Just Gettin' By

03 May, 2013

Big time disclaimer on this one! I was never a big fan of talking about "triggers" until I finally, FINALLY, worked out for myself what words, topics, actions, activities could in fact trigger my depression and anxiety and I would hate for this post to do the same to others. Even as I sit here, proof-reading what I've written for today, I have to remind myself that I am o.k. and I would never want someone reading something on my blog to have to worry about that as well. 

Did ya'll know that May is Mental Health Month?

Mental health advocacy is something that is extremely important to me. I know I have talked about it a bit here on the blog but haven't really dove into it for a number of reasons, mainly being the fact that it is becoming increasingly harder to talk about. I've been accused of being extremely detached or cold when friends, family, acquaintances try to talk about to me about (heavy) things but I have to be. It's a coping mechanism. I "allowed" myself to let it in, allowed myself to always feel something when someone needs a shoulder to cry on, it would break me. And trying to explain to someone that you are protecting yourself rather than them in their time of need, is a really difficult thing.

I was first "officially" diagnosed with an anxiety disorder when I was twelve, although I remember having my first panic and anxiety attacks as well of thoughts of self harm and suicide when I was much younger. Through my teens and into young adulthood I struggled with those same thoughts, but on a much scarier level. Even now, as a thirtysomething who has (mostly) come to identify her triggers, worked out a plan that brings me back from the edge when I need it, it is still a daily struggle.

There are days when it takes all my strength to get myself just to roll out of bed. I fight anxiety and panic attacks almost daily. I am constantly fighting against the voices in my head telling me I am worthless, unlovable and that everyone would be better off without me. And unfortunately I still, without really knowing how I got there, will find myself on the bathroom floor, sobbing uncontrollably fighting the urge to do something to myself.

These feelings don't just "go away" because my therapist thinks I'm doing wonderfully or because my doctor has given me the o.k. to reduce my meds to see how I do without them. Despite being told by friends and family, "You are the one choosing to be happy or sad" or "It's your choice if you are depressed", I don't get to wake up in the morning and say to myself "Today, I'm not going to be depressed anymore!" and have it all go away. There isn't a switch that gets turned on and off on a whim. This is something that will linger for the rest of my life and something that I will have to live and work through for many many years to come.

A few weeks ago, Jes shared on her blog the things she is able to do when Shit Days Happen which was a post that couldn't have been shared at a more perfect time for me. As I said the other day, things have been a little rough around here. I've found myself dealing with with some intense anxiety attacks and depression even if I didn't realize that is what it truly was until last weekend.

Reading Jes' post reminded me that I too had a list of things that I could do to help pull me away from the edge. I don't remember writing the list (I'm sure it's an exercise I had been given at some point from a therapist) but it's been with me for a long time. And even though some of the things on "the list" are no-brainers, sometimes when you're that close to the edge, you need a little reminder, a nudge back to the person you really are.

I thought, in the spirit of sharing and help and for Mental Health Month that I too would share my list. These are the things, as simple as they may seem, that I have come to rely on when I need a little extra help from myself:

  • Write: Sometimes you have to get the funk out. Talking doesn't always work for me, so putting the thoughts down in a journal or on paper (and burning the paper at a later day) is one of the best ways to cleanse myself.
  • Listen to music: I tend to listen to music that fits my mood when I'm struggling. I think it goes back to the whole idea that songs can give voices to emotions we are otherwise unable to express.
  • Run or go for a walk: Getting outside and enjoying the fresh air is so important for me. Even sitting under a tree and listening to the sounds around me can put me at ease. Side note: I am sure on of my previous therapists would be doing cartwheels if she read this. I don't know why, but I fought against doing this for years, but now that I am older and wise have come to realize that of all the things on the list, this has been the most helpful thing that I am able to do for myself. 
  • Meditate: See above.
  • Create something: Focusing on art or making something (I tend to bake, a lot, when I'm stressed) refocuses me enough to be able to start to put things in perspective. 
The list isn't terribly long or involved, but those five things, sometimes on their own or combined, are enough to calm my bad days. They don't fix them, but they help me deal with them.

How do you handle/cope with bad days?


  1. It took me a long time to hit "publish" on this post. It is not an easy topic to talk/write about. You'll be able to write about it for yourself when you are ready.

  2. Learning what I need to take care of myself and figuring out how to make sure I actually got what I needed was huge for me. It's still difficult, but so worth it in the end.

  3. I applaud your courage on writing and publishing this. It's a difficult subject that people who don't have experience with, typically don't understand. It's like you mentioned, friends making comments that one can choose to be happy. My therapist recently "diagnosed" me with dysthymia and I've heard the same thing for years. People don't understand that there's a chemical imbalance, it has nothing to do with a choice or will power.

  4. I could not have stumbled upon your blog or read this post at a better time in my life than now. Admittedly, I have many of the same coping mechanisms as you do and have dealt with depression/anxiety as long as I can remember. I wasn't officially diagnosed until a few months ago when I finally admitted it, but I've also struggled with multiple personality disorder for quite some time. For you to publish this? Bravo. I love you for it.


Thanks for reading!