Sometimes when you’re sitting in a place of darkness, it’s hard to find your way out. Even if you are aware of the darkness and you have the desire to step into the light, the prospect can be daunting, confusing, and a little scary.
- How long is it going to take me from feeling better?
- What if my efforts don’t work?
- What if I’m putting in the work for the wrong thing?
- What if this is just my life from now on?
Before coming out of the darkness, what put you in there needs to be addressed – otherwise, next time you’re triggered, you’ll end up back there. If you’re just sitting in the darkness, it’ll never go away. You need to be moving in order to escape it. No matter how small a movement, a small step is better than nothing. Sometimes some sort of therapy helps but if you don’t have that accessibility, there’s a few things you can do that can be beneficial.
What does your darkness look like? Depression, anxiety, stress – whatever – can manifest itself in many different ways.
For me, my first signs are that I often stop caring about my physical world; housekeeping is lacking, personal hygiene suffers, physical appearance declines, dietary intake shifts, more coffee and less water… Emotionally, I’m more volatile, more likely to cry than laugh, more irritable, distracted, sensitive to comments…. Physiologically, I get more migraines, more digestive issues, sleep issues. I also spend more money on things I don’t need.
Here are some steps I’m taking to get out of my darkness:
1) If it’s within 15 minutes of my alarm, I will get up and shower. Every morning.
2) Upon completing my shower and getting partially dressed (I don’t put on my full uniform until closer to the time I leave) I will have a bottle of water (750 ml) before having any morning coffee. Have you noticed that when you pee first thing upon waking, it’s very yellow? It’s because you’re dehydrated from sleeping. Your brain is also something like 75% water – so if you’re habitually dehydrated, it will affect your cognitive function.
3) I will make more effort in my appearance at least 2-3 times a week. Being in cadpat (uniform) it’s easy to simply not care of your appearance. We’re not allowed to wear makeup (or VERY minimal) or have our nails done but starting this Friday, we’re allowed to wear civvies once again – but only Fridays. As it was, today I decided to do something different with my hair. I’m limited in what I can do with my hair, but I was getting tired of just pulling it back in a ponytail. This morning, it’s all pulled back, but I used 3 different elastics – one at the top of my head, the second at the back of the head, and then the base of the neck. At the elastics at the top/back of the head, I pulled the hair through the top of the elastic to create a “twist”. Yeah, I’m doing a shitty job explaining it, but the point I am so poorly trying to make is within the first couple of hours, I’ve had a compliment about my hair.
4) I will make more of an effort around the house. Thank goodness for my husband, otherwise we’d be in trouble! He implemented a new rule; “put away, don’t put down”… I have a bad habit of leaving things where they are – even if I put them there, even if their proper place is the garbage. I accumulate used coffee mugs and dishes on my side table – and if/when my husband does dishes, he doesn’t go through the house collecting dirty dishes – and why should he?.
5) I will meditate more often. Meditation is a wonderful tool which everyone can benefit from. I used to do it all the time – meditation and Reiki – but since moving to Ottawa, I’ve gotten out of the habit. Since I’ve started a guided meditation podcast, I’ve been doing the meditations and I’ve been feeling more grounded and better focused.
6) I will develop an evening routine to promote better sleep. They all say that blue light (TV, laptop, computer, phone, etc) disrupts your sleep. I’m going to start heading up to bed at 8pm or shortly after. I can wash and moisturize my face, lay on my acupressure mat, do some face cupping, listen to relaxing music, meditate… whatever. I did it last night – and you know what? I slept quite well! I also took less medication than previous nights. When it comes to sleep meds – or mixing meds – it’s not always the amount you take, but a fine balance of what and when. Too many drugs or the wrong combination of drugs doesn’t guarantee a better sleep; you need to figure out what works best for you.
7) I will watch what I eat. When I start feeling like shit, I tend to eat more convenience foods and junk foods. I do believe in balance and eating these convenience foods should be enjoyed without guilt, but too frequent may have detrimental effect on you, both mentally and physically. I find I feel better when I eat healthful foods – a variety of fruits and vegetables, whole grains/rice, lean meats, and healthy fats.
8) I will try to be more physically active. Exercise is a fantastic mood booster thanks to a release of dopamine – but, unfortunately, is a highly under-utilized anti-depressant. I’m not as active as I’d like to be. Not by a long-shot. This time of year, though, it’s challenging. SOME people run year round here, but when the temperatures don’t even get into the positives, I want to hibernate and not even go outside unless I absolutely have to! BUT, we just got me a pair of skates to hopefully get us out skating this winter.
9) I shall watch how I’m spending money. My spending got bad a few weeks ago. And now that I’ve received some of the items, I’ve been returning those I could – some I couldn’t due to them being lingerie, but figured my husband wouldn’t mind, lol! But other things, I definitely don’t need… and in some cases, didn’t really want! But the decision to make the purchase and having it finally in my mailbox was a dose of dopamine I so desperately wanted. Now I’m being more conscious and careful about what I spend money on.
10) I will be aware of my alcohol intake. This is very important to me – to ensure that I’m not drinking to numb, and not over doing things. I’ve declined alcohol on a couple of occasions, so that’s a positive start!
Feeling like this sucks. But all you need to do is take one step in the right direction every day – even on the days you really don’t feel like it. Just one menial task that you know should be done but you haven’t felt like doing. Whether it’s laundry or dishes, or go for a walk; something to move you in a direction where you want to go.