I don’t slump, people. I opposite of slump. I pmuls. That’s slump backwards and it’s what I do.Detective Jake Peralta of the 99th Precinct
Y’know, for a mental health guy, I haven’t really talked much about the challenges that we face when our mental health is strained. Y’know, the dreaded “D” word? No, not that, ye pervert, I’m talking about Depression.
Today feels an appropriate time to talk about this, because despite my hiatus from alcohol, I have found myself sitting at the table with a dozen empty depresso martini glasses. Big T has been a bit down in the dumps, a bit caught in a slumps.
But are you okay Tim?!!?! Of course, because like all Timmunity members, I know this is temporary. But what’s important is I recognise the things I am doing that are helping, and the things that aren’t. And for a while, I’ve allowed myself to do a bunch of things that don’t help at all. From my experience, and I’m sure some of you can relate to some or all of these, these kind of behaviours are what I consider to be “mood manglers”. Things like;
- Not exercising/spending minimal time outside of the house.
- Eating an imbalanced diet, resulting in lower energy levels.
- A reluctance to be social, disconnection from the majority of my social connections.
- Negative self-talk, particularly in areas like body image.
In one way or another, we all experience our own mood manglers that often drain us of the motivation or energy we need to overcome our slumps. And while it might maintain it’s grip around our throat for longer than we would like it to, it’s important that we realise that one of the most important steps in the right direction is to be as patient as we can with ourselves. Depression isn’t homework, or a presentation for work, it doesn’t have a deadline that we need to meet, so take some of that pressure off!
The reality with mental illness is that it’s not in its nature a physical ailment. Sure, it can certainly affect us in ways that are physical, but that isn’t the source of the issue. It’s not like a cut on our foot, or a common cold, so a few stitches or dose of cold ‘n’ flu tablets won’t fix the problem. It’s a psychological ailment, it’s something that affects our brain and thought patterns. And if we know anything about our brains, it’s that the little blighter is responsible for just about everything our body does. From typing a blog post, to letting off a fart so loud that your housemate hears it in the other room. Since it’s not a physical issue, it’s not as simple as slapping on a band-aid. Depression isn’t a breakage that we can just piece together, and there’s a couple of reasons for that.
For starters, you are in no way, shape or form “broken”, my friend. You’re human, what you are feeling is 10000% valid, and what you feel is felt by far, far more people than we care to admit. But as the saying goes, you have survived 100% of the bad days you’ve had and come out of the other side. This will not be any different.
Secondly, depression or anxiety might not be a wound you can just stitch up and forget about, but there are some things that we can do in our day-to-day lives to help ease the intensity of what we feel, and how long it decides to hang around. So over the last few weeks, I’ve been preparing to take baby steps in the right direction. This is how I am doing it;
- To combat my lack of exercise and reluctance to be social, I finally bit the bullet and went and signed up to a boxing gym. I found that going to the same place and lifting up heavy things over and over got boring. By choosing to participate in something out of my usual routine, and something that involves classes with other human beings, I am metaphorically killing two birds with one stone. Metaphorically
- Planning my week of meals – Monday is a good a day as any to make plans for my week of tasty goodness. If I can plan ahead what I’m eating, and pick something I’ll genuinely look forward to, I’ll be far less likely to eat too much takeout. If I’m eating better, I’m feeling better and I can tell all that negative self-talk to shut the fu-, uh, front door…on their way out.
- Making social commitments – sometimes being social is exhausting, and getting back into the swing of things can be hard. But baby steps, baby. I went to a group event for a few hours then came home to watch my basketball team play. That to me sounds like a bloody good night.
Overcoming depression isn’t about finding a cure, it’s about management. When you look at it more as a mood rather than an illness, it doesn’t seem so daunting. Sure, it may not go away permanently, but does any mood? We don’t stop being happy and think that’s the last time we’ll feel that, nor do we feel that way about sadness, or anger, or excitement.
Depression comes in many forms, it affects us differently, sometimes without us even realising it. And with that variety comes a variety of ways to tame it. The important thing is that you listen to yourself. You know you better than anyone else, and if all you can muster is just getting out of bed, then give yourself a pat on the back.
Rome wasn’t built in a day, trust your process. You’re building something great.
Happy Mental Health Monday.
If today all you did was feel good for a minute, it was enough to get started towards better days