Since I was little, I have been a master of fake it till you make it. I think that might have contributed to why my PTSD symptoms were delayed in onset. I just got so good at pretending I was okay that I kind of believed it.
Now, there are times that I can’t do that and I end up like last Thursday. I was stuck in bed all day, didn’t wake up until 1:30 in the afternoon and only got out of bed and ate because I was dragged out by my roommate. I helped my own case by texting her “I can’t get out of bed, my legs have quit working” and she came in right away. I knew I needed help but I physically and mentally couldn’t do it for myself. On days that aren’t like Thursday, I have some good coping strategies. Here are some of the things I do to help myself fake it till I make it through the anxiety and depression.
1. Talk to anyone-even the cat
One of the worst places I can be is stuck in my own head. It is like a minefield in there that is just waiting for me to think the wrong thing and explode into shrapnel of negative thinking. When I feel things coming on, I try to get out of my own head by talking through it. I have many trusted friends that I know will listen and talk me through things and when they aren’t around, I literally talk to my cat. Gus is my therapy cat and helps me out when I am having panic attacks. While Gus does not talk back (most of the time) he does snuggle up to me and help me ground myself with sensory details. I can feel his fur and hear him purring and that brings me back.
2. GTFO of the House
When I am at home and I feel the crushing weight of the world it is so easy to curl up in my bed and refuse to move. That is what my mental illness wants me to do. Sometimes it seems impossible but I get up and leave my house. My house is a place where I can give up and let go. Sometimes I go for a walk, sometimes I just go to the library and read in the basement where it smells like old books and happiness. Out of the house I am giving less control to my mental illnesses that are threatening me. I am making a conscious choice to go somewhere and do something that makes me happy.
3. The Gym is my Frenemy
Yes, I hate the gym. I am a couch potato and I embrace it. But, the gym has saved me more times than I can count. Elle Woods had it right, “exercising gives you endorphins, endorphins make you happy, and happy people just don’t kill their husbands” Now in this case I am not killing a husband, I am taking control of my mental health but it still holds true. There have been times I have spent 2 hours at the gym trying to normalize myself and get the edorphins in my brain. It sucks, but it works.
4. Get Creative
I am an artist through words and sometimes yarn. Drawing and painting? Nope. I have tried a lot but I’m just not that great at it. It doesn’t stop me from trying and painting anyway. I love watercolor. Getting creative with anything channels so much energy into something positive. I don’t even care if it sucks, Usually it is just random colors that represent what I am feeling or a bunch of flowers. It feels so good to release my creative energy. Coloring books, while that have gotten so much media and really hyped up, they are so worth it. I love Mandala coloring because it is represents unity and harmony and is intricate and beautiful.
5. The Patch Adams Lesson
LAUGHTER IS THE BEST MEDICINE. I can’t say that enough. My dad runs a physical therapy clinic that focuses a lot of the healing in spirit and mindset. He likes to change peoples mindset about their injury through humor. He makes them laugh and he says the people that laugh, heal faster. The Netflix stand up comedy section has done me wonders. I love Iliza Schlesinger, Aziz Ansari, Trevor Noah, and Jen Kirkman. I have seen the specials many times and I still laugh every time.
What works for me doesn’t work for everyone, and sometimes I have to do more than one of these things to start feeling better. The important part is doing them because it is so easy to let my illness control me and as a major control freak, that pisses me off. You wont win this time! You hear me!