Depression & Anxiety

Being Prepared for the Next Funk

be prepared for next funkSo, we've talked about fighting the funks and also how to know when one is coming your way. But you can't always ward them off right? So what do you do when the inevitable happens? Most of the time (if we're honest) we give up, freak out or implode. But what if you were prepared, not to keep the funk from happening, but to deal with the funk when it rears its ugly head? I've said it before and I'll say it again: no one is exactly the same so what works for me won't work necessarily work for you. But, my experience may be able to clue you in to what you need to do to help yourself. When you're in a funk, it's a lot of work to just function let alone fight off a funk and get back to normal. But the easier you make things on yourself, the easier it will be for you to deal with the funk and ultimately move past it.

Instead of a step by step list of "here's what to have on hand and how to be ready", I've divided my thoughts into categories so that you can figure out what might work for you personally.

Personal Health

The first thing that slips is, not surprisingly, physically health. Making sure that good, wholesome foods are on hand and easily accessible is one way to help curb the unhealthy tendencies that generally pop up during a funk. Keeping a regular sleep schedule is also important as is physical exercise. The more you can get into a routine with sleep and exercise when things are good, the easier it will be to keep those habits when the crap hits the fan. Yes, it will be hard and it will be rough. But it will be worth it.

Put Good Stuff In, Get Good Stuff Out

Just like with physical health, your mind requires "nutrition" to be able to be at its peak potential. We are absolutely bombarded with messages on a regular basis, many of which we have no control over when and how often we see them. But there are moments when you do choose what your brain consumes. Moments like listening to music in the car, relaxing on the couch at the end of the day or how you occupy your time while waiting in line or at a doctor's office.

Make sure you always have positive options at your fingertips. For me, this means having specific playlists on Spotify for various moods, a number of motivational books on my kindle and even uplifting quotes or images on my phone and as my wallpaper. A friend of mine, Angela Mager, talked about this in one of her latest posts and how you can strategically place motivational items around your house to keep you focused on goals and contribute to a healthy environment for yourself. The more good stuff you put into your head, the more good stuff will come out of your thoughts (and then your words, emotions, and actions).

Getting Your Pity Party Crashers on Speed Dial

I have some wonderful friends and family in my life and let's be honest: I know who to call when I want to indulge in a bad mood and those that will pull my head out of my ass and get me back on the path where I should be. I intentionally put my friends who love me enough to tell me the truth and hurt my feelings at the top of my favorite list in my iPhone because they need to be the first ones I call. Otherwise, I'll just be spinning my wheels. Again.

Know Thyself

I can't stress how important it is to pay attention to your moods, thoughts, patterns and behaviors. If you don't, then your funks will always surprise you and you'll never see them coming. Trust me, that's not the way to live. It is a good way to drive yourself crazy.

There are a ridiculously infinite number of ways to get to know yourself, but the first step is just to pay attention. Most people go through the day and never give a thought to what they're doing or why they're doing it. Even if once or twice a day you stop and ask yourself why you're doing something or really investigate how you feel, you're going to be ahead of the game.

What are some things that you do that help you prepare for the funks?

6 Ways to Tell When You Are Heading for a Funk

heading for a funkRecently, I talked about how I was in a funk but managed to get out of it fairly quickly. We all know the best medicine is prevention, right? That's not a surprise and to be honest it shouldn't be. Want to be healthy? Then don't get sick. The true is for your emotions. I am not a psychologist nor professional therapist and I certainly don't pretend to be one. I also am not a big fan of the term "expert" because I believe that implies that you know pretty much everything there is to know on a given topic and I am a self-proclaimed life-long learner.

But I do know me, at least to a certain extent. I am constantly learning more about myself as time goes on and that's because I've become more and more proficient at paying attention to what's happening. You and I are not exactly alike, nor should we be. Everyone is different. But I have found a stunning number of similarities between myself and the women that are constantly placed in my path.

