaling. I used to be a lot better at it, but it is still something I value. I had one counselor who explained to me why journaling can be so effective. When we utilize the art of handwriting out are thoughts and recalling our day, it actually slows down our thought process and allows for us to dive deeper into our thoughts and feelings.
Another thing I have started up is writing in a gratitude journal. I found this really cute one at Target that I love. Something about the fact that it is cute and has prompts motivates me to use it more.
In the last year I've really discovered the power in gratitude. It's something so simple and honestly, until I experienced it, it was a hard concept for me to grasp that it could really make that much of a difference... but I am a believer now, and it really does. It's not a solve all, but practicing thinking of things you're grateful for can help shed a bit of light in the midst of what can at times, seem like an incredibly dark tunnel.
I am a HUGE advocate for counseling, or therapy, (however you prefer to refer to it). I'm not necessarily one that thinks every person should have a therapist and that going even when there's not a need is a way of life, BUT, I am a strong believer that sometimes when we are going through crap or just feeling so down or anxious, a therapist can be vital. I also believe that just because you think you're done with therapy, doesn't mean you are done forever, and that's okay. For me, there have been times where I finish up services, or I think I have, and then maybe six months later, a year later, or maybe even only a month later, I find myself sitting across from my counselor again. It doesn't mean I've gone backwards or that I was wrong and shouldn't have stopped. It just means it's life. It's my life with ups and downs. It's a life with anxiety, depression, and other circumstantial events that come up.
If you know me, you know how much I LOVE drives. Now this is definitely more of a preferential thing, but there is nothing more calming for me than going on a drive up the canyon or on a little route around my town while listening to music. I think there's something about it that helps me to feel like I'm getting out. Also, the ability to be totally alone and feel like I'm out in nature while listening to some of my favorite lyrics is extremely therapeutic and comforting. In the last year, my days typically don't start without some kind of a morning drive, and it's worth every penny in gas money to me.
I know modern medicine is not for everyone, and it DEFINITELY should not be taken unless prescribed by a doctor. Medicine has made a huge difference for me though. Between the two, anxiety is generally more of the issue for me and I think of depression often as a side affect from dealing with it. That being said, it is the anxiety that my medicine is really meant for, although it does help with the depression as well. There was a while I tried going off of it when I was pregnant with Everett but ended up having the worst anxiety and panic attacks I've ever had for a year! So I've learned for me, at least for now, medicine is absolutely worth it! And that you should totally talk to a doctor before coming off of any medications!
Something about being able to create is so healing; in whatever form that is. My creativity of choice is often music. Singing, songwriting, or even just listening to music is a big part of my "processing" process... haha... processing process... is that even an actual thing?? I don't know, but we are going to pretend it is.
I am very aware though, there are times when I feel so depressed that doing the things I love and creating feels like way too much of an effort and I have no desire. In those times I often find that I enjoy coloring in coloring books, as silly as it may sound. There's something about it that is very relaxing, calming, and distracting away from really deep, depressed feelings. We're just going to pretend that's an actual phrase too.
These are just a few of the things that have helped me over the years as I've dealt with anxiety and depression. I know certain circumstances can make things harder and there are different degrees to things. I also know that things change, changing the way we are able to cope and deal; I've been there.
We've all heard it, but it's because it's so important, remember to reach out. Even though it's hard. There are resources for those of us dealing with these struggles and while it is often times still extremely hard, those resources can provide ways to help us cope. I'm also going to add, if you ever need to, you can use me as a resource. Never hesitate to reach out. I love hearing your stories and experiences and I am always happy to share my experiences in turn.