Since I started this blog, I have been diagnosed with a major illness (diabetes), begun to contact grad schools, fallen into a deep depression, finally settled a major lawsuit I have been battling for over two and a half years, researched and set up an appointment with a new psychiatrist, and had my first two evaluation sessions for Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (as well as the everyday stressors of life, but I’m not here to complain). I have had some roller coaster days the past few weeks. I haven’t been here. I’m sorry.
I had the perfect next post planned. Well, it was actually supposed to be the fourth post, but then I got diagnosed with diabetes and that consumed me. Around that same time (diabetes diagnosis/launch time) was 6-8 weeks after my last chronic depressive episode (aka my “go zone” for my next episode). So this episode was shaping up to be a real pain in the ass. I was getting my gear on; my fighting gear—I was going into battle.
Remember that line in my third post, where I outlined my ten-goal/priority areas? And I spoke about how the three most important things to pay attention to in order to succeed were organization, self-reflection (or adaptability), and listening to yourself? (You can just nod along if you don’t remember, because I just repeated the point, good job!) I’ve been paying special attention to these areas, for good reason, so when this depressive episode came around; I had a little time to warrior-up!
Because things were different this time:
- First, I knew when to expect it. Thanks to my blog and bullet journal, I knew when my 6-8 week period began, so I was extra sensitive to triggers—such as a serious new health diagnosis! Since my life changed after being struck in a hit-and-run accident in 2014, meds have usually only gotten me to the point of “not that suicidal” during my depressive episodes. My moods had been fairly unpredictable in Ohio, but since moving to California had become a bit more regulated, even if it did mean accepting that approximately two-three weeks out of every six-eight weeks, I was either chemically manic or depressed (not to mention all the crazy shit that happens in between)!
- Second, I stayed organized. I kept using my bullet journal and the trackers within it. I kept up on morning and nighttime routines, schedules, etc. to keep my life as close to normal as possible.
Though I didn’t come to my Bullet Journal throughout the day like normal during one week, I got back on track quickly (more on the BuJo next post!). I left myself room to be depressed when I was in the depth of it (scheduling one or two things a day instead of my normal 10-12); or saying that it’s okay to just move things until the next day. But by staying on my basic schedules—again more on that coming—helped shorten the time I was depressed and lessen the strength of the depression, as I was at least partially functioning most days…this is an improvement for me!! And for the first cycle since I started, an improvement is a good sign!
- Next, I listened to myself. I took care of myself. Sure, I did the basic self-care needs that are always stressed—getting enough sleep, eating healthy, going to doctor/therapy appointments, taking your meds, self-care, etc. But I did the
“extra step” care needs that SHOULD always be stressed- meditation, visualization, yoga, affirmations, reading/learning, laughing, practicing gratitude, dancing, letting things go, listening to upbeat music, talking or being with the people I love, etc. Having time to “wind down” everyday was also crucial, whether that meant meditating, reading, stretching, watching TV, journaling, taking a bath, or any number of other possibilities!
- On that same note, I talked about my feelings. I did not suppress my emotions like I usually do. Instead I utilized my resources and talked to my friends, my therapist, myhusband, I wrote a blog post, I journaled…all healthy way to work through thoughts and feelings instead of just holding them inside. That never works. Believe me, I’ve tried enough for both of us!
- Also, I listened to myself when it got to be too much. No matter how much you plan, sometimes you just cannot plan for mental illness. You can be forgiving, and you can think you know what’s coming, but there will always be times when you are surprised by your own mind and body. At one point in a yoga class this week, my teacher was using a Tibetan Singing Bowl and the overwhelming word “peace” came over me. I knew through that moment and class that I had been pushing myself to hard, and I needed to back off to get more yin and yang balance in my life.
(Writer’s Note: In my own self-reflection, I realized that self-reflection and listening to yourself are too similarly confusing! What this really means is being able to remain flexible, adapt your schedule/day to the way you are feeling, and adapt what I am saying here to your own personal life instead of taking it word-for-word. Being able to adapt and remain flexible can be hard, because the goal is to create schedules, trackers, and organization that will keep you on track—but you cannot become so regimented by it that it controls your life. Remember that YOUR NEEDS have to remain the priority. So from here on out I will refer to self-reflection as adaptability.)
- Finally, I practiced adaptability. I concentrated most on my priorities, my three goals that I had picked for August’s focus: Family & Friends, Health & Fitness, and Follow My Dreams. This means that on days that I knew I had to show myself some extra love, I would pick tasks that had to do with those goal areas to keep and let the other tasks go until tomorrow. I also got into the habit of breaking larger goals into smaller, concrete, more reachable goals (i.e. instead of “applying to grad school” say “contact three grad schools for information”) during this depressed time, because that was what I needed to stay motivated. Finally, I will adapt to this and have a plan in place by the next time 6-8 weeks rolls around so that my treasured readers are not left without words for two weeks! Yes, planning ahead is part of adapting.
I want to point out that some good things happened while I was depressed. That does not mean the depression lifted; or that those things were not happy events. I handled myself better than I have in a long time, but I have a long way to go. Life is not fair, people are confusing, emotions make no sense at the best of times, and you throw mental illness on top of everything… well now you’re playing with lithium-laced fire.
Share this Post