Last week for Wellness Thursday, I moved off the topic of physical fitness and into mental well-being. It turns out that it was a very timely post, because I’ve had rather a shit bag of a week.
My Mental (Lack of ) Well-Being
Life is presently throwing some changes at me, most of which are thoroughly unwelcome. I’m not good with change under the best of conditions, so much so in the last 15 years the only changes I can really recall looking forward to was the birth of my kids.
Outside of that, I pretty much hate change. Even going on vacation is a source of trepidation and stress for me. No matter how much fun I have during the vacation, the planning and travel, even the return to normalcy upon getting home are unpleasant experiences for me. Which might explain why I’m one of the guys whom the company forced to take time off this month, due to too much back vacation time.
Anyway, as a hater of change, with serious changes being forced upon me, it’s been a stressful time, a time where I’ve had to very seriously watch my mental well-being. I sank into a pretty deep depression over the weekend, and only got out of the tailspin midweek.
By Monday I was in pretty rough shape. I was;
- Unshaven (it got so bad even the neighbours noticed)
- Exhausted from sleeplessness
- Jacked up on too much coffee
- Constantly hungry, but not eating
- Sharp with the boys
- Couch locked
Are you familiar with couch lock? I’ve heard stoners talk about it. It’s the feeling that you are simply unable to motivate yourself to get up off the couch. You’re not sick or disabled, you simply cannot motivate yourself to get up and do something.
Now, I’ve fallen into these depressions periodically over the years and they’re bad enough that they’ve affected the course of my life. There have been times when I needed to get motivated, energized and moving forward and…couldn’t. Because I couldn’t, I simply missed the goal I was striving for.
Fortunately, with age and experience, I’ve learned some things. The first is, these things pass. Fortuitously, my depressions are bad, but not clinical. They invariably pass with time, and without medication.
As a result of knowing they will pass, the second thing I’ve learned is to keep perspective through them. Knowing they’ll pass means I’m smart and experienced enough not to make life altering decisions in the midst of one.
Thirdly, having screwed up my life because through depression-fueled lethargy, but also having learned that n time they’ll pass, and knowing not to let them affect the course of my life has taught me basic coping skills, and here we come to the nut of it.
I have a great life. A wonderful wife, three awesome little boys, a good and stable job. I have the time and luxury to pour my thoughts out to the world, and the time and luxury to dream and plan to take it further. If I want to keep those last bits, I cannot give up the first bits, and along the way, I learned to cope with depression by managing my mental well-being.
- Focus on one thing (my family) to keep me going
- Do the necessary tasks to take care of the one thing (my job)
- Find the minimum I can do to keep from spiralling deeper (I chose to keep the publishing streak alive)
- Practice active acts of self-care and self-discipline (maintain personal hygiene, especially oral hygiene)
- Focus on the rollercoaster ride to find the bottom
- As the bottom approaches, begin to add acts of normalcy (shaving, eating better, cutting down on the caffeine, maintaining a better sleep routine)
- Never stop looking past the trough to the future, know that better days are coming and do nothing to make it worse
Through it all, though this tire fire of a week, I focussed on my family, my job, my writing and my future. I forced myself to take care of my physical health and my appearance because maintaining those had the effect of improving my mental well-being.
I write, all the time, about maintaining your physical well-being. I don’t write often enough about maintaining your mental and emotional well-being. Tend to both…they’re interrelated. Conjoined twins, if you will.