So here's something that I learned today: I am not alone. OK, I didn't really learn this, it's more like I was reminded. And I received this vitally important reminder because I reached out to my Partners for Mental Health (PFMH) Community Correspondents (CC) family.
It's been a challenging and hectic few weeks in my life: work is busy, I am planning & saving for a trip, I lost an old school friend unexpectedly, and I had the flu. Basically, normal life - stuff that everyone experiences. For me, however, it all came with a bonus: the recurrence of depression and anxiety.
I am getting much better at managing stress in my life, both the good and the bad stress. But for some reason, when I catch a cold or the flu the depression starts to worm its way back in. I am not really certain why but it could be that my daily routine gets upset. And here's the real thing that I learned today, my aha moment: I need to build more structure and routine into my life.
The thing that I am really great at is asking for help with my illness when I need it. So yesterday, after almost a week at home sick with the flu and the symptoms of my depression steadily increasing, I reached out to my fellow CC's. We have a closed facebook group so that our family, which is scattered across Canada, can chat about things. By posing a single question, "Does anyone else ever feel like this?", I was able to get my answer and along with it, a lot of comfort.
A few of us who were online at the same time started chatting about how to stay vigilant with our self-care. Answers ranged from formal structure and daily goals to a bit more of a flexible approach. I admit that while I am hyper-aware of the importance of my well being and keeping the depression and anxiety at bay, when I get busy and distracted, I often set aside the most basic of requirements. For example, stressful day at work? Fast food for dinner in front of the TV. What I should be doing in this case is eating fresh, whole food and going for a walk after work.
Routine may sound boring as hell but it's the key to well being for most of us who live with depression and anxiety. It's also the key to getting through each day, one at a time. There are many times when all you can do is something seemingly simple like getting dressed. It's the baby steps that make up routine and put you on the path to wellness. Boring routine sounds OK to me if it gets me to a happier place in my life.
During our discussions online this morning, my friend and fellow CC, Allison, shared this clip from the movie What About Bob with Bill Murray and Richard Dreyfus. Of course, it's meant to be funny and it is but it's also spot on. The next time you feel overwhelmed in life, think about Bob and take a baby step or two.
Finally, this post is dedicated to all the amazing people who I have come to know and now call family through my work with Partners For Mental Health. You are a constant source of support, love, and inspiration.
P.S. Want to learn more about mental health issues in Canada? Please visit the Partners For Mental Health website