One thing that I’ve learnt through this journey is that depression, anxiety, stress, anger, can strike at any time. You think you’re having a good day but it always has the potential to go tits up.
I have taught myself many ways of dealing with these feelings and a few years back I would have laughed at the thought of having to sit and write these down. The thing is, when I started suffering, I wish someone had given me a list of things that I could do to help me calm down. A get out of jail free card that I could use when I see the red mist descending and stop me having that Michael Douglas feeling in Falling Down.
The first thing I do is tell myself that it is ok. That the person in front of me does not deserve to feel my hatred by way of a swift kick to the gonads! A deep breath and a step back actually does work most of the time and can bring the situation down from boiling point to a slow simmer.
Secondly, I fold washing. That may seem the last thing that you want to do when smoke is coming out of your ears but believe me it works. I found out that I’m pretty good at folding clothes straight out of the airing cupboard. Nice even folding, calmly laying them in a nice pile. One for the kids, one for the adults. And done. At that moment when it’s all going wrong, you need something that makes you feel like you’re not a complete failure. I also clean down the kitchen side or rearrange items in the fridge. Very simple things that are easily accomplished.
Thirdly. Go to bed. You don’t have to sleep and dream about fluffy unicorns, but you do have to slow down your brain. Limit the madness that flows through your thoughts and look at something you like. Whether that’s aimlessly flicking through Instagram or randomly picking out your favourite episode of Only Fools and Horses, you need to find something that let’s you calm down. I often do this when getting in from work. I travel into London to work, do an 11 hour shift and head home again. After this, all I want to do is relax. But that is not realistic. I’m a daddy and a husband and therefore I have a job to do at home as well. So I try and grab five minutes when I get through the door to eliminate all the craziness of work from my brain and set myself up to give my family the best attention that I can.
Forth. Coffee. Coffee is the fuel that gets me through most days. Am I addicted? No. But being on my own in a coffee shop ticks all the boxes in relaxation. I take my laptop and my mobile and I find a comfy chair and plot up for the next few hours. There I get to watch the world go by, write my blog and get lost in the world of YouTube. I also take the time to think about life. Yes that is very cheesy. But since having the shitty times last year, I’ve appreciated more and more what I have. When you read about depression and what it can do to families, I take these times to think about how lucky I am.
Last of all I like to escape from my usual surroundings. When I first took time off work I decided to jump on a train and travel up to Cambridge. With Google Maps by my side I walked and walked until my feet hurt. Apart from dodging the fucking cyclists and students, I managed to navigate my way through the beautiful lanes and found some amazing spots to just sit and take in the fresh air. Take yourself away from it all and appreciate what you have.
If you’ve managed to get to the end of this without falling asleep then thank you. This won’t help everyone and to most it will seem silly. But to those who just need that helping hand to stop them jumping off the proverbial cliff, please try these ideas and let me know how you get on.