I wasn’t exactly sure if I was going to be writing this today, because I am having a day where I – in fact – am not doing okay.
It seems pretty weird to be preaching about something you yourself are not doing at the moment, but I guess it can give you perspective as well. I hate those “calling the kettle black” moments, or anything revolving around “do as I say, not as I do”. So I’m going to avoid doing that while also helping you while helping me. That good stuff!
I think one of the first things you need to do when you’re having a not-okay day, is just acknowledging that that’s what you’re going through, and that it’s okay.
It’s 100% normal to have days where you’re not feeling all there, or all that good.
For those who have the anxiety and / or depression backing that feeling, remember to acknowledge that too – Despite whatever is triggering it today (for example, on my side I got a small correction from my supervisor. It wasn’t a big deal, but as usual I got a mixture of destructive thoughts along the lines of “you suck” and “what’s even the point anymore”). I recognize these thoughts are not legit, today is just a hard day mentally. Which is okay