Pretty much all of my life I have suffered from depressive episodes. Some more intense than others. Some lasting longer than others. But each time I have been able to find my way out of these low moods. At times, taking to my bed for hours, days or sometimes off and on for weeks, pausing and reflecting always gives me the space to find my own answers.
Having said that, there have been numerous times when the help of professionals has been a key ingredient to feeling better. It can be an incredibly lonely feeling to be so low and desperate.
These low moods that have me feeling overwhelmed with emotion; namely frustration, anger and sadness, are a deeply painful experience. Keeping a firm grip on the reality of my life at these times by following a proven process, gives me perspective, but it doesn't always get me out of the funk.
Here are 5 things that help me to not only process, but to feel better; sometimes allowing me to move forward easily, other times temporarily until I dig deeper:
1. Thinking. Being very aware of my thought processes. This allows me to look at my thoughts without judging them, and to try to figure out why they are there.
2. Feeling. Allowing every feeling to surface, and allowing myself to feel each to its fullest extent. If it means crying or sobbing, I do that. If it means taking a walk or doing something to get the energy of my anger out, I do that.
3. Journaling. Getting my thoughts and feelings out is so cleansing. When I see them on the page it enables me to go deeper, rather than ruminating on one thought or feeling. I can extrapolate each to see exactly what is going on.
4. Exercising. As much as this is the last thing I feel like doing at these times, it is one of the best. With fresh air and the movement of my body, I can begin to let the emotion pass through me. And, the endorphins help me to feel better, even if temporarily.
5. Nurturing. Taking care of myself is most important at these times. Once I have worked through the above process, doing something kind and nurturing for myself is a comforting act of self-love. Taking a bubble bath, having a massage, watching a movie, doing my nails, meditating or doing a short yoga practice for calm are some of the things I do.
For me, the most important part of the process is getting unstuck. When I find myself in these states I can feel completely trapped, as if there is no way out. The thinking, feeling, journaling and exercising help me to get a clearer perspective, to physically move the feelings, and to come to a new place. Without a doubt, every time I go through this process, I have new realisations about the situation at hand.
Other factors that have influenced my mood in the past have been my vitamin and mineral deficiencies, and the food I eat. Cutting down on both sugar (including too much fruit) and alcohol makes a massive difference too.
If you've got something you'd like to share about this, I'd love to chat with you about it in the comments.
Please seek professional help if you feel the need. Talking to your doctor is a good place to start as there are services available. There is great information and help at depression.org.nz too.