10 Signs Depression is Making a Comeback and What To Do About It

Sometimes depression creeps up slowly, other times it hits you like a tonne of bricks. Here are 10 signs that my depression is making a come back and things that I try to do to combat it.

 
1. Personal hygiene starts to slide.
I start skipping showers, stop brushing my teeth and hair, even getting clean clothes on is an effort. It’s like all this normal routine stuff just takes up too much energy which I don’t have.

SOLUTION: Sometimes I just have to force myself to take a shower, at least every second day. Even though it uses up what limited energy I have, I always feel better afterwards.

 

2. Increased anger.
I have less patience and become more easily irritated by little things that normally wouldn’t bother me. I am quick to lose my temper and then feel guilty about it afterwards.

SOLUTION: I try and take time to breathe and think about the real reason I’m getting angry. Is it worth it or is it something that I should just let go? Do I have a real reason for being angry or is this the depression clouding my judgement? Sometimes just stopping for a minute to re-evaluate helps.

 

3. Increased tiredness.
I have less energy, trouble getting to sleep and struggle to get moving in the mornings. Constant lethargy makes me feel drained an unmotivated.

SOLUTION: I try and stick to a regular bed time, usually around 9pm and I try and limit the use of the iPad in bed at these times.

 

4. Poor diet.
I yo-yo between eating too much or not eating at all. Sometimes I gain weight and sometimes I lose weight rapidly. I binge on chocolate biscuits and other junk food and then feel awful for it after.

SOLUTION: While there is nothing wrong with occasionally having something sweet to eat to make yourself feel better, when it becomes regular occurrence it can be problematic. I try hard to stick to my normal diet and only eat small snacks, usually fruit, instead of chocolate and junk.

 

5. Housework takes a back seat.
My house becomes messier and messier. I have zero motivation to clean anything. Even doing this dishes so I can cook for my family is hard. This one is a cycle because the more mess and clutter that is around the more depressed I become, the more depressed I become the more I can’t be bothered to tidy up.

SOLUTION: Break the housework down into small manageable chunks. One chore at a time, or one room at a time, with breaks in between. I sometimes write a list and tick things off as I have done them as it helps give me a sense of achievement which in turn can motivate me to do more.

 

6. Binge watching Netflix.
I’m sure a lot of people have spent an entire day binge watching a favourite show on Netflix. No problem with that at all, sometimes it’s actually good for you to have that down time. However, when that starts happening for days on end to the determent of other things that need doing, it does become a problem. It happens to me sometimes when my mood is low. I push things away that I don’t want to deal with and immerse myself in a show (or several) to escape the reality of what is happening.

SOLUTION: Use Netflix as a reward instead. Clean the kitchen, watch an episode. Put a basket of laundry away, watch an episode. Cook a healthy dinner, watch an episode. Take the kids to the park, watch an episode.

 

7. Becoming more recluse than usual.
I am very much a home body at the best of times, but when depression starts to kick in I become even more of a hermit. I start thinking friends don’t want me around, that I’m a burden. I think I’m bothering them and that they don’t want to talk to me because they have better things to do than hang out with me.

SOLUTION: I take time to myself when I need it but also try not to decline invitations to go out when they come my way. Deep down I know the thoughts I have aren’t true but it’s hard when your fighting with your own brain. Sometimes my brain can be pretty convincing.

 

8. Not talking.
Having a conversation feels like too much effort. I become quite and tend to keep my thoughts to myself. I stop communicating with the people closest to me. Sometimes this is because I can’t make sense of what is going on and therefore find it difficult to explain and sometimes it’s because I’m too tired and can’t be bothered talking.

SOLUTION: Writing, writing, writing. I get all my rambled thoughts out on paper. Sometimes I will show it to someone and sometimes I will throw it in the bin. If I can sort out what is going on through my writing and make some sense of it, it may become easier to explain to someone else, and sometimes even that might be done through writing.

 

9. Easily upset.Sad Eye 001.jpg
I find myself crying over even the smallest thing. I feel like I have all this built up emotion and suddenly it only takes something little to cause it to overflow in the form of tears.

SOLUTION: Don’t fight it. Sometimes a good cry is very therapeutic. Sometimes I like to put on a sad movie or listen to sad music and cry and often I will feel a bit better afterwards.