So, let's get back on topic, shall we? When it comes to fighting the funk, the best thing you can do is not get into one at all. Boy, that would be great, wouldn't it? It's not exactly realistic because no one is in complete control of their emotions. (But imagine that for a second: what if you could control your emotions and feel what you want to feel when you want to feel it all the time? Mind = Blown)

So if you can't be in control of your emotions, the next best thing is to recognize what's happening with you so that you can be aware of it and take the appropriate actions necessary to bounce back. When I am heading to a funk, it's something I can feel. But undoubtedly, there are a number of tell-tale signs that pop up in the days leading up to the fall that can clue me in. Here are my big six:

  1. My eating / sleeping habits change - Most often, I notice that it's harder for me to wake up in the morning. I feel more sluggish and more inclined to hit the snooze button. When this persists, it's my top indicator that something is coming that I'd rather not have happen. I've also noticed that I stop eating in my generally healthy manner. I don't get crazy about being healthy, but I do try and take care of myself. That starts to go out the window and it's always gradual. If it's abrupt, I'm dealing with  more than a funk.
  2. I hear myself say "I don't want to talk about it" more often - I don't share a lot of personal information with the people around me, but I do have a strong support network that I turn to when I need guidance or advice. There could be minor things going on like stupid issues at work, or an annoyance with an acquaintance and when someone asks me what's going on, instead of talking through it to find a sound solution, I start brushing it off. A lot. When I start consistently doing this, I am beginning the process of isolating which is very dangerous for me.
  3. I start dreading social obligations that I generally enjoy - I am not what many would consider to be an extrovert. I like my quiet time and professional networking events tend to leave me exhausted, even when I genuinely enjoy myself. But I do have an intimate group of friends that I like to spend time with and some hobbies and interests that I can really get lost in. When I start dreading an upcoming knitting class or get-together, that's a clue that something is a bit off-kilter. For me, the next phase would be to cancel those engagements for no good reason, so I have to watch that.
  4. I stop daydreaming - I am a dreamer. I have no problem admitting that openly. Envisioning an exciting future is an enjoyable pastime of mine and it can encompass my personal life or my professional aspirations. If I notice that I haven't been doing that or that the thought of doing that is overwhelming or exhausting, something is up.
  5. I feel different (physically) - I don't know about you, but my funks FEEL different. I feel weighed down, pressured, sometimes even deflated like a balloon. I feel sapped of energy even when I'm motivated to do something that I enjoy. It's hard to explain, to be honest, but I know it when I feel it.
  6. My choice in entertainment changes - My preferences for entertainment are widespread. I like television, movies, music, reading, knitting... and I frequently change what I'm looking at or doing depending on where I am mentally. But when a funk is coming, the music that I listen to is different as are the types of books and shows I watch. It's worth mentioning that I could be in a good mood and if I start listening to aggressive or "downer" music or watch a depressing or particularly intense show, that can impact my mood. But when the funk is coming, it is reflected in my entertainment choices.

So, there is my list. There are so many other signs out there, but these are the ones that I experience most frequently and consistently. What are your signs that tell you that you are heading for a slump? Have you ever paid attention to that before? Share your thoughts in a comment below.


Fighting The Funk

Yesterday was not a good day. At least not emotionally for me. It really started on Monday. I could feel it coming. I knew it was coming. I'm familiar with these kind of days. They just sort of happen. It's most likely a chemical thing for me because these are the days when life is truly good and nothing is really triggering it. But there it is: a down day. fighting funkI've been having "down days" for years. They come and they go. They usually only last a couple days at most and if it goes longer then it's something else and I have to deal with it. But yesterday was a down day. I had no motivation, no focus, no drive. I was just sad. And I had no reason to be sad which just made it even worse.

It took all my energy to NOT go back to bed. Like I said, it was just one of those days. Having depression and anxiety can do that to a person.

But today, I'm good. In fact, I was much better starting at about 6 pm last night. A lot of times, these funks can last a while and I have to really push through them to function, to do anything that shows forward movement. But not this time. This time I bounced back and I was good.

