Here’s the thing – I live with anxiety and depression.
I’ve made the choice to manage it holistically. This isn’t because I’m anti-prescription or anything of that sort. I firmly believe let what works for you work for you, no matter what it is. There are times that I’ve thought about going the medication route but I’m always like “Hm, let me try this first.” I like figuring myself out, like I’m this beat-up old car that’s a fixer upper. I like trying to find what works before I take myself into the shop, but I also know that if I feel like I’m in too deep it’s perfectly okay to go to a professional mechanic, if you know what I mean.
This does come with drawbacks of course, as does everything. It’s hard to find the energy to take care of yourself when you’re in a crappy mental place. Part of dealing with these kinds of things without the help of meds is the complete lack of energy to do the things you have to do to feel better, although meds can have that effect too. Mental health is hard, you guys. I know the things that will help with my anxiety but what happens when I don’t have the energy to do those things?
Different things work at different times. Just like there’s trial and error finding out which kinds of medications work for you – the same goes for trying to manage your anxiety in other ways. Neither path is easy or perfect.
I’ve had this huge deficit of energy the last few weeks. I’ve managed to go to work, come home, and the rest of the day is spent literally sitting on the couch unmoving, listening to ambient sounds to help relax me and maybe playing a video game. Laundry and dishes pile up, other responsibilities get put on hold, and I have trouble adulting. This isn’t the norm for me. Years ago, it used to be my constant for weeks, for months, at a time but in the last few years, this has been something that happens 1-3 times a year for a week or two at a time.
This time has been particularly bad, triggered by some hard personal stuff. It has lasted over a month and this last week has finally seen the lifting of it.
This heavy period of anxiety and depression reminded me of something.
It is so important to talk kindly to yourself.
If you’ve suffered from anxiety and depression – or any other illness that zaps you of will and energy – you know how it can affect your daily life. It’s not just that despair of being anxious or depressed all of the time, it’s all of the little things you can’t bring yourself to do, even though you know you need to do them.
It used to really piss me off.
And I’d get angry with myself.
Why can’t you do that? Just get up and clean already, this is disgusting. Just get up, you’re so lazy. Why can’t you just get it together? Why do you have to be like this?
Which turned into more frustration turned toward myself.
This time was different, I celebrated every single victory.
You just washed one plate and two forks when you only needed one fork? You’re doing so good!
Too exhausted to do a whole load of laundry but managed to wash enough clothes for the rest of the week? You’re doing so good!
Vacuumed one room even though you wanted to do all of them? You’re doing so good!
You cleaned off most of the coffee table? You’re doing so good!
“You’re doing so good!” Has been my mantra for the last two weeks and it’s made a huge difference.
I feel a bit silly about it. Like I’m treating myself like a toddler who just learned how to use the potty, but at the same time, it makes me feel better to celebrate those little victories. Every moment of productivity counts. It’s been over a week since I started my daily pep-talk. The house is clean, I made 5 phone calls yesterday to stangers about getting estimates on a fence for my backyard (which would have been impossible a mere week ago!), and I feel like writing, I feel like getting out of the house, I feel more like myself, I feel like living.
It’s not just the pep-talks, of course. I’ve taken some time off work to relax. I’ve been focusing on my self-care, I’ve been constantly asking myself “What do you need right now?” and listening. I’ve been forcing myself to sleep when I’m supposed to and actively relax and wind down before bed so that I can sleep and I’ve been engaging in hobbies that aren’t just video games like reading and jewelry making. I’ve been gently pushing myself to tackle tasks around the house that make me feel productive and most importantly of all I’ve been setting boundaries with people and situations that stress me out.
But the positive self-talk really seemed like the start of all of those things. So if you need to hear it right now:
You’re doing so good!
Change the way you talk to yourself. Especially if you’re having a hard time of it. Beating yourself up doesn’t accomplish or fix anything. Be as kind to yourself as you would be to someone else.