 

10. Becoming forgetful and absent minded.
I can’t think straight. I walk into a room to do something and forget what it was. I forget appointments and things I was meant to do. I sometimes forget to take my medication which obviously is not a good thing. I forget words when I’m talking to people. I go through the motions of my usual routine and can’t remember doing some things.

SOLUTION: I try and practice mindfulness. I try and be in the moment and keep my focus on what I’m doing now and not what has happened in the past or might happen in the future. I also write lists, lots of lists, of what I need to get done so I don’t forget. I keep a diary of important dates so I don’t forget appointments or thing I said I’d do.

I Had a Hair Cut, Snippity Snip

Several weeks ago my Nana gave me some money to get a hair cut. Yesterday, after much anxiety, I finally bit the bullet and went in to make an appointment (in person because I hate the phone) and today I had it cut.

I hate hairdressers. I mean they are usually lovely people but are they trained to talk so much or does it just come naturally to them? Making small talk to a stranger while you’re stuck in a chair as they wave scissors around is not my idea of fun. So much so that this is only my third professional haircut in the last ten years. Usually I do it myself of have a family member give it a trim.

When I visit a hairdresser I feel like I have to at least try and engage with the conversation even though I don’t want to because it would be awkward not to, not just for me, well actually it’s awkward for me either way, but for the hairdresser too. I can just tell when they are looking for things to talk about because the responses I give a pretty short. They want to engage me but I don’t know how to have a conversation like a normal person.

Do you know what I think would be a good idea? Someone should start a quiet hairdresser. No talking about the weather, the news or what your plans are for the weekend. In fact, no talking at all other than about how you want your hair done. Selective quiet music, you know that stuff they play in new age hippie shops, something calming, nothing loud and in your face. Perhaps some essential oils going on around the place, but not too strong. Limited bright lights, only what is necessary. That kind of thing. That’s a hairdresser I’d be willing to visit. Someone should do that. I think a place like that would do really well for people with anxiety, particularly social anxiety, people with sensitivity issues, people on the autism spectrum, introverts and people who just like a bit of quiet time.

I have to say though, that getting my hair washed by someone else was nice. The hairdresser I went to had a reclining massage chair I sat in while they washed and massaged my scalp. I don’t know if this normal practice to have a nice chair like that but I enjoyed that part.

The girl did a good job over all given my instructions were “cut it short, out of my eyes, do whatever you think.” Yeah, I was pretty vague about what I wanted but I’m happy with the result. She did well with the “do whatever you think” part of the instruction.

I was given a fridge magnet with their business details as I left. I suspect there may be another few years before my next professional hair cut but who knows, I may be back sooner given it wasn’t as bad as I was expecting.

 

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This Little Piggy Went to Market

I recently heard that Lifeline was in need of donations so when a friend invited me to go to the markets with her on Sunday I decided to go along. I made some home made dog toys to sell with the goal of raising some money for them.

I have to say my anxiety leading up to the day wasn’t great. I was worried about the crowds and the noise and the idea of actually having to sell things and speak to people. But I did it. I actually managed to stay through the whole thing without going to hide in the car.

There wasn’t many people there which was good and bad. It meant my anxiety was lower but also meant I didn’t sell much – in fact I only sold two toys. I made $10 for lifeline.

I have some leftover dog toys which I’m going to try and sell elsewhere and I’m thinking of making some more. It sounds like this may be a regular thing going to the markets and maybe I might go again. This could be a good thing, for me and for Lifeline.

If anyone wishes to donate to Lifeline you can do so here.

 

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#WordsOfKindness

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I am hereby issuing the world a challenge…

 

Background

There are so many horrible things happening in the world today to the point where I can no longer watch or read the news as it gives me too much anxiety. I can’t change any of these things. I am not in any position to stop wars, feed the starving, or create peace in countries that have been brought to their knees from ignorance and intolerance. While I can’t fix any of these bigger problems, I can make a difference in the lives of individuals. I can (hopefully) put a smile on someones face and make their day a little better. With any luck that will be contagious and they will go on to make another person smile and we can spread happiness together.