So what happened? I thought about what I would tell a friend or a client. And then I took my own advice. Here's what I did:

I acknowledged what was going on

I didn't try to fight the issue. I just let it happen. I accepted the fact that it was a down day. I took it a step further too. I told a couple people so they knew what was going on with me. There's nothing like crashing a pity party by inviting some friends over.

I got moving

I got out of my seat. I got showered and dressed. I packed my laptop and I got out of the house. I went to a coffee shop and I got to work. I made a list of things that needed to be done. I let the overwhelm hit me. And then I kept moving.

I transitioned with music

This is something new for me. Instead of playing "happy music" to try and instantly boost my mood, I started with something a little easier and let the boost happen on its own. I have several different playlists on Spotify for different moods or activities. I have a mellow(ish) playlist that I call "Writing Music" that includes artists like Muse, Death Cab for Cutie and Mutemath. I let that music pull me up a bit and then I could listen to "happier" music.

I accomplished something

I have a ridiculously long to-do list. But I don't hate it. I love to be busy. On the down days, that list can be incredibly overwhelming (like yesterday) but it gives me a focal point. And I attacked it. I crossed off a few things (I'm talking less than 10% of what was on the list) but damn did that feel good. They weren't huge projects. They weren't monster tasks. But they were accomplishments.

So, now I'm good. Things are back to even keel. Will this work every time? I have no idea. But it worked this time. And that is what truly matters.

Life Beyond the Pain

It can be more than a little difficult when you are sitting in the pain and the hurt to see what is beyond the immediate life beyond painmoment. The pain is so big and so... just... THERE, that it is hard to even think about looking around it to see what else might be coming. These are the times that you shy away from the clichés, the quaint sayings, and the adorable signs that you see at craft shows. These are the times when even the thought smiling and trying something new seems so ludicrous that it's laughable. The times that scream "nothing is ever going to be the same" and "why bother?"

I know what that feels like. I lived in it for a long time. But I found a way out. And so can you.

I want you to take a second and imagine what life can be like when the pain has subsided. I didn't say when the pain is gone... let's be realistic, shall we? But it can die down a bit and recede into the background of life. It can become part of the landscape rather than the focal point. And it doesn't have to beat you.

Take a second a imagine what your life could be if that happened. What would change?

Would you sleep better? Maybe sleep less? Would your energy bounce back?

Would you see friends again? Make new friends? Be ok without old friends?

Would you try new things? Resurrect old hobbies? Take a risk? Settle into comfort?

Would you take better care of yourself? Of others?

Would you express yourself through art? Through physical exercise? Through your professional life?

Would you get up and move? Or would you finally sit still?

Pain and grief affect people differently so the absence of them will also create different effects. What does freedom look like to you? What does it feel like? Because that is what we're talking about... FREEDOM.

What does being free from the pain and the hurt that follows you around and that has you under its constant scrutiny sound like to you? Is it terrifying? Exciting? Does it sound like a fairy tale? Yes Virginia, freedom from pain does exist. And the best news? Everything you need is inside of you. You just need to bring it to the surface.

Imagine your perfect day, free from pain and worry. Hold on to that image. Keep it close to your heart. Now take a deep breath.

You are one step closer to getting there.

Welcome to the journey.


A Beautifully Anxious Mind

Yesterday was one of those days. No matter what I tried to do, the mind was reeling. Focusing on anything of merit was damn near impossible. The brain just wouldn't turn off and settle in. It took several reads of an email to comprehend the request and hours to get things done that would normally take half the time.

Such is the life of living with anxiety disorder.

Normally, I get really frustrated with it especially since I was officially diagnosed. I'm hyper aware of it now and constantly ready to do battle. Granted, this is something I've had for years but it's just taken a more definitive shape since the doctors gave it a label.

