This time of year is hard and it is very easy for me to find myself backpedaling with my mental health. Part of it is that there is just so much change. Change in seasons and weather. Change in the amount of sunshine vs darkness. Change in my children’s lives with back to school and trying new activities and getting used to new schedules and routines. I am notoriously bad with change. Add to that the negativity of news and elections and money stress and it is easy for me to start sliding.
It all starts with little things. I start eating like shit. I stop sleeping because my mind won’t turn off. I lose interest in doing things that make me happy because I am just so fucking exhausted from the lack of sleep. So I stop going to my yoga classes and I quit running. I spend more time on the couch. I disconnect more from life.
My brain takes this opportunity to start to lie to to me. It starts with little niggling insecurities and moves on to bigger and bigger sweeping generalizations. Eventually I am a terrible mom. I am a terrible wife. I am a terrible friend. I am a terrible human. I am useless. I start rapidly descending down the rabbit hole of self doubt.
In the past this kind of downward spiral would lead to suicidal thoughts and ideations. I would think that I am so awful I don’t deserve to live and really everyone else is better off without me anyways. I’d be doing the world a favor if I wasn’t here anymore. Down, down, down.
But I do not find myself there this fall. At least not at the bottom of the hole.
I am struggling, true. I thought I was getting pretty bad, yes. I started fearing the worst was coming again, absolutely. But then I remembered something. I remembered my toolbox. All of the tricks and tips I have gained from therapy. Sort of my mental first aid kit.
I remembered to stop and breathe and take an inventory of sorts. I am still going to yoga albeit not as frequently. I am running occasionally, when I feel like I really want to, but not constantly like a compulsion. I have a weekly date with my bestie and I am still leaving the house to do things with my hubby. I baked cookies the other day. I have not walled myself off emotionally or physically from the outside world. I am still taking pictures of nature and recognizing beauty. I am still seeing color; not everything is grey.
Fuck you brain. You fucking liar.
From there I can pep talk myself into making some small changes. I will start eating better. Less sugar, more veggies. I will make it a point to get to yoga 2 times a week. I will not pressure myself to run if I don’t feel like it. I will do those fucking dishes in the sink. I will volunteer at the kiddos’ school. Baby steps. Little things.
I have to remind myself that I don’t have to do ALL of the things. Doing some of the things is totally acceptable and really probably normal. Also everything doesn’t have to be awesome all the time. Sometimes it is okay to be just okay. And sometimes it is okay to not be okay. Neither of those things is a failure. It doesn’t have to be all or nothing.
It doesn’t have to be all or nothing. This is the thing I will struggle with all the way to my grave. But I am learning. Slowly.
So today I will go to the pharmacy and pick up my refill of my meds and remember that I am taking steps to be okay. Lots and lots of little steps. I am in a much better place than I was a year ago. I am okay. And that is okay.
It feels okay to be okay.
If you are struggling I encourage you to dip into your mental first aid kit and take an inventory. Be gentle with yourself. Remind yourself that it is okay to just be okay. And if you feel like you are absolutely not okay and you find that inventory to be empty then please reach out and get some help. Contact a friend or better yet a therapist. Get the help you need so that next time you start down the rabbit hole you don’t go quite so deep.
Love to you all. The unconditional kind ❤
2 thoughts on “Using My Mental Toolbox”
This is a really helpful post for people struggling with mental health issues, it’s great that you have your own ‘toolkit’ to be able to help yourself when you feel it slipping away. Great post and I hope you’re starting to feel better soon!
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I like that you have a toolkit for when something like this happens. I notice that I have some awful days during this time as well. I always feel tired and just flat out don’t want to do things. I need to take your advice and remind myself that it is ok to not be ok and that I don’t have to do everything everyday. Thanks for sharing and love the tips