Mental Health and Wellbeing

Stage 1 Strategies to Prevent Depression Relapse

I’ll admit being diagnosed with severe depression and anxiety was initially scary.  I can see now it was actually really positive. 

To hear someone say I needed help and was in the right place lifted a huge burden off my shoulders. 

Only then, sat in the Dr’s surgery, did I accept just how long I have been “living” in the gloom.  “Existing” is probably a better description.  I had waited for months [probably over a year] before seeking the help I so desperately needed.

On reflection, it’s easy to see how ill I was. But at the time each symptom in isolation didn’t seem like “such a big deal”.  I felt that by voicing them early I was going to be dismissed or seen as being melodramatic.

Now I know that to recognise my symptoms early and put in place positive strategies immediately will

a) stop me from falling further into the spiral and

b) mean recovery is easier and quicker

Of course my Ultimate Goal is to put in place mindset practices and self care routines that mean I keep my depression at bay without any relapses. But life doesn’t always work out perfectly. So I recognise I’ll need to be able to identify and resolve issues before they take over.

Symptoms differ for every individual but here are mine:

Emotional:

Physical:

Sounds fun huh?!  I still have a lot of guilt about not seeking help sooner and the impact that has had, particularly on my children. 

That’s something I will continue to work through and work towards forgiving myself for.  For now, I am focused on ensuring I don’t get sucked into the spiral of depression again.

As well as the mindset practices and the self-care routines I am adopting these are my …

Stage 1 strategies to track my well-being & prevent a depressive relapse:

1. Creative Expression

Finding a creative expression for your thoughts is critical to keep a track on your emotions. 

It’s so easy for days to turn into weeks and weeks to turn into months when we are busy fulfilling our many roles.

By creatively expressing your thoughts and being mindful about doing so it is easier to track them.  For you this could be painting, drawing, singing, writing music, bullet journaling, or free writing to name a few.

For me free writing is how I choose to track and release my emotions. 

I love reading and writing. Yet somehow I have ended up in a career that is all spreadsheets and numbers. So writing was a creative side that had been forgotten and neglected for a long time.  Writing is actually how I realised how ill I was.

Here’s a couple of excerpts from my first few days of free writing:

“I’m exhausted from trying to be stronger than I feel … now I just feel broken …I’m hoping this is my place to find myself.”

“Just rambling … I need my head back in the game … a place where I can retreat & care for myself and come out to be the Mummy I am desperate to be … & am FAILING at currently.”

When I read this journal back I am literally able to feel the desperation come off the pages.  Now I free write and check back the following week to keep an eye on my subconscious mood.

One of the scariest things I have done is to open up about my mental health, but I hope by sharing my ideas, coping strategies, recovery and activities I am able to provide positive suppot and help to other sufferers. Raising awareness and removing the stigma of mental health disorders. Click to connect - I'd love to share inspiration and ideas ...

2. Positivity Focus:

It’s hard when you are ill or rushing around constantly to take stock of the positives in life. No matter how little they are. 

Once you start to be mindful of noticing them – to look for them and note them down – you start to see them everywhere. And often in places you least expect.


One of my early positives is the church bell ringers practicing whilst I stood in the playground one sunny afternoon waiting for T to come out.  If I hadn’t been looking for positives and noticing the beautiful blue clear October sky I’m not sure if the church bells would have registered as anything other than background noise … but that moment, in the sunshine, with the bells ringing, waiting for my little boy, in the playground of our fabulous village school, is now one of my happy places to go back to in my mind.

I keep a note open on my phone and throughout the day I just add 1 or 2 words to remind me of a positive so I don’t forget. Then I can add it to my positivity journal that night.

Another way to do this is to have a jar of positives and each day add anything that reminds you of something good:

  • a cinema ticket,
  • a receipt from a coffee shop you visited with a friend,
  • a scrap of paper with a positive happening noted down eg compliment you received, a kindness you witnessed or experienced.

Whenever you feel like you are getting down pull a random memory out of the jar to focus on and bring positivity back.

3. Gratitude Journaling

Log your positives with this free printable gratitudetracker

I mentioned before in my practice of gratitude that a focus on lack creates a reality of lack.  When you reverse this and actively practice gratitude you are able to see how abundant your life is.  You’ll be amazed at how you’ll also start to attract more positives and abundance too.

By taking stock each day of at least 3 things you are grateful for you’ll be amazed how even the seemingly negative can be viewed positively.

Take the lady who first introduced me to the concept … she once wrote that she was grateful for her electricity bill … and I’ll admit I initially thought she was going a little mad!  But actually it is a huge positive … Her bill meant she had a home that was well lit and heated, a roof over her children’s heads and cooked food on the table.  How lucky are we to live where electricity is available (mostly!) 24/7 bringing us warmth, light and connections across the world!

I’m so pleased that I am feeling the fog lift and my recovery really begin in earnest. 

It’s been a long spiral down before I sought help so it was inevitable that my recovery wouldn’t be overnight. 

Truth be told I was starting to feel frustrated I was putting so much effort in (and that effort was draining in itself).  Now it’s starting to pay dividends.  After my recent CBT session I am reassured that not only are my feelings totally normal but she gave me the perfect analogy for my recovery process:

It’s like I have been wearing a really old, comfortable pair of trainers – and those trainers have started to let the water in and fall apart … so they need replacing.  But the new trainers, although they fit, are not as comfortable and need breaking in a bit.

So it is with emotions and thought processes – my brain is adjusting to the new patterns of thinking and emotions I am feeling … once again I just need to give myself time.  Walk a little way in my new trainers often rather than trying to put them on and run a marathon straight away!

So dearest negative committee in my mind – you have been well and truly told!

I AM WINNING THIS BATTLE!

I hope if you are reading this it has helped. I am currently putting stage 2 strategies into place so watch this space!  I’d love to hear your strategies, tips & ideas … leave me a comment below …

Love Ali x

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