According to the Wold Health Organisation (WHO), ‘one in four people in the world will be affected by mental or neurological disorders at some point in their lives.’  and ‘there were an estimated 788 000 suicide deaths worldwide in 2015’. Together we can do something about this. We can promote good mental health and well being. We can make a difference.

The world needs to be kinder. People need to know they matter, that they are important, that someone cares. We can do this with our words. Words are powerful and we should use them, so lets use them for good and spread a little happiness. I can’t tell you the number of times someones words have made me feel better with my own struggles with mental illness and in general day to day life. Most of them don’t even know what a wonderful effect they have had on me. It’s time to share those moments.

You never know what is going on in someone else’s life. You don’t know what struggles they are facing or what they have experienced. Your words could have an enormous impact on the life of another by a simple act of kindness.

 

The Challenge

So, my challenge to you is to write five anonymous positive notes that could make someone smile or feel better about themselves. It could be a compliment, a positive affirmation, an inspiring quote or even something as simple as wishing them a good day.

At the bottom of the note write the hashtag #WordsOfKindness. This will hopefully make it easier for people to find out what this challenge is all about and get more people spreading the happiness even further. It will also provide a place on social media for people to share the notes they have found and the happiness they are spreading, if they wish to do so.

Place the note where someone will find it – under the wiper of a car, in a library book, on a park bench, in a cafe, in someones letter box, next to the chocolate in the supermarket – you get the idea.

You can make the note for a specific person or for a stranger to find.

If you can’t write five that’s OK, even one is enough to spread some happiness. If you’d like to write more than five, that’s great, the more the better.

Notes can be as long or as short as you want them to be.

They can be hand written or typed and you can decorate them or leave them plain, it’s entirely up to you how creative you want to be.

Your words and kindness could be just what that person needed to get through their day.

 

Examples

 

 

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Share

Please share this post! Re-blog, share to Facebook, twitter, pinterest, anywhere where people will see it. Don’t forget to add the hashtag #WordsOfKindness when you share. Lets get the word out and start spreading happiness today.

If you’d like to share stories of notes you’ve written or found you can do so on the Encouraging Kindness Facebook page here! I’d love to hear about what you’ve been up to. The Facebook page is brand new so any help to get it kick started would be amazing!

If you’d like to check out the brand new blog associated with #WordsOfKindness you’ll find that here.

Do You Still Sleep With a Teddy Bear?

Do you still sleep with a teddy bear? It’s not as uncommon as you might think. According to a 2011 survey thirty-five percent of British adults sleep with a teddy bear. Although this survey was conducted in the UK, I suspect the numbers are similar world wide. Perhaps even higher if you take into account those that are too embarrassed to admit to sleeping with their cuddly friend.

The thing is though, there is nothing to be embarrassed about. There are many reasons people sleep with a stuffed animal ranging from being a reminder of childhood, to helping you sleep better to easing anxiety. 

Stuffed animals especially help people who have experienced trauma. It had been found that stroking the fur of a stuffed animal gives feeling of comfort and peace. They can reduce stress and lessen the effects of social exclusion. You don’t feel so alone when your cuddly pal is close by.  

I decided to conduct my own survey to see if the numbers in the above mentioned survey matched up. And they kind of did. Admittedly I only asked 38 random people and the other survey had 6000 participants but… of the 38 people I surveyed 31.6% admitted to sleeping with a teddy bear or other stuffed animal. 

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That’s roughly 3 out 10 adults who sleep with a teddy bear.

 

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Compared to the original survey where 3 and a half out of 10 adults sleep with a teddy bear.

 

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My teddy is called Alfie. I’ve had him for years now and I sleep with him every night. As you can see he is a bit worn out from many, many nights of hugging. I take him with me when I go away or when I have to stay in hospital. I love the feeling of cuddling him and he smells like sleep. I find it very comforting to sleep with him and I always hold him in the same way every night. 

