I’ve had my fair share of ups and downs with my mental health. There has been times that were bad, times that I thought I was cured, and times where I truely believed that there was no possible way that I would ever get out of the dark hole I was in.
Over that time I tried everything I could think of to help maintain a healthy state of mind, most of which failed miserably. Somethings I tried multiple times before deciding that they just weren’t for me, other things I found worked well and have continued to use them in different ways in my life despite the state of my mental health. There were also a few things that I found myself doing that took me a while to realise the impact it had and the happiness it brought me.
Sunsets are possibly one of my favourite things that this beautiful world has to offer. I can’t even remember a time when I wasn’t obsessed with them. Im not even entirely sure what it is about them that has me hooked. It might be the colours that are so vibrant and striking. Maybe it is the way that it can completely change in only a matter of minutes. But, I think it is the way that they make me feel. How it clears my mind and soothes my nerves, is like nothing else I’ve encountered. In my darkest times I felt even more drawn to them and found that I was always left with a glimmer of hope as the sun slid out of sight.
2). Mood/Tracking Board
I am very a hands on learner, but I struggle to remember to look back at the progress I’ve made. Unless I keep a visual track record I fail to feel like I have achieved anything. So when my mental health was at its lowest, I created a mood board of sorts to help brighten my mood and keep track of what I was struggling with and achieving. I identified all of the things I was struggling with and that I wanted to work on. They were simple things like eating and showering, along with things like tracking when I would have break downs etc. Doing this helped me to identify what was contributing factors to my lows and also give me a sense of achievement when I was able to mark off the different tasks.
Now, I know sunsets are a part of nature, but hear me out. Don’t get me wrong, the feeling I get from being out in the open amount the trees or near the ocean is very similar to the feeling I get from sunsets, but it really is a different experience entirely. As corny as it sounds its not just the destination, its the whole adventure of it. Especially if you go on a bit of a trek to get to your desired destination. Take it all in- the sights, the sounds and the scenery. It will put your whole life in perspective and all of your problems will suddenly feel much smaller.
** Disclaimer** Please be safe when going on adventures. Ensure you always have a small first aid kit on you and keep a look out for dangerous animals that may live in these environments. I understand that sometimes we need to be alone with our thoughts, but please do not stray too far from your hiking buddy or populated areas in the event that you need help.
4). Positive Affirmations
I was lucky enough to be able to work and live with my best friend. A year or two before my darkest episode were were at a work conference together and we were required to write affirmations about our colleagues. I kept my note from my best friend and happened to find it when I needed it most. The note read “Bex, I love your positive energy!”, and that message was exactly what I needed at the time. I decided that I needed the constant reminder of that and pinned it to my tracking board so that I would see the message every single day.
I then Realised that I need more of these kinds of reminders, reminders of my attributes I was most proud of. So I wrote little notes to myself and stuck them on my cupboard doors so that each day I would got to get my clothes they would be what I saw first. The notes were about part of my personality that my depression and anxiety could not have an effect on. Things like being kind, caring and compassionate. They were things that I had forgotten about, because I had gotten to the stage where I truely believed that there was nothing good about me.
If you are reading my blog you probably can already tell that I enjoy writing. It’s always been that way. When I was a child one of my favourite things to do in school was writing short stories, and as biased as I am, they were good. I recently found copies of all the different stories and there were two thoughts I had reading them again. 1: That I knew what I was doing when it came to writing and, 2: That, even as a child, I was battling the demon that is mental illness. It was clear that even from the beginning I used writing as a tool to make sense of what was going on inside.
But it wasn’t just about making sense of my inner feelings, it was also an outlet to let my creativity flourish. I always felt a sense of calm whenever I would imagine story lines or put pen to paper and fingers to the keyboard. There has been a story that I have been wanting to write for years and even before I had thought of it my father had told me that one day I was going to write a book. Ten years later I have finally started writing that story and plan to dedicate it to him for believing in me. Writing has not only gotten me through so much and helped me make sense of the inner turmoil, but it has also helped to remind my how far I have come and that I can over come anything.