“Don’t tell me that this isn’t real.
Don’t tell me this ain’t how I feel.
This is all I have, all I have.”
-All I Have (NF)
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I’m doing surprisingly well for this time of year. Usually when the holidays begin to sneak up on me, I begin to get depressed again. Don’t get me wrong; I have had my depressed moments, moments of self-pity, and moments of anxiety but ultimately I am coping significantly better than I have in the past.
I am in a happy place in my life, things are actually going well. Things aren’t perfect by any means, they could always be better but I’m learning to accept the bad and be thankful for the good.
I feel that I should share my coping mechanisms and steps that I have taken because I truly want everyone to be able to feel the happiness that I am feeling right now. I’ve learned that it can be a bad day, but that doesn’t make for a bad life. Remember that.
These are the coping mechanisms and steps that I have taken that have worked for me, I can not promise you that they will work for you because everyone is different.
I don’t feel like I am doing too much different physically, but mentally things have changed drastically.
I don’t allow myself to go into that dark place that depression invites me to anymore.
How can you stay away from the darkness?
Depression brings you down like no other, that is the absolute truth but believe it or not, there are ways you can fight it. I’m not talking about eating better and exercising, though they are helpful in fighting depression. What I’m talking about is stopping your mind in it’s tracks when you begin to feel the slightest twinge of depression. Recognize that you are beginning to enter a bad space and try to prevent yourself from diving deeper.
That’s easier said than done.
Yes it is, but imagine being able to live a whole day without becomming depressed, how great would that feel? I’m not saying that it will be easy, I am saying that it will be worth it.
Okay, so how do I stay away from depression?
The first rule that I follow is to do the opposite of what my mind is telling me to do. My mind always tells me to listen to sad music, read sad stories and quotes, dwell on the negative aspects of life, and not to see the bright side of anything. That’s not how you fight depression. “Oh but it makes me feel better.” WRONG. It actually doesn’t help you at all, it puts you further into the darkness than you realize. It might make you “feel better” because you feel like you aren’t alone, like there are others out there who suffer like you do. Let me tell you, there are plenty of people who are suffering just as bad as you are, but they don’t allow depression to get the best of them. So turn on some happy, upbeat music, go for a walk, do some deep breathing exercises or call a friend. Just do something to get your mind out of that negative space but don’t forget about what made you depressed, you don’t want to just bury the bad and let it build up until you “explode.” It might be difficult at first, but it does get easier, I promise.
No longer do I chase the highs or the lows, middle ground is my preferred place.
What if I cycle rapidly between highs and lows?
That’s okay, you can’t change the pace that you cycle unless you’re on some form of drug/plant designed to alter it. What you can do is stop chasing highs and lows when you feel them coming on. That means not to go out and drink when you’re beginning to feel low, not to drink coffee or an energy drink when you feel a high coming on, finding a middle ground should be your priority.
How do I find a middle ground?
Once again, it’s not super easy to do but with some time you it will become a professional! My suggestion for you is to let your positive and negative energy out in productive not destructive ways. The productive method of releasing energy for me is Art Therapy; with Art Therapy I can knit, crochet, draw or paint away my energy.
What if I don’t feel like doing anything because I’m entering a low?
Make yourself do something because something is better than nothing. Even if you just take 5 minutes of your time to make music, read a book, knit a square, draw a doodle or whatever you choose to do, your low will begin to subside. The same goes with a high. Maybe you feel super energized and you want to do everything but you can’t pick just one thing, make yourself pick and sit down for 5 minutes at a time. Take it slow, baby steps are key. With these tips you can help find your middle ground more often because you won’t be chasing a high or low anymore.
Sobriety comes easier to me because I choose to keep it “in plain sight.”
Doesn’t seeing alcohol make you want to drink?
Sometimes it does, sometimes it doesn’t. When it doesn’t make me want to drink, I feel super happy because the temptations are weakening, but when it does make me want to drink I just fight the urges. Maybe I’ll reach out to someone and tell them that I am feeling the urge to drink or maybe I’ll just find something else to take my mind off of it. Regardless of what I decide to do, keeping alcohol in plain sight has helped me so much more than running from it. No, I don’t go out and buy alcohol just to sit in front of me, I don’t purchase it at all, but I don’t make my roommate hide her alcohol from me anymore. It sits in the fridge and I see it every single time I open the door. It serves as a constant reminder of how far I’ve come.
Do you go out to bars and clubs since you keep alcohol “in plain sight?”
I don’t go out to clubs, no, but I don’t stay away from social gatherings as much anymore because I know that I am strong enough to fight the temptations to drink. Maybe not by myself, but when I have somebody with me who knows my struggles, it really helps. I make it clear in the beginning that I will not be drinking and then it’s easy for me to stick with it because everyone helps to hold me accountable for it.
These are just few methods I have been working on to help progress with my mental illness. They have worked tremendously for me, but like I said before, I can’t promise the same results for you.
I wish you all the best of luck in fighting your mental illness, you can do this!