Dorset Mind Young Ambassador, Alice, shares her story with us, and talks about how re-framing your thoughts can help when dealing with depression.
This time last year I was severely depressed. I could barely bare to be awake, I wouldn’t get dressed, I would self-harm, I wouldn’t eat, I wouldn’t go out and I wouldn’t speak to friends or family.
It took so much to survive that. I fought long and hard to get some stability back in my life and I’m still here. I slowly added things to my life, and put things in place over the last year that have helped me.
Then those things were threatened with Covid-19; the thought that I might lose them now as a result of having to stay at home and isolate filled me with fear. How can I stop myself going back to that existence, that I fought so hard to get out of?
Then I framed the question differently. Not ‘I can’t do these things anymore’, ‘I can’t get out’, ‘I can’t see friends, my girlfriend’. But rather, ‘I can’t how I normally would, but how can I?’
I started asking, what do I need to stay healthy? And what are creative ways I can achieve them?
Asking this now, being proactive and setting up things in place that will help me over the coming weeks has given me more control over myself and my wellbeing. It has reenforced the fight in me that it took to recover the many times I have had to over my life, and reduced those fears.
So when I changed the questions, when it became, ‘what do I need to stay healthy?’ I came up with new ways to bridge the gap. Yes, they may not be the same. Yes they are not as good at times and I miss things, but they are enough to keep me healthy.
Connecting with people.
I did find the prospect of phoning and FaceTime even with close friends anxiety inducing. But it has got better the more I’ve done it, the more I realised I needed and wanted to talk to them, and to support each other. If this was the only way to do it at the moment, it will do. I’ve also started messaging people more, even if its funny updates or pictures from my day, because it’s including the people I love in my life, even in small ways.
During my last depressive episode, art journalling became so important. It was free space to write any thoughts and images that came to mind, unedited and meant just for me. I have started doing a page a day since being at home. It helps also to be honest with how I feel. Angry for having to be apart from people, annoyed with everything. I wrote that down. There is strength in admitting that.
What do I like? That’s what I have been going back to. I’ve seen people going out for runs, I’ve looked at all the things I could do, thought I should do. Yet, I paused and went back to me – what is something that relaxes me? what is something I can stick to? And for me it is yoga, not for hours, not pushing myself too much, just something to get me moving.
Doing things for Dorset Mind and doing shifts as a volunteer for Shout not only helps others but it helps me. A big thing that you can lose when you are depressed is purpose. So, even though my normal public facing job isn’t there I can still find purpose and meaning in my life whilst at home. Feeling you have purpose is what makes life worth it, find what it is, even if it looks slightly different at this time.
I hope you may find something helpful in these musings. Importantly, make things work for you. What do you need to stay healthy? And give yourself the space and time to do these things. It’s not about what works for me, it’s what works for you.