In the beginning…
I remember my first serious anxiety attack. I was seven years old and was absolutely freaking out because my parents were late coming home from the store. I was irrationally worried something terrible had happened to them.
I remember when insomnia started to affect me. I was fourteen years old. This time in my life had a really negative impact on school.
I remember my first bout with depression. I was fifteen years old. I fell down a really deep and dark hole for six long months.
Fast forward seven years and here I am at twenty-two and still dealing with my mental health. It is a never ending process, but I’ve tried my best to keep it at the top of my priority list.
Here are some tips for things that have worked for me. As well as tips from other sources.
Dealing with Depression
Depression comes in many different forms from a mild “blah-ness” because of the cold, dark winter to extreme forms such as bipolar.
My first tip for dealing with depression would be to identify what’s contributing to your depression. This can range from not opening your blinds, to eating too much processed junk, or too many drinks in the evenings.
I found out that I was doing a lot of unhealthy activities that were just making my depression worse. I discovered what I had to cut out of my life. Then proceeded to choose healthier habits and routines.
The BuzzFeed article, 9 Tips for dealing depression and anxiety at university, lists a few different ways to deal with depression while in school. We all know how hard it is to balance everything in life along with classes, work, eating right and….well the list goes on and on.
The author, Malone, suggests opening up to family and friends and taking advantage of any counselling services offered through your school’s wellness centre.
Dealing with Insomnia
Insomnia is a sleeping condition where people have a hard time either falling asleep or staying asleep. This leads to being tired the next day, being grumpy and even feeling depressed. It is not a fun thing to deal with.
I find that reading before bed really helps. A hot shower. A cup of chamomile tea. Light some candles (lavender scented ones help you feel relaxed). Make it a routine that you can stick to each night.
The National Sleep Foundation suggests a variety of tips to make it easier to fall and stay asleep. For example, no naps, exercise daily, avoid alcohol and other substances that can interrupt your deep sleep.
The article, Sleep Tips for Insomnia Sufferers, offers six other tips. And the whole website is dedicated to a better sleep…So if you suffer from insomnia check out that list.
Dealing with Anxiety
Anxiety has received a lot of attention in the last few years. People are coming forward, feeling more comfortable and safe talking about their mental health than previous years.
The biggest tip I have is actually 2 steps:
Step 1. Recognize when an attack is coming on. Are you biting your nails? Is your chest getting tight? Does your stomach ache? Are you getting a migraine?
Step 2. Go somewhere quiet and breathe. Inhale 5 seconds. Hold 5 seconds. Exhale 5 seconds. Repeat until you feel you have control.
My philosophy on this is that anxiety is a build up of chemicals in your brain and some well oxygenated blood can clear out that blockage in your brain.
According to the website article, 6 tips for dealing with anxiety in public places, on verywellmind.com breathing exercise are a very good tool to deal with anxiety attacks. Some other tips include: increased awareness, leaning on your support system, and not overthinking outcomes.
Handling your anxiety has to begin with what causes it for you. Then the best way to calm yourself so you can think clearly and regain control. It is a lot easier said than done. But learning about your own triggers is the first step.
Educate and be kind to yourself.
When it comes to dealing with mental health, the bottom line is to educate yourself. Learn about the symptoms, talk to others who may have dealt with something similar, be open with your friends and family.
Seek outside help when you feel it is needed or would be beneficial. I personally did not feel comfortable talking about my depression with my mom, in fear it would upset her or make her feel like she failed as a mother. Which she did not, so it was a very difficult situation. That is when a counsellor was the better option for everyone involved.
Research and discuss forms of medication if you need them. You may need a prescription to help control or lessen your symptoms. Look into the effects of the pills. As an alternative to pill prescriptions, you may want to try medicinal marijuana.
WebMD has a short slideshow that breaks down medical marijuana and how it works on the brain. It is a complicated science, and still being developed. However, many people who use the plant as a medicine have said it helps with depression and anxiety.
And c’mon if you’ve ever tried smoking pot, you know the right stuff makes you very tired (burned out) so it can help with insomnia as well!
Above all else, don’t beat yourself up. Don’t hate yourself or be ashamed of your mind. Everyone is different, some of us just have quirks that make life a little more challenging and interesting.