Following the diagnosis, I was met with higher levels of anxiety than I've ever had to deal with before (I was now anxious about being anxious which is a vicious and eroding cycle) but also a sense of relief. THAT'S why I do those things. THAT'S why I feel that way. It all makes so much more sense now.

Anyway, yesterday (and a good portion of the day before if I really think about it) was a challenge. Sitting still? Yeah, sure, let me get right on that. Reading? Maybe a paragraph or two. Getting something organized? A-ha! That is the key.

I have learned that distraction is a blessed thing when it comes to dealing with anxiety. Anything that takes my mind off of me (and it has to be something physical for me... I can't just turn on a funny TV show and call it a day) is going to help. Long story short, I got a few more organizational projects done:

  • Cleaned up the bookshelf and all the stuff I had piled around said bookshelf
  • Cleared off what we lovingly refer to as "the baby station" where we keep all of the baby's stuff
  • Organized the desk drawers
  • Cleaned up my closet. Well... at least the clothes. I haven't touched the shoes yet but that will come

The list is still there in my {re}discovery plan and I still have a ways to go. But I'm happy with what I've done for the first half of the month. And I'm dealing with (rather than suffering from) the anxiety. My mind works the way it does for a reason. I haven't quite figured out what that reason is, but it's there and I need to use it. Someone I love deeply tells me to channel it like a kung fu artist and take the anxious energy and use it for good. I'm learning. It's not a bad thing unless I make it a bad thing. It's not a setback. It's a challenge, yes, but one I'm willing to face with a little help from my friends.

When You Lose the Bounce-Back Factor

Loss is not easy. I realize I'm most likely talking to a group of people who have encountered their own share of loss in life (who hasn't?) but I just had to say it.

It's been a tough couple of months for me and I've experienced more loss than I really thought I could ever deal with in a short of period of time. Without getting into a lot of details, I've definitely had more than I'd like in terms of life's downs. I could definitely use some ups. Now would be good.

In my lifetime, I've dealt with loss frequently. There's no doubt about that. I've been through the stages of grieving and I've stood by others who had to do the same thing. It doesn't matter if it's a loved one that has passed away, the loss of a job, the loss of a dream, the loss of pet and it also doesn't matter how the loss happened. Loss is loss. And I thought I had a pretty good grip on how to deal with it all.

But I've realized that maybe I don't.

You see, I had a miscarriage recently. It's the third baby that my husband and I have lost and the first two were awful. Truly awful. It has always been my worst fear in life to lose a child. And I've done the whole "why" conversation with myself, but the fact is this: it is what it is. That fact of course doesn't make it easier.

This time it's been harder than ever to bounce back. The past couple of weeks have been almost zombie-like for me. I've welcomed distractions like work, getting the kids ready for their upcoming school year, crafting, a little travel and a plethora of other things that I'm trying to use to get back into the swing of things. And it's helping somewhat. But I feel like I'm constantly pushing through a dark cloud to try and "be happy." I'm aware of the stages of grief and I know I've been through all of them in varying degrees. But the fact of the matter is, I'm sad. I'm just plain sad.

But I've decided to keep moving forward.

Every day has been pretty difficult and it's been a challenge to try and be positive in the everyday world. It's part of the reason I haven't blogged here much lately because I'd feel like a fraud. But it's time. It's time to move forward and do something. And I'm making progress. I'm writing again and I'm working on various projects that really get my creative brain flowing. I'm hanging out with friends, I'm spending more time with family. I'm reading really wonderful books that are beautifully written. I'm trying new things and testing my creativity.

But it still feels like something is missing. Like there's a piece of this puzzle that if I just figure it out, I'll be able to have a really amazing picture. So I keep trying things to figure out what that piece is.

The reason I'm posting this (and believe me I debated for a long time whether or not I was going to post on this) is I'm looking for some guidance and suggestions from you. What do you do when you seem to have lost the bounce back factor? What works for you and what doesn't? I'd love to hear about it. And I thank you for listening.

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