Incidentally, I like to read the Bell Jar when I am sad. Today was a day in which I wanted to stay in bed (my mother forced me up at 1pm), mope, do nothing, and repeat as needed. So the following is a list of things I do (or at least think about doing) when I feel like the world is closing in around me and there is no air available. Following on from yesterday’s post, it is so much easier to break these spells if you are aware of the patterns your mind follows in the first descent. This takes a lot of time and work and therapy, but you’ll get there x
1. Shower. Wash away the unpleasantness. Dissolve yourself in just-too-hot water. Water helps.
2. Set an alarm that is out of reach from your bed. This requires you knowing you will not want to get out of bed, but it means you have to get up to shut it up or someone else in the house will get pissed off enough to force you to get up a la my mother, which at the time seems crappy, but in retrospect is great.
3. Make a list. Sometimes I make a list and do absolutely nothing on it. But I feel productive for having made it. Sometimes I make a list of really basic things, like: tidy room, wash self, empty dishwasher, read 5 pages of a book. Ticking things off makes me feel less like a lazy mess, and more like a legitimate human.
4. Play music. Whether this means listening to it or playing it yourself, play it loud and unapologetically. Be emotional. Be silly. Be overly dramatic. Fuck everything. Follow the rhythm.
5. Make sure that you have taken all required medication. Whether this be your anxiolytics, anti-depressants, heart meds, thyroxine, or just your b complex vitamins, take your damn pills.
Hard to start but good to finish
6. Exercise. I know, it sucks. But but but. The endorphins will improve your mood PLUS you feel productive PLUS your body is moving which is good for your health PLUS its a distraction from your thoughts. When I’m super not motivated, I do low impact things like light cardio, walking or yoga. And I pump up the emo tunes and have at it.
7. Look up vague future unplanned plans on the internet. I look up grad school courses and visas to foreign lands, knowing full well that I have neither the means nor the qualifications to do it right now. But it gives me some gist of what might maybe could happen in a few years.
8. Do a 20:10, a la Unfuck Your Habitat. Or do 5:10. Or just pick up your dirty underwear and put it in the wash. Baby steps if you have to.
9. Leave the house. Even if its just for five minutes to walk to Centra to buy toilet paper. The air will do you good. The reminder that people exist will do you good.
10. Talk to someone. Call a friend. Sit down with your mom. Write a blog. HUMAN CONTACT. It’s a scary awful sounding thing, horrible to initiate, worse to maintain, but at the end of the day, there is not beating the support and love of other people.
Avoiding maladaptive coping mechanisms
11. Make rules to avoid the practice. If this means you set a timer for an hour (or longer) before you can engage or you need to attempt x amounts of alternatives before you can use your coping mechanism, try and put something in place to give yourself time to consider the consequences of what you are going to do. For me this looks like: 1. Ciara asking me am I sure I want a drink (often the answer is no). 2. Sitting for half an hour before eating more chocolate (Still a work in progress). 3. Telling someone I feel sick and that I’m upset before purging (which leads to no purging).
12. Use distraction techniques. This is the least useful for me, but others find it fantastic. Leaving the house is possibly the only distraction that works for me. That and college deadlines. If you need something to do with your hands, crafting (especially knitting or crochet) is a great occupier.
13. Make up a similar (but less harmful) alternative. I binge on tea instead of chocolate. I know people who draw scars in sharpies instead of blades. My doctor advised me to snap an elastic band against my wrist whenever I had negative thoughts about my body.
14. Blog. Or go on Tumblr and look at funny stuff and kittens. There are other websites with funny stuff and kittens but on Tumblr you can block certain tags and avoid potential triggers. Huzzah!
15. (Warning: Shameless self plug) Reasons To Not Kill Yourself
Ways to pass the time (when it feels like the day is never going to end)
16. Play Candy Crush. It’s mindless and colourful and you’ll run out of lives within 15 mins so it is not a complete waste of your time.
17. Watch anime. You literally cannot be sad watching Ouran High School Host Club.
18. Listen to Welcome to Night Vale. Its 20 minutes of your life and you will have emotions (mainly positive) at this beautifully surreal podcast.
19. Learn a language. I get these fegaeries to improve my french every now and then, and Duolingo is a super cute way to do it, with sounds and pictures and affirmative ding when you get an answer right.
Nice apps for not-so-nice moods
20. SAM. Its cute, its easy to use, and if (like me), you deal with panic attacks and anxiety, its super useful.
21. Dumb Ways to Die. Its a silly game to make you laugh plus you’ll learn about train safety.
Things to read
22. Hyperbole and a half. If you ever want someone to accurately describe depression in a series of cartoons, this is the website to go to. Just trust me. Just read it. Just go.
23. The Bible (or whatever religious text goes with your beliefs). I find hope and truth and purpose in Scripture. It is a source of good in my life, and there are certainly days when I don’t want to read the Bible, but on those days I want to want to read the Bible. So I pray for the will, for the courage, and know that this too shall pass. If you want to read the Bible but don’t own one, YouVersion is a lovely app. That is also free.
24. I read the Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath because I am a giant stereotype but also because I love it. I love how it so accurately describes how I feel when I feel trapped by the world, I love how much I can empathise with the main character, and I love that it ends with hope.
25. Andrew’s recommendation (and I quote): “Atlas Shrugged to remind me of the power of free market capitalism”