Here in a Canada, January 25 is #BellLetsTalk day. For every text, call, tweet and Instagram post, Facebook video view and use of Snapchat geofilter, Bell will contribute 5 ¢ more to mental health initiatives. So let’s work together to create a stigma-free Canada!
This initiative is awesome and all over Facebook today, I am seeing posts, along with personal stories. People are talking.
Over the years I have had my own issues with depression and anxiety. It probably started in my teen years, maybe earlier. I had a good bout of post partum depression after the birth of my second child, that kind of just snowballed into a chronic low grade depression for years. I thought it was weakness, and I really didn’t tell anyone or talk about it. After all… I wasn’t crazy, I was just kind of blah and sad for reasons I couldn’t explain, or didn’t want to explain. As time went by, and I did a lot of personal work on myself, it has gradually diminished over the years and I am so grateful. Now it only rears occasionally, or when I am under stress.
A lot of my depression came from the inner mean girl that lives in my head. This inner mean girl was taught well by words that were being said to me by adults in my young life. Being told constantly, first by adults, and then a voice in my head that I could not get away from, that I was stupid and fat and dumb, every day for years, does take it toll.
I am by no means an expert on this topic and if you are in immediate danger of harming yourself please call 911 for help. If you are not in that type of distress, then reach out and talk to someone. This can be a friend, a family member or a co-worker. Anyone you feel safe with. Many communities have mental health lines that you can call. Maybe you will feel more comfortable talking to a counsellor. That’s ok too. Just reach out. This is the first step. Sometimes just talking, and getting it all out, even if it means the sobbing, snotty, ugly, cry. It’s ok. You are not alone in this. I promise you. You are not alone.
If someone chooses to confide in you…. please let them know they are safe and not alone. You don’t need an answer for them, you don’t need to fix it. All you need to do is let them know you are there, that you are listening…and hand them some Kleenex. Then invite them to do something else later on… go for a walk or coffee, so they know they didn’t scare you off and you don’t think any less of them.
When you are struggling with depression and anxiety, after you have sought out some help, there are some other things you can certainly try too. Some of these ideas have worked well for me. Again, I am not a mental health expert, you may need the help of a professional.
- Healthy food. Mental health is just like physical health. You need to feed yourself healthy food. Fruits, veggies, healthy fats.
- Move your body. I know it is really hard to get off the couch sometimes. Put your shoes on and commit to 10 minutes. You can do anything for 10 minutes. Put your shoes on and walk outside in the fresh air and sunshine for 10 minutes. Put some music on and dance for 10 minutes. Do some yoga for 10 minutes. If it feels good keep going. And then do it again tomorrow.
- Turn off your social media and the news. Keep an eye on what kind of tv and movies you are watching. Are they positive food for your mind?
- Pet an animal. Animals have so much unconditional love…. and their antics are bound to make you smile. If you have a dog, take him on a walk. If you don’t…. your local animal shelters would love to have you come and spend time with their animals.
- That friend you talked to and opened up to….. call them and see if they want to do something. Coffee? A walk? Paint night?
- A grateful journal. I can’t mention this enough. everyday find 5 things or more to be grateful for.
- Practice positive self talk. If you are like me and have an inner mean girl, every time she says something mean, you tell her to shut the hell up. Replace those words with loving words. In my case…words I wished the adults in my younger life would have said to me. This takes practice… but over time, you will have more positive self talk than negative. Our thoughts become the moments of our life.
- Surround yourself with positive people, and positive situations. This may be hard and take time. It may require you step a bit out of your comfort zone… but even just stepping your toe out of the zone will expand your zone. And who knows…. you just may have fun.
- Do not self medicate. You won’t find what you are looking for in a wine glass or street drugs or even in a bag of cookies.
These are just a few ideas to hopefully get you feeling better. Remember if you are in a serious situation, get immediate help. Reach out, make a call today. Together we can beat this.