 

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Despite my husband thinking I’m a bit strange, I knew I wasn’t the only adult out there who sleeps with a teddy, so I opened it up to the internet and asked other adults about their teddies. This is what they had to say:

 

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“This is Ginger. She is the new bear I hold when I sleep. Used to have Nutmet, who my grandma gave me when I was born. I have dogs now though, and I did not want them tearing him up, so my husband got me this new bear for Valentine’s Day this year. There is just something so comforting about holding a stuffed animal in my sleep. I have insomnia, and for some reason if I am holding something I fall asleep faster.”
~ Emily Brinker

 

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“This is my self soothe kit for bedtime. There is something comforting about the tactile sensation and squeezing Bashful on hard nights is helpful. My 10 year old has a matching one – so we have something in common when we are apart (she struggles sometimes)”
~ Devi Herold Knapp (Devi Knapp Creative)

 

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“Stitch is in my right hand every night, he was a gift from a friend. Up until I was 27 it was a rag doll named Ming Ming who literally fell apart (my first word was Ming whilst pointing at her) and then a panda bear who went missing. Then Stitch was given to me. Can’t sleep without him in my right hand. It’s a tactile Aspie thing for me.”
Nat Le Brun

 

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“This is Koalie. He helps me sleep. He gives me something to hold on to so that I’m not alone. Even if he’s just a stuffed animal, not being alone with my nightmares helps me have peace.”
~ Caitlin Wren (Inside My Head)

 

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“This is Louis. My mum actually bought it as a joke Christmas present because we didn’t have the time to shop for anything expensive, it was also funny because I was 19! That same year I developed a chronic pain condition that couldn’t be diagnosed, dropped out of university and suffered from severe depression and anxiety. I lived on my own at the time and although the days were fine at nights, I felt so alone, it was just my immediate reaction to grab this teddy bear and hug it. Like I was comforting him and he was comforting me. I never slept with a stuffed animal as a child or felt like I needed one. Only when I became physically ill and depressed did it seem to comfort me to be close to something when asleep.”
Jodi Blissett

 

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“Well, I do sleep with em…three in fact! Rowan, Nanook, and Hogan. I enjoy the company when sleeping because I’m single and it’s comforting to have something in my arms. Also, I greet them good morning every day and pretend they are telling me I’m loveable and wonderful. It’s a very nice start to the day!”
~ Jessica Roche (Aligning Wholeness)

 

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“Me and my best buddy, Magilla Gorilla (the shirt was abandoned by a neighbor in the laundry room.) I’ve had him for years. He helps me relax, and I also have a problem with my shoulder which feels better with the support he gives me.”
Ike Rosen

 

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“I used to sleep with my turtle pillow pet, but I couldn’t bring him with me when I moved around the world. I couldn’t handle not having him though, so I bought a cloud shaped cushion from IKEA and sleep with him now! He’s called Nimbus. It is a comfort thing, I do like to have contact with something to help sleep and my boyfriend gets too warm hahah. I also have problems with my shoulder so he props me up when I’m lying on my side!”
~ Laura Frances (Laura Reflected)

 

More comments from other people:

“I have a blankie not a stuffed animal I sleep with. I honestly love it like a person. It’s one of those fleece tie blankets and I rub the knots as a comfort/anxiety reducing habit. Anytime I’m experiencing pain it may not help relieve it but there’s a comfort in knowing it’s there.”
~ Jessica Horvath

“I always slept with a teddy in my late teens. I stopped when I got married at 18, but even now if my husband is away I will quite often sleep with a soft toy. When my kids stay away, I’ll often bring one of their soft toys to bed to snuggle because I miss them.”
~ Kat Jayne (The Art of Broken)

 

Do you still sleep with a stuffed animal or teddy bear? I’d love to hear about it in the comments below!

Blogger Recognition Award

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I would love to thank Jaynie Lea from Rock Your World for nominating me for this award. I can’t tell you how excited I am about this as it’s my first blogging award and my blog is only nine months old! *does happy dance*
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There are a few very simple rules to follow when accepting this reward –
1.  I must thank the Blogger who nominated me and provide a link to their blog.
2. I must write a post to show the award.
3. I must write a brief story on how my blog started.
4. I must to give two pieces of advice to new bloggers.
5. I must select 15 bloggers to pass this award on to.
6. I must comment on each of their blogs to let them know they have been nominated for this award and provide a link to this post.

How My Blog Started

My blog started when a friend of mine mentioned that they were starting a blog and I thought ‘well that’s a really good idea’ and within and hour, without thinking too much about it, I had set up my blog. It was a week before I set it to public because I wanted to have a few posts written up first so people had something to read when they clicked on it.

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I chose to write about mental health because it is a subject that is important to me as I have been dealing with mental illness for over half my life. I use the phrase “breaking down the stigma of mental illness one story at a time” to describe my blog because that’s exactly what I’m trying to do. By sharing my stories and the stories of others, I’m hoping that mental illness will become less taboo and people will start to feel more comfortable talking about their struggles and asking for help when they need it.

Advice for New Bloggers

Just do it – Play around with your blog, have fun, try new things. By experimenting you learn what works and what doesn’t. Check out other blogs to see how they do things. Each blog is so unique. Find a writing style that you like and that flows.
Reach out to other bloggers – read their posts, interact – like and comment. By doing this you get to know other bloggers and they get to know you. It gets you’re name out there so people become interested in your blog and pop over to have a look. And you might just make a new friend along the way.

My 15 Nominees Are…  *drum roll*

I have selected 15 other excellent mental health blogs by 15 beautiful people who are all brave enough to tell their amazing stories. Some of these blogs I’ve been following for a while now and some I’ve just discovered. All these people tell their own story in their own unique way, showing that even though we may have the same diagnosis, we all experience it differently. I love reading all their stories and I hope you do as well.
  1. Hello Sarah Lou 
  2. The Art of Broken 
  3. Betty’s Battleground 
  4. Slay Girl Society 
  5. Mom of 3 is Nuts 
  6. Diva With Depression 
  7. August Was Here
  8. Essentially Broken 
  9. Inside My Head 
  10. Be Kind to Your Mind 
  11. The Sadness Monster 
  12. Milly’s Guide 
  13. Braver Than Before 
  14. Two Angels and a Black Dog 
  15. The Meltdown Guide 

4 Self-Care Tips for Difficult Mental Health Days

Below is a guest post I wrote for the wonderful Niki over at The Richness of a Simple Life.

Here are some bonus tips just for you. Between all these things hopefully you’ll be able to find something that works for you on those not so good days.

Distract Yourself

Sometimes you can get so caught up in your own thoughts circling in your head it’s hard to break out. Distraction can be really beneficial at times like these. Put your mind somewhere else. Play some mind numbing games on your phone, iPad or computer (Candy Crush anyone?) or put on some trashy show on Netflix that you don’t have to think about too much. Give your brain a rest take some time to chill out.

Exercise

Exercise releases those feel good endorphins. I totally understand that motivation can be lacking when depression is kicking you in the butt. You don’t have to do anything too strenuous or go to the gym (unless you want to). Try a short walk around the block. Getting out in the sunshine really can help. If you’re still lacking in motivation try walking to the corner shop to buy yourself a chocolate bar as a tasty reward.

Make Like a Cat and Nap

Depression and anxiety, any mental health issue really, can really mess with your sleep pattern. You can sleep too much or too little. Sometimes a good nap can really make a difference. Make yourself warm and comfortable and let yourself drift off. Let your body rest. My only advice here is that you don’t sleep for too long during the day, just an hour will help. Try not to sleep all day or you will find yourself wide awake at night and feeling even more tired the next day.

Mindfulness

Be in the moment. Feel things. Close your eyes. What do you hear? Birds chirping out your window, cars driving past, wind in the trees. Focus on the sounds around you. Feel your body. Feel where your feet touch the floor, your back resting against the chair or bed, notice the little sensations. As silly as it sounds don’t forget to breathe. Try square breathing. Breathe in to the count of four, hold for four, breathe out for four, hold for four, repeat. Feel the breath as is comes in and out of your nose. Don’t worry if you get distracted, it happens, just bring your attention back to the breath. Just five minutes being mindful can really help refocus your thoughts and bring you back to the moment.

Now over to the main post with the rest of my self-care tips….

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The Richness of a Simple Life

This post was written by Ali over at The Nut Factory. Thank you, Ali, for sharing your experience with us.

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Dealing with mental illness can be tough. You have your good days where you’re happy, confident, and full of life and your bad days where you just want to hide under the blankets and make the world disappear. On the bad days sometimes you’ve just got to do what you’ve got to do to get through the day. Remember that tomorrow is another day and as hard as it feels at times, know that you will get through this. Here are four tips for those not so good days.

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