For as long as I can remember I have suffered from anxiety and depression. Debilitating anxiety and depression where I can't get out of bed, not showering, not talking to anyone for days. It has this way of hiding every so often and I think "OK, I'm better thank God!" and then it rears it's ugly head once again. It's a cycle that has never stopped for me and until recently, I thought would never get in check.
I come from a family who doesn't really believe in "mental health issues". All my life I have been told to "Get over it, you're perfectly healthy, there's nothing wrong with you.' I was never taken to see a doctor and I was never asked what was wrong. I come from a large family and I definitely felt as if I got lost in the shuffle at times. I kept quiet about my needs and because I wasn't getting the help and attention that I needed, my mom and I had a very volatile relationship when I was younger and through my teenage years. I would act out to get attention and we would have screaming matches and then not speak for days. It was a really rough time.
I could go on and on about things that contributed to my depression over the years but I am trying to focus on more of the positive rather than the negative now a days. I wanted to put down in words what has helped me to curb my anxiety and depression and head it off at the pass. I hope this helps someone out there as well.
This has literally been a life-saver for me. I have only been going to therapy for a relatively short time but it has truly helped. There are days that I dread going but I always feel better when I leave. Therapy was (and still is) very hard for me. Going and talking about myself for an hour? Am I really that self-absorbed? Do I just sound whiny? Will this person think that I am just coming off as a brat? I am in relatively good health physically so why am I complaining? My therapist was very up front with me about these feelings that I had and I still have. This was ingrained in me from when I was younger. Your mind is just as important to take care of as any other part of your body. I needed to make sure that my "ass was in that chair every week." (therapist words, not mine, haha) I had been told the wrong things all my life and going to therapy has been the best thing I have ever done for myself. There is never anything wrong with reaching out and seeking help.
This is a relaxation practice that my therapist told me about. It has been a complete game changer! You can get these on different platforms but I use SoundCloud because the app is free and the programs on it (for the most part) are free. You can just search 'iRest' and A LOT of results will populate. My favorites to listen to are Annie Okerlin and Amer Khan MD. Now to warn you, there are different types of iRest. Regular meditation and then ones for sleep. If you do the one for sleep make sure that you are ready to SLEEP! It is meant to relax you and get you to sleep faster and stay asleep longer. If you do one of those in the middle of the day you will feel very groggy and out of it for the rest of the day. Trust me, I made that mistake when I first started doing it. I was feeling awful after I meditated and I couldn't figure out why since I thought it was supposed to be helping me. My therapist figured out that I was doing the wrong kind of iRest! I tend to do a 20 minute iRest in the middle of the day for a great mid-day boost. There are different lengths of iRest sessions available so you can use one that suits how long of a break you have in your day, or how long you mentally need to to it for. If you are looking for more information on iRest check out this site.
I know that this may sound simple and like a no-brainer and honestly, you may be wondering why this is on my list but it has truly done wonders for me. I like to get up before everyone else in the house and go for a walk. I don't listen to any music or anything. I simply go outside and listen to the birds and whatever else I hear. I breathe deeply and try to completely clear my mind. I know it sounds very simplistic but just try it. If I feel an anxiety attack coming on during the day I will take a walk at work as well. It just helps to reset and calm down the nerves.
I live in Michigan where most of the year it is very grey and on top of my regular Depression, can send me into a Seasonal Depression as well. I discussed this with my therapist and Primary Care Physician and they recommended that I try taking some Vitamin D and B-12 supplements. I wasn't getting it naturally through the sun so I needed to get it some how. It was amazing how just that little vitamin changed the way that I felt! Please always discuss with your doctor before you start taking any supplements but if you would like some information on Vitamin D and it's effects this is a great site. Here is some information on Vitamin B-12.
Again, this may seem like a simple answer but it is truly a great one! I tend to talk to myself and it really helps me to vent when I don't necessarily want to talk to anyone. I have an avoidant personality (therapist diagnosed) so I tend to go inside myself when I have an issue or I like to be on my own to figure things out for myself. I have ALWAYS talked to myself. I can remember being caught as a kid numerous times and being asked who I was talking to. I was never embarrassed by this because honestly, who is going to listen to you better than yourself? Sometimes you just need to vent and you don't need an answer or a retort or even for someone to try and make it better. So, I listen to myself. Strange, I know, but man does it work. It also keeps me from saying things to people (especially my husband) that I know I would regret down the road. If you aren't comfortable just randomly talking to yourself then journaling would be a great alternative for you. You can get everything that you need to, I just don't write fast enough sometimes. Just scribble!
There are so many other things that you can do to help ease your anxiety, especially when you are having an attack. I know that in that moment all you are thinking about is that it's not going to get better, that you are going to have that feeling forever but it will pass. There are people out there who love you and that want to support you!! If you don't feel like you have that support system, reach out to me. I'm not just saying that. If you need someone to talk to, to vent to, or to just have somewhere to write what you are going through I am here. I know how difficult it can be to find someone or something to help, so just know. I AM HERE.
**Disclaimer - I am not a medical professional and I am not here to diagnose or treat any disease. These are my opinions and views. I know that I don't have medication on this list but that doesn't mean that it won't help! I have taken many medications but I am currently trying other options.