Feeling let down by things isn’t fun for anyone. But when you’re bipolar or if you suffer from PTSD or depression, and your lows can get low, feeling let down can be a dangerous thing.
When I’m let down by something, it usually jolts me. Rips me out of the place I’m in. Or it adds to a list of things that feel like they’re piling up. Like if one more thing happens, I’ll tip over.
When a low hits, I have to slow down. Only do the bare minimum. Take life in five-minute increments. Think: What do I have to do for the next five minutes? and get through that. Then the next five. Maybe I’ll go 10 without getting too distracted by my depression. If I’m lucky.
But I’m learning to manage my depression. My discomfort. To take care of myself. And to know that the low I’m feeling will pass.
I can sit with my depression now because I know things could be much worse. I realize that the problems in my life are, for the most part, fortunate problems to have. I’m no longer living in fear. I’m no longer in a fight-or-flight state.
Making me see how much I’ve already accomplished. How much I’ve overcome. How much I was able to take care of myself. So that when a low hits, I’m strong enough to withstand the blow.
I know now that I have it in me to feel the low. To sit with it. But not to let it take the rest of myself with it. To ride the low until it ends and then to get up and try to enjoy my life again.
If you suffer from lows, here are a few things you can do to help manage them:
- Rest. I sleep a lot when I’m experiencing a low, and I let myself rest often. Not doing so leads to burnout, and then I’m no good to anyone.
- Take breaks. When a low hits me on a work day, I know I have to take longer breaks in between tasks. I have to make sure I don’t push myself or I’ll burnout.
- Use a weighted blanket. It’ll help reset your nervous system. And you get to lie down while doing it.
- Move. When I’m experiencing a low, the last thing I want to do is move, but once I do, I feel better. Whether it’s doing household chores, walking, stretching or practicing free at-home yoga, try to get movement into your day every day.
- Eat healthy foods. In a low state, I usually want junk food, but I try to eat healthy because I know it’ll make me feel better. So even if I snack, I try to have things like fruit, hummus and popcorn. But I do let myself indulge. I just try not to overindulge. Though sometimes, I do, but I let that be okay too.
- Meditate. I meditate every morning. Even if it’s only five minutes, it helps me connect back to myself. Start simple. Close your eyes and focus on getting your breath all the way from the top of your head on an inhale to the tips of your toes on an exhale. Focus only on the breath. Set a timer so you’re not worried about taking too much time. And breathe. (If you struggle with racing thoughts, you can think of the word “let” on your inhale and “go” on your exhale.)
- Journal. Journaling is a way to hear yourself. Journal in any form. Write, make lists, plan your day, draw, color, use stickers. Make it a safe, happy place for you to vent and to share and to connect to yourself.
- Connect to yourself through self-care. Meditating and journaling are two examples of self-care, but there are so many things you can do. Take a self-care inventory and find ways to connect to yourself, especially when you’ve hit a low.
- Be kind to yourself. Say nice things to yourself. Avoid anything that makes you feel bad about yourself. Nurture yourself. Remember to heal yourself.
I wish you safe lows. They may be arduous, but you will make it through. You always do.
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