Depression + Anxiety
Depression and/ or anxiety can affect anyone one of us at any point in our lives. It's not discriminative.
It's not something that can only happen when you've had a huge life-changing moment ie breakdown of a relationship, death in family or loss of job etc.
It can happen to anybody, you are not alone.
I decided with this post to split it into two parts. One covering my experiences with my depression and anxiety, which you can find here, and this one which is full of information which will hopefully be of help to some of you who may be struggling and hopefully break some of the stigma surrounding the type of person we imagine to have depression/anxiety.
It's easy to look into a glimpse of someone's life and imagine them to be perfect. That they have no struggles. You only see how happy they are whether it's IRL or Online. I'm that person most of the time - the person no one could imagine to have a struggle with depression or anxiety. I'm young, in a loving relationship, have three amazing children and lead a very happy life. A few weeks ago I shared a picture of myself on Instagram stories asking if this looks like a person who suffers from depression and anxiety. 97% of you said NO. Not surprising as there's still such stigma surrounding the kind of person who suffers from these hidden illnesses. I don't look depressed (if there's such a person who looks like they do exist) I keep myself together, hide it with a mask and a smile. That's not to say I feel depressed all the time but it sneaks in sometimes when I least expect it.
A brief summary of my symptom and feelings that I have or had;
Not wanting to be left alone - but equally not wanting any company
Totally dependant on G
Unable to cope with simple tasks
Unable to establish routines
Unable to sleep
Feeling low about appearance
Lack of confidence
Feeling like no one likes me
Feeling judged (consuming)
Low (no) libido
What’s helped me
Getting to know myself
That’s a tough one for most of us. Finding our place. I think it becomes even more difficult when you become a mum - being totally responsible for another life while trying to hold onto parts of yourself from what feels like an alternate universe. I can’t even remember who I was before becoming a mum (I was so young) so who am I now? Trying to figure that out while raising a child is so challenging.
But for me getting to know myself meant more than my personality, character and likes or dislikes. It was about getting to know my mindset.
I’m unsure if that even makes sense so bear with me...
Whenever I feel or have felt in the past uncomfortable with a situation I would get really overwhelmed between doing the thing I ‘should’ do and doing what I needed to do.
For instance, and in most instances, for me, that is knowing that it’s ok to say NO.
‘No, we can’t come over today’
‘No, we won’t be able to make that’
In the past when we’ve said yes to things I really haven’t wanted to and the repercussions for me have been huge. Sometimes weeks of feeling low, defeated and helpless after agreeing to something that I really hadn’t wanted to do in the first place but have done because we felt like we should. I now know myself (mindset) enough to be able to say ‘no, that wouldn’t be good for me or my mindset’. We all need to make Healthy Mind Choices.
I think the hardest part of making these choices is the feeling that you’re letting someone else down and the guilt of doing that but at some point, you’ve got to stop and ask yourself who is it you’re living life for? I live my life for my family, for my children and my husband but if I’m not at my fullest and healthiest then what can I give to them?!
You cannot pour from an empty cup.
We live in a digital world where you can even control your heating at home from your phone while you’re out. We can’t. We’re not that fancy over here!!
You know I’m a huge fan of Instagram. I love that it’s a space for creativity, support, inspiration but it can also be a devil for comparison.
On days where I was feeling at my lowest, scrolling through beautiful feeds, happy smiles and wonderful announcements you can’t help but compare which is why I think it’s important to remain authentic and honest about where we are and how we are doing.
Do not compare someone’s highlights to your reality. Everyone has struggles that you have no idea about and that pretty picture on Instagram is just a moment in that person's life.
I adore seeing other people happy, hearing of those announcements of pregnancy, engagement, marriage or any other kind of happy times or celebration genuinely fills me with weird Instagram pride. How a community can all come together in celebration of others achievements but I’ve seen the other side too. The sad announcements of hard times and struggles that life throws at us, it brings a different but more uplifting part of this wonderful community of Instagram - the ability to raise each other up, lend a helpful hand or a listening ear or a virtual hug and that to me is an amazing thing.
Do you feel left out of this ‘wonderful virtual village’ I speak of? I hope not. If you do speak up, communicate and explore Instagram and all of its places. You’ll find a tribe that ‘gets you’. It takes time building any relationship and online relationships are no different.
I feel like I’ve rambled and went a bit off topic so I’ll reign it back in. Digital detox. Once in a while, say once a week. Delete the app.
Every night at a certain time - even for an hour - put your phone away. Screen down, on silent. Enjoy some peaceful time where you’re not mindlessly scrolling. If you’re anything like me you can easily lose half an hour responding to comments, chatting or liking all the cute baby pictures or lust after the gorgeous images of #actualinstagramhomes and then when you’ve had enough Instagram, oh I’ll just check my emails, and Pinterest, oh shit I best check my calendar to see what I’ve got on this week. Oh and order that prescription because that’s online now too. Waaaaah whatever happened to be able to phone the dr for repeat prescriptions?!
Anyway, you see my point. Digital detox is so much more than Instagram your eyes and mind need some screen time rest.
I recommend taking this screen time rest with a @spacemask. Of course, you can use any mask you choose but these ones really are something special.
What to do
Are you feeling low or have concerns about your mental health? It’s a scary place at the beginning but it’s so important to seek help. Whether at the moment it’s speaking to your partner or friend or whether it’s time to make that GP appointment please make sure you do.
Why is it so important?
A problem shared is a problem halved.
Sometimes, when you start to speak about all those horrible things that are running through your mind they seem to do just that, they run out of your mind carrying some of the weight they held. A thought is like a tiny seed, good thoughts, watered grow into a beautiful flower that people look at you and see the happiness that in your face.
Bad thoughts are also tiny seeds, but when you feed and add to them they turn into weeds, they grow so quickly and are hard to remove when planted.
If you’re thinking about making your first appointment
When I decided it was time to speak to my GP I had to have it right away so when I phoned and spoke to the receptionist on Thursday to be told I couldn’t see anybody till the Monday I cried down the phone - I felt like I’d lost a little bit of hope. I knew it was going to be a long time before I would feel better and that seeing the GP wasn’t going to magically cure how I was feeling but it was a step in the right direction but when I was told I couldn’t get an appointment for days it felt like I was moving backwards. So during this time, if it happens to you here’s some things you can do;
Write down how you’re feeling during the day.
What time of day are you feeling low?
Are there any triggers?
How did you sleep? Was it restful?
What did you eat? Drink?
Do this each day and anything else you think could be helpful to know. This way when you have your appointment you have more to say than ‘umm I’ve just been feeling a bit down’. Make sure you let them know how it’s been for you. Be real. If you get upset and cry that’s ok too. It’s hard to tell someone how you’re feeling. Especially if you haven’t told many (or any) people.
It’s important as well to let your GP know as there could be something underlying too. It was at the first appointment that I had blood taken and they found I had a badly underactive thyroid condition and had to start medication that I will take for the rest of my life.
Help When You're Having an Anxiety Attack
Count three things that you love and have in your life that you cannot buy.
Imagine your favourite place, how do you feel when you are there? Why is that place so important?
"Grounding is a technique that helps keep someone in the present. They help reorient a person to the here-and-now and in reality. Grounding skills can in helpful in managing overwhelming feelings or intense anxiety. They help someone to regain their mental focus from often an intensely emotional state."
Sometimes the last thing we want to do when you’re feeling low or down is to go out and see other people but once you are out the house I can almost guarantee that the fresh air will help.
It helps me to go somewhere that I’m not going to see many (if any) people so try to find somewhere like that near you.
I hope this helps someone, I'll add to this and get round to finishing off the second part focusing on my experience as well.
As always I welcome your comments, experiences and any questions you may have!