Mental Health and Your Inner Bitch
Well, seeing as it’s mental health week we thought we would share something here on that subject. Whilst drawing on your inner bitch is about looking to your inner strength – that fire or the steely woman inside – it’s important to acknowledge that there are times when she is glaringly hard to find.
I count myself very lucky in that I’ve never suffered real depression or anxiety, despite both my mother and sister having regular bouts of them, especially depression. Like anyone else though, I have experienced dark patches, times when I haven’t been very hopeful, motivated or feeling good about myself. Over the years, however, I’ve learned to look out for the warning signs and, when I spot them, head it off. My three personal warning signs would be:
1. Not being able to read a book. For me, reading is a real pleasure, but I know when I’m getting into a dark patch, that my ability to focus declines. When I can’t concentrate on a book, or even can’t face picking one up, something is wrong.
2. Staying in the bath! I love my bath. It’s a warm cocoon and, incidentally, where I do a lot of my reading. I have a bath first thing in the morning but, when I’m not feeling myself, my baths take longer and longer, as if I don’t want to emerge into the world that day. Not a good sign.
3. Getting involved in other people’s issues. This is a great distracting technique for me.I’ll just help this person and that person so I don’t have to think about what’s going on in my own life. Of course, I always want to help but, when I’m a bit wobbly, that helping goes up a few pitches, as though there’s something desperate about it. When I was going through my own divorce a few years ago I was literally on the other end of the phone for some of my friends until the early hours of the morning when, in truth, it should have been me that was seeking the support.
Likewise, I thought it would be useful to share what three things I find helpful when that happens. Again, I must stress I’m not talking about full blown depression, as that’s a different thing entirely.
1. Floradix. Liquid iron and B12: this can often head off a dark patch at the pass. I use the liquid formula rather than the pills, and often feel my mood elevating in a couple of days.
2. My SAD lamp. If it’s winter I may be missing sunlight and I find a week of 20 minute daily sessions can also boost my mood.
3. Therapy. I’ve dipped in and out of therapy over the years, using talking therapy to get me through bereavement and a break up and CBT to help with recurring nightmares. I can’t praise it enough once you find the right therapist.
I also think that it’s our own responsibility to look after our mental health, as much as our physical health. This means thinking about what steers us off course and unbalances us, what can lead us back and what actions or things doe regularly can top up our mental health. Look at our post on self-care for some inspiring ideas.
It would be great to hear if you have noticed if you can spot downturns in your own moods and what the signs might be, and what you do about them. Please do leave us a message in the comments below.