For all the times I’ve talked about depression on my blog, I’ve never written about it while experiencing a particularly bad patch. There was always an element of safety and distance that allows for a healthy amount of navel gazing, self reflection, growth and positivity. Currently? Well those things couldn’t feel further away. Over the last month I’ve suffered a relapse with all the signature hallmarks of my worst days. Panic attacks, suicidal ideation, crying fits, lack of energy, focus, mood swings, desire to self harm- you know, fun stuff. Everything for a time just feels (and is) harder.
Which is why Self Care is so important. It’s recognising those behaviours and taking care of yourself in small ways. It’s why when FestivalFashion.co.uk asked me to design a t-shirt to raise money for Young Minds – a charity focusing on mental health and welfare for children and teens – I said yes. And yes, it was about promoting the charity and opening conversations but also it was a gentle reminder. It was time to join the Self Care Club.
T-shirt: Bee Waits for Festival Fashion
Necklace: Bloody Mary Metal
I found one of my greatest fears when deciding to do this was that I’d be seen as trivialising mental illness, making something so debilitating “cute” and “fashionable.” It took a lot of time to come up with Self Care Club but in the end it was to become a personal mantra as much as it was about encouraging a sense of solidarity and openness. It was to be a constant reminder to take care of myself. When I feel nauseous and numb coupled with a sense of dread and heaviness, getting up to do even the simplest things can be exhausting. Making the bed. Brushing my teeth. It’s why I’ve tried to make sure I’ve got a reason to leave the house every day. Otherwise it’s all too easy to slip in to the same old destructive behaviours that can be, if I let them, all consuming.
Right now I find myself tired thinking about tomorrow. I feel restless and exhausted as the same time. I’ve had to ask my husband to stay with me because of negative and dangerous thought patterns. I find it difficult to breathe. My stomach is a mess. My mouth is always dry and I frequently feel like I’m going to throw up. I see my life slowly go up in flames around me and am paralysed by a conflicting blind panic and unsettling apathy. Everything that goes wrong feels deserved. Because it is who I am. Someone who is lazy, weak, awkward and empty. It would feel easier if it could all stop as on the worst days, I feel like I’m just gasping for air, just below the surface and wishing for relief. And sinking feels like the easier option. It’s so visceral and I am doing everything I can to fight it. Medication, therapy and self care. Because on the days when it feels like I’m fighting a losing battle, the small victories like doing a load of laundry or washing my hair can make all the difference. So if you can, join the Self Care Club and donate to Young Minds today. But most of all? Take care of yourself.
Tools that are currently helping me:
Start – Not just a pill reminder, this tracks your progress, symptoms and also gives you reminders when to plan your next appointment. Free and great for making sure you no longer run out of your meds again.
Mental Illness Happy Hour – “Not a substitute for therapy, more like a waiting room that doesn’t suck.” A weekly podcast that tackles all the bad stuff that goes on in our heads and listening to this has made me feel less alone, shameful and guilty.
7 Cups – 7 cups is another great free app, this one that can connect you with active trained listeners when really you just need an ear. I haven’t used the chat feature of it yet, but I do “keep my cup full” with tiny little positive steps each day. This can be as simple as a gratitude journal or writing 2 things I did well. It’s a handy little tracker for keeping things in focus.
Various videos on Youtube for sleeping – I’m finding it incredibly difficult to sleep so will often listen to sleep mediation videos on Youtube. It can be the only thing that switches off that internal monologue and let me get some rest.