Oh May, you were kind of a special month! It felt like riding a rollercoaster. Decisions for the future, beautiful moments as well as painful moments. While life’s natural ups and downs are somewhat manageable, sometimes all the positive affirmations in the world can’t change the way you feel in a moment of overwhelm, sadness and/or pain. But should they, anyway?
I’ve spent a big part of my life struggling to overcome this feeling of sadness and emptiness that’s lurking in the background, waiting for me to slip. I spent quite some time asking myself if it’s all just in my head. It took me even longer to recognise that I have been and still am suffering from depression, even though, over the years, I’ve been in and out of therapy and I was even taking medication for a brief period of time.
Am I depressed?
Well, let’s just say I have a hard time processing my own feelings and I struggle to cope when life starts to feel like a pressure cooker. And yes, sometimes it seems a lot easier to keep myself busy, check out and ignore it all. Doing that won’t improve or resolve anything though. I know that. Accepting and exploring these feelings of discomfort on the other hand, as scary as it might be, could.
“Fall in love with taking care of yourself. Fall in love with the path of deep healing. Fall in love with becoming the best version of yourself but with patience, with compassion and respect to your own journey.
- s. mcnutt
As May is the month of mental health I decided to share some things which help me when life just feels too much to handle.
I’m not talking about basic self care practices like taking time for self, taking a bath, nourishing your body with healthy food or treating yourself to a massage. Sad days or just feeling overwhelmed in general is something I find myself struggling with on a regular basis. It’s a process.
1) knowing that “this too shall pass”
I know, this sounds like a cheesy phrase and within your darkest moments reciting this probably won’t console you. However, recognising that this moment or day isn’t going to last forever can be tremendously helpful. Remember that you’ve survived any given shitty moment so far.
2) seeking professional help
Making the decision to seek professional help and get into therapy is scary yet sometimes necessary. I feel like for the first time in my life I have the tools to identify where the feelings I mentioned above are coming from. I also know, in theory, how to make myself feel better. Plus, I recognise that the person who has to put in the work is ME and ONLY ME. However, if I feel like I can’t handle things on my own I won’t hesitate to look for support.
3) collecting information
Reading books or listening to podcasts about the topic can be very helpful to feel less alone. I can’t even count how many times I just wished to be “normal” and happy like everyone else out there. In that moment, it didn’t occur to me, that I’m not alone. So many people are dealing with the same issues, the same feelings, the same sense of helplessness. What I read about or listen to ranges from scientific publications about depression to stuff about brain health and nutrition. In this regard, knowledge is the power to help yourself.
4) staying present in my body aka. yoga
There’s days and weeks when I honestly don’t feel like rolling out my mat to practice. Thing is, the days when I don’t want to do yoga are the days I need it the most. Disconnecting from my body is the worst thing I could possibly do in moments of sadness or pain. It easily forms into a habit, and a dangerous one at that. Over time all you feel is numbness. Excessive amounts of alcohol, food and movement are only a few examples of my own journey I’m going to share with you here. If yoga isn’t your thing worry not. Any form of mindful movement can bring you back into your own body and the present moment.
5) a good amount of “harmony”
It might sound silly but my dog has helped me through countless days when I didn’t even feel like getting up in the morning. Apart from just always being there for me, acting as my cuddle buddy or making me laugh, the responsibility that comes with caring for another living being gives my days structure. Caring for her comes with duties I can’t just abandon – no matter how I feel. There’s something special about having a fluffy friend that just quiets the mind and calms the soul.
“Feelings are much like waves, we can’t stop them from coming but we can choose which one to surf.”
- Jonatan Mårtensson