Self Help Measures

I have written before that I suffer with periodic depression, but that I am well and happy at the moment. The difficult thing is knowing how long this ‘high’ is going to last before entering another ‘low’ period, but that plays on your mind. So I am making the most of my high, by taking as many steps as I can to potentially prolong this good feeling. It is frustrating that I would probably be unable to take any of these measures when I was feeling depressed, just when I need them most, so I am taking these steps now :

  • Dr Michael Moseley suggested that it is good for your mental health to walk for at least half an hour, within the first two hours of waking up. I have done that everyday since February this year. I have witnessed, and photographed, the most stunning sunrises on my walks. During April I am taking part in a fundraiser for Cancer Research by being sponsored to walk 60 miles with my dogs. So far we have walked 113 miles – I am now aiming to beat double the original target- and I have raised almost £700. That has been a brilliant effort and I am so grateful to my generous sponsors. However, next weekend, when April is over, I will still keep up my early walks as they seem to be good for my mental and physical health – if I can just manage to stay upright on my walks! – an dthe dogs are enjoying them too, even though sometimes I set off too early for them.
  • Last week I took up wild swimming on our local beach, taking two swims with our local group of Mermaids. I am very excited about this new hobby and I have also read that swimming in cold water is also good for my mental and physical health. I researched it before joining them, reading about it and even going down to the beach to observe a sunrise swim and ask lots of questions, so I have not gone into it blind and I have bought the necessary equipment, my new gloves arrived yesterday in the post. I am particularly looking forward to their Summer Solstice swim, which should be special : The group celebrated the summer solstice last year and some stayed on the beach all night, but others came down at 4am, to enjoy the sunrise together. So that combines the dual benefits of sunlight and cold water swimming.
  • I am catching up with old friends as part of my self-help therapy : this week I had a lovely day out with a school friend and tomorrow I am meeting a friend, who was a colleague until she left several years ago, for brunch, once I have dropped Joshua off at daycare. I have invited myself to visit a friend, who has been having a difficult time at home for the last few months, on one of her Thursdays off work, when I will be able to offer her both a hug and homemade baking. There are friends who are not local who I have promised to visit this summer – trips to Manchester and Scotland being on the cards!
  • I have taken up my old hobbies of letter-writing and baking again. When I am down, I cannot find the motivation to do either, but at the moment I am loving both. I bake most days : yesterday we met up with my sister in law and her family, and I made cheese straws for her husband and fruit scones for her and her children. We met for a pub lunch , so they did not need to eat my baking there and then, but the plan was that it was a treat for them to enjoy once they got home. On my morning walk yesterday, I delivered some shortbread to a lady from school who I know is a fan. She was instrumental in helping us to get Joshua to daycare and it has worked out so well at Play, that I will always be grateful to her so this was a way of showing my appreciation. I enjoy writing, sending and receiving hand-written letters. Somehow they are more personal than an email; they show someone that you were thinking about them and that you took time out of your day to sit down and write then post your letter, and that is special. Writing this blog is cathartic and therapeutic for me too, but it is another thing that I cannot face when the storm clouds arrive.

So these are the measures that I am taking at the moment. Who knows if they will fend off my depression, but it does not really matter as I am enjoying them now anyway. I am not expecting them to permanently eradicate my mental health issues – although how amazing would that be if they could? – but I like to think that they could prolong the high and fend off the low for a bit longer. If they can help to give me just an extra few weeks of feeling good, then I will settle for that.

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