The Write Array by Jeanné Olivier

A personal blog about Mental Health, Anxiety, Depression and Mindfulness.

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Recognising the signs

For me, Depression is a burning flame I carry inside me every day.

Some days it’s a little flickering candle and some days it’s a glowing lantern, but on some days it’s a raging wildfire threatening to destroy everything I care about. 


I’ve learned that I need to try and recognise the signs as soon as possible, so when I realise that I’m not quite myself my personal routine goes a bit like this:


Be mindful of what it is I’m feeling.

Acknowledge that I might be depressed.

Assess my mood level.

Recognise where I need to make changes and/or get help.


It is quite easy for me to get caught up in life and not recognise when I’m in trouble before it feels like it might be too late.  


But, I constantly remind myself that I WANT TO BE HAPPY!  So, I MUST try to establish what it is that I can do in THIS moment to help myself to feel better.  


Sometimes I only need to do one thing to get going and feel a bit more productive, which gives me the courage to move on to the next thing.


Obviously it sounds much more straightforward than it really is, because in reality I am not that mindful of my emotions all of the time.  


I don’t sit and analyse how I’m feeling every day, so a relapse often happens in one - or a combination - of the following ways:


Sometimes I can go for days, or perhaps even a couple of weeks, feeling a bit irritable, lethargic or just slightly off because I feel like I might have PMT, or I might be on the verge of getting a Migraine (I suffer from Chronic Migraines).  Eventually I will realise that there is no physical reason for the way I’m feeling, and that I am actually low.  


Sometimes I acknowledge that I’m feeling down, but I think that I am genuinely sad - like recently when a close family friend’s daughter was diagnosed with Cancer. I expect that the sadness will pass, but I realise that I might be in trouble when I’m still teary and restless and feel like I can’t get over it after a few days.


Sometimes I feel too busy and I get overwhelmed with everything we have going on - socially, or personally, or work - and I will start cutting back, often isolating myself in an attempt to get control over my time.  But, the less I do, the less I want, or feel capable to do, and I start to feel even more overwhelmed and useless before I realise that I’ve hit a dip.


It’s an everlasting challenge for me and it definitely helps me to get into the habit of being more mindful of my emotions. Especially if I can be specific about what it is I am feeling, and then attach a positive action to that emotion.  So it will go something like this:


What are my emotions today?


Unhappy? 

Irritable? 

Overwhelmed?


Do I know why? Can I identify anything specific?


I feel lethargic, fat and unattractive, but I feel like I don’t have the time or energy to exercise.


I feel unproductive and like I haven’t accomplished anything useful today, but I am overwhelmed with everything I think I have to do.


Can I think of anything I can do to move forward?  For example:


I can have a shower, wash my hair and put on some clean clothes.


I can have a healthy meal.


I can go for a 10/15/30 minute walk or do a YouTube yoga video.


I can make a list of simple chores I think I have to do, but don’t feel like doing e.g:


Do the grocery shopping


Edit for 10 minutes


Read a chapter


Do the filing/admin


Respond to an email/phone call


Unpack the dishwasher


Put the washing on


Iron the clothes


I can choose to spend 10/15/30 minutes doing ONE of the chores on my list.


Nine out of ten times I will feel slightly better after I have gone through the routine above.  


Firstly because, personally I really do feel better after I’ve had a shower, washed my hair and put on clean clothes, and even better if I put on a bit of mascara/lip gloss. I just always think at least I look okay then, even if I don’t feel it.  


Secondly eating something healthy and going for a walk/doing yoga physically makes me feel healthier and releases endorphins which will give me a little boost. 


And, thirdly writing a list and ticking off an item will give me a sense of purpose and often creates the momentum to carry on doing the next thing. 


Hopefully I will then feel like I have managed to have a reasonably normal day, which will give me a small sense of achievement, which is always positive.