Once a year, Bell Canada sponsors a day called Let’s Talk. It’s a day where people are encouraged to share their struggles and offer support for those living with mental illness. The goal of Let’s Talk is to end the stigma that surrounds mental illness through public conversation.
One of the most difficult things I’ve ever done is write about my own struggles here on my blog. As hard as it was, it was also incredibly freeing.
In case you missed it, here’s the link to my story; https://nfrederick78.wordpress.com/2014/08/13/its-time-to-get-deep-with-nfred/
In honour of Let’s Talk, I’ve compiled a list of my top tips for dealing with the bad days that come when you suffer from anxiety and depression. I call them bad head days and if you’re having one today, I hope this list can offer a bit of comfort. If you find my list to be a useless pile of manure, that’s fine. I hope you’ll at least see that someone else feels the way you do and that you’re NOT ALONE.
NFred’s Top Tips for Surviving A Bad Head Day.
1. Give yourself a goddamn break. Feeling like shit? Anxious? Shaky? Nervous? Heavy? Guilty? Irritable? Tired? Overwhelmed? I’ve been there. I’ve curled up into a ball and wallowed in my own despair for more hours of my life than I’d like to admit. It’s okay to acknowledge these feelings, to visit with them, to take them out for coffee, but that’s all. Don’t dwell there. I know this is easier said than done, but you are NOT all of the terrible things that your head is telling you. You are NOT your mental illness. Yes, it is a part of you, but it does NOT define you. So, give yourself a goddamn break already!
2. Feel like shit but do it anyway. This is one of my favourite mantras. It may not be the most eloquent of sentences, but it has always delivered positive results. Let me explain. Ever backed out of doing something because of the way you feel? Said no to a trip to the mall because the bright lights and crowds make you anxious? Turned down a party invite because you feel to sad to socialize? Walked ten flights of stairs because elevators freak you out? I’ve done ALL OF THESE THINGS. Each time I’ve let negativity dictate what I do, I’ve felt ten times worse as a result. But let me tell you, every time I’ve forced myself to confront my fears, I end up feeling like a goddamn rock star! I still get a rush of awesomeness every time I step off an elevator ALIVE. I guess what I’m trying to say is you don’t have to miss out on life just because you’re having a bad head day. My mental illness follows me wherever I go. Sometimes when it screams nasty things at me and encourages me to fail, I say my little mantra and am able to shove my insecurities into my pocket and move on.
3. Don’t be a player in the WHAT IF Game. As a highly anxious person, I’m a master player of the What If Game. I can What If any ordinary situation into a catastrophic event. For example, tomorrow my son is going to the dentist to have a cavity filled. Routine procedure, relatively low risk, not really a big deal. But, WHAT IF the cavity is so severe that it’s caused an infection in his gums and they have to pull out all his teeth and give him dentures? WHAT IF he has some sort of allergic reaction to the freezing and has to be rushed to the hospital? WHAT IF the dentist twitches when he’s working on my son’s mouth and he cuts him so badly that my boy becomes hideously disfigured?!?!?!? Wowza! All of these what ifs are making me sweat! So what do I do when the what ifs start taking over? You may find this odd, but for some reason, if I catch myself getting all worked up about nothing, I say WHAT IF three times to myself very slowly. Sometimes I say it out loud, sometimes in my head. It seems to help a lot. I’m not sure why, but I think it stops my obsessive thoughts and reminds me that I’m worrying about something that I’ve totally made up inside my own head.
4. Treat yo’self right. If you took a peek inside my mind on a bad head day, you’d be shocked. I call myself some pretty nasty words, hurl some pretty hurtful insults. My mind gets full of doubt and guilt and sadness. It sucks. And the only way to get out from under all of the bullshit is to replace all of the negative thoughts with ones of kindness. Such a simple solution, but so hard to put into practice. You are never as horrible as you make yourself believe. NEVER. So start focusing on all of the unique things that make up YOU. I know, it’s awkward and uncomfortable. It’s hard to say nice things about yourself without feeling like a tool. You can do it! Right now! NOW! Five awesome things about you…GO! Fine, I’ll start;
- I’m creative
- I have a good sense of humour.
- I can bake an applesauce cake that will knock your socks off.
- I have a great imagination.
- I’m a good mom.
DONE! Now it’s your turn…for real!
5. It’s all about YOU. You’re the only one responsible for your mental health. You need to take care of your head in the same way that you’d take care of yourself if you got the flu or strep throat or the chicken pox. If you’re feeling “off” or “different”, don’t hesitate to get help. At the end of the day, I think most people just want to be happy. I know it sounds corny, but happiness truly does come from within. Make sure to take time to do things in your day that bring you joy. It doesn’t have to be much. A walk in the snow, going to the movies, reading my blog…cough…cough! When I’m having a bad head day, sometimes just writing a little bit or watching some terrible TV or reading a bit of celebrity gossip will make me feel better. Bottom line, you have to take care of yourself. You’re the only YOU there is and you’re awesome.
If you’d like to learn more about Bell’s Let’s Talk, here’s the link; http://letstalk.bell.ca/en/
Thanks for reading my post.It means the world to me.
Take care of yourselves and keep that chin up!
Until we meet again,