Kehler Counseling Blog
Once you have some years behind you -you may have lived through a phase -chapter-year -period where you -looking back- you knew you were in a 'bad' place, a difficult transition, not 'you', fragile, a 'mess' or even a 'train wreck.' When you were IN that place it may have taken every cell -pore in your body and soul to manage yourself through an hour or a day.
We all have those times. More often than not we don't like to talk about them. We don't want to revisit them. We don't want others to know we had them. We protect ourselves with silence.
I'm posting this blog to encourage readers to review what happened. Rather than avoid it - stop and take some time to revisit it to protect yourself from it repeating.
Review that 'dark' period and list what happened that preceded it.
- What events occurred prior to the 'worst'?
- Did you suffer a major loss?
- Did you lose someone or something you valued?
- Were you managing a major disappointment?
- Did you go through a major change?
- Were you involved in an intensive project, goal, commitment that ended?
- Have you weathered a major disaster?
- Have you dealt with a new and threatening illness, disease or injury?
- Have you had to deal with significant financial changes?
- Did you decide to end a significant relationship?
- Did you make a major decision that went badly?
- Have you moved away from supportive others?
- Were you dealing with a serious injury that required long term rehabilitation?
- Has your family structure changed? Added new, lost someone, someone moved away?
- Have you dealt with a major legal challenge/lawsuit/crime/prosecution?
- Were you laid off, terminated, promoted, transferred in your employment?
- Were you dealing with a tragic loss or event?
Often while these events are actually taking place - we can manage our way through because they demand so much from us. We busy our way through. The details distract us. Supportive people get us through the 'worst days' - often for the initial event - they are truly helping carry us through.
Then things settle down and we might fall apart and not realize how far we 'fell' until we look back at it.
Now I want you to review what started or stopped happening as you slowly spiraled to that place you know wasn't your best.
- Did you stop sleeping your regular schedule? Did you use more drugs - over the counter or prescribed to assist your sleep? Did you try using more alcohol to help get to sleep?
- Did you stop paying attention to what and how much you were eating?
- Did you stop caring about nutrition, calories, portions, when you ate, how much you ate or how often you ate?
- Did you drink or use more drugs to numb, escape, disconnect or tame the negative feelings and emotions you were overwhelmed by?
- Did you stop your exercise routine? Stop going outside as often?
- Did you start slacking off on your hygiene - taking less showers? washing hair/coloring hair less often? Shaving less?
- Did you stop bothering with hair styling, make-up, lotions, perfumes, nails, and/or personal cleanliness?
- Did you stop caring about what clothing you wore - repeating comfortable outfits instead of changing to new, fresher outfits that may be more attractive but less comfortable?
- Did the standard of your home's cleanliness drop? Did you allow laundry to pile up, dishes go for days, ignore the trash, stop bothering to pick up regularly, stop making beds, cleaning the bathroom, vacuuming, removing decorations? Did you excuse it with being 'tired' or apathy?
- Did you start refusing invites from friends to go out, meet for meals or activities finding them 'a bother' or 'draining'?
- Did you spend whole days off napping and laying around changing channels? Snacking nonstop on comfort or junk foods?
- Did you stop participating in activities you used to enjoy or be proud of?
- Did you stop contacting friends, stop texting, stop sharing on social sites?
- Did you isolate from others? Choosing slower times to complete errands and avoid others?
Then review what you did to get OUT of this place . . . so that if you ever go through another phase like that again - you will be more clear about what to do to get out of it faster - more efficiently!
- KNOW YOUR WARNING SIGNS - and KNOW WHAT WORKS to shift you out of it.
- Did you share your distress with someone who gave the right amount of encouragement and support? Who was it?
- Did you reach out to a professional to help guide you through the major change, educate you to arm you, or encourage you in ways you couldn't do on your own?
- Did you set up an appointment - or did someone assist you to follow up with medical appointments that brought relief with treatments and/or prescription?
- Did you get more conscience of your daily routine - monitoring more closely what you were eating? drinking? exercising?
- Did you decide to do something visible about your appearance that increased positive complements? Dressed up more often? Tried a new hair style, make-up, manicure, or outfit?
- Reached out to fun friends and got out more socially?
- Volunteered on a project that had meaning or you enjoyed?
- Moved furniture, closets, 'stuff,' or entire life to a place that was more suitable?
- Started a major goal or project that stimulated your imagination, curiosity, passions?
If you are someone who has had a phase of depression in your life - make your list of warning signs - and share it with your counselor or loved one so they can also hold you accountable and encourage you when they see you slipping. Know yourself. Be good to yourself. Depression is an experience no one enjoys. Life events can blindside us into them. Knowing your warning signs will help empower you to stay mentally healthy for a lifetime.