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Coping Mechanisms: How to make it through the day.

Man oh man, am I a mess! I swear, it feels like everything wrong that could possibly happen, is happening.

It has not been a fun start of the year. It’s actually been absolutely terrible.
Each morning that I wake up, slump out of bed, and face the day surprises me. I’m like “How are you even functioning?”
The truth is, some days I don’t function. But I’ve made it through each terrible, shitty, experience because I have my ways to cope.

Coping mechanisms can be so relieving. At least, for me they have been.
And if you are going through something difficult, and have the capability to try one of these out, give it a go. What do you have to lose?

  1. Artsy Fartsy? 
    I’ve always loved to do art. I especially love painting. My family has been really supportive in providing an environment to express myself. Granted, that environment is the dining room table, but it’s still something. 
    When I do feel up for it or when inspiration hits me, I settle myself down with brushes and canvas. I’ve been painting for other people recently. My therapist suggested I try painting what I feel or what comes to mind. Maybe what I see during nightmares. I haven’t gotten to that point yet, but I do believe it would help. 56521567_571640429988713_7105681584849682432_n


2. Stories to tell? 
Okay, so this isn’t for everyone. Some people can’t stand to read or write, but it’s something I love to do. I’ve been working on a book for years now. It’s been a long process and still ongoing. Recently, I’ve been more focused on providing content for this blog. But, I have tons of ideas for my stories whirling in my head. Even if it doesn’t make sense to anyone else, write that story. 

3. Got a journal?
Writing has always been a way for me to solidify my thoughts. When I needed to discuss something important with someone, I tended to write my thoughts down first. Sometimes it’s chicken scratch on a scrap of paper and other times it’s typed up and formatted. 
A previous counselor of mine suggested I try writing down the negative thoughts I had during the day and next to them write the rational response. I would do this each night, documenting how my brain argued with itself.
There are so many ways to journal. It could be giving a go at poetry. Or it could be making lists. 
Whatever helps you relax. 

4. Like to get a little dirty? 
Take that however you please 😉
For me, I’ve been enjoying time outside in the garden. It’s another excuse for the creative side of my brain to squeal in glee. Put on some ratty clothes, throw on a sun hat, plop down in the grass, and go to town. 

This is a work in progress, but boy was it fun! There’s nothing like feeling the earth between your fingers and swallowing bugs by accident.

5. Go outside much?
Nature really does heal. Forget the bugs and dirt, and embrace the way the wind touches your skin. Breathe in the fresh air. Take some pictures to remind you how you felt in that moment. 
My father loves hiking. I’ve gone out a few times with him and although I complain about my sore feet, I honestly enjoy the experience. Walking through undisturbed land, witnessing the beauty of nature, is something else. 
Although tired and sweaty, most of the time, I feel so energized after. 

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6. Can you take my photo?
Something I’ve come to love is photography. I am by no means good at it, but I love browsing through the photos after and reminiscing. Plus, it’s fun messing with editing options and trying to get the best shot. 

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7. Have a pet? 
I love my fur baby snuggles. Holding them close to you face and giving them smooches, much to their detest, is hella comforting. When I’m having a bad day or moment, I go into their designated room and get some good old cat time. 
If you have a cat or dog, play with them. Sit and watch TV with them. 
Talk to them. They’ll probably look at you like you’re weird, but they love you. 
Pet therapy is very real and very useful. 

8. Do you even lift bro? 
I am personally not one to voluntarily make way for the gym, not usually. But exercise is a great way to get your mind off things, and you’ll feel better after too! Okay, so your glutes may be screaming at you any time you sit down and you might have to rub down with Icy Hot, but it’s worth it. 

If your definition of working out is walking the block, walk that block. If you like shopping, make a marathon out of it. Window browse as you circuit the mall. Have an old bike in your garage? Sit on that uncomfortable seat and wobble down the lane.
If all you can muster to do is horizontal running, put some music on and run! 

How to help a sad duck

Okay… Really, this is how to help someone with depression and anxiety. This is based off my own personal beliefs, experiences, and research.

  1. Educate
    Depression and anxiety affect almost everyone. Someone may have one depressive episode once in a blue moon, while someone else could fluctuate into an episode multiple times a year. Most people get a little anxious when having to present, while others may be curled up on the floor in the middle of an airport panicking about too many people, fear of flying, or the paranoia that someone is carrying a bomb. 
    Mental health is just as important as physical health. You’ll research symptoms of a common cold, so why not the symptoms for depression? 
    If you see a friend, family member, or partner struggling, ask yourself why? And if you don’t know why, ask them. And if they tell you, yet you don’t quite understand, look into it. 
    Educate yourself on that persons triggers, symptoms, and coping mechanisms. And while you’re at it, educate yourself on your own personal triggers, symptoms, and coping mechanisms. 
  2. Hold their hand
    Literally and figuratively. 
    Someone with depression may be afraid to seek help. It could be based on negative past experiences or fear of judgement. It may seem irrational to you. It may seem irrational to them. 
    The amount of hand holding comes down to each persons comfort level and needs. In my experience, I wanted both. I wanted my partner to hold my hand, hold me, when I had a panic attack. I also wanted them to help me find counseling and take me to appointments. 
    I literally asked, “Can you help me find a counselor.” And, I had a tendency to ask for my partner to come with me to certain doctor visits. Usually when it was a scary appointment or I knew I would struggle driving home. 
    Not everyone is as vocal as I am. So, just as you may struggle to express how you feel, your partner probably is too. Be the bigger duck and offer help.
    If you are comfortable providing assistance, whether it be researching counseling/health centers or driving to and from appointments, then go for it. Giving a helping hand doesn’t necessarily mean you are enabling that person to not help themselves. It’s okay to hold someone up until they can stand on their own. 

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  1. Take care of yourself
    Now, I say it’s okay to hold someone up until they can stand on their own, but that’s only if you’re standing on your own. You cannot take care of others if you don’t take care of yourself. 
    Being with someone who has depression/anxiety can be draining. It’s hard not to take everything to heart. It’s difficult to keep giving when you feel the other person isn’t returning the same amount back. 
    If, at any point, you start to feel drained or your own mental health takes a tumble…Seek help! It could be as simple as taking a walk around your neighborhood. It can be talking to a friend. Or it could be going to counseling yourself. 
    You need to find a balance between giving to others and giving to yourself. 
  2. Listen
    I can’t express enough how important it is to listen to the person in distress. And distress can show itself in many ways. It could be as obvious as crying puddles of tears or silent as a shrug here or there. If someone jokes about falling down the stairs to end their life or if they tell you how tired they are, listen. Depression can be tricky and deceiving, so it is not an easy task. Even if it’s difficult, don’t give up.
  3. Communicate!!!
    Communication is probably the most important factor, in any kind of relationship. In an ideal world, people would be able to express how they felt with no judgement. The world isn’t exactly like that, but you can try and make it so for your relationship. Try and work towards creating a safe environment for discussions. If both people are open and honest about their needs/feelings, things may flow a lot better. 
    Creating that environment is up to you. It could mean you setup a specific time during the day/week/month to discuss how you’re both doing. It could be going to counseling together with a mediator. However you decide to go about it, do it together. 

I am no professional when it comes to any of these points. But, I try and am currently trying to follow these guidelines.
How you decide to define yourself, values, and relationships is unique to you.
Do what you are comfortable with. Do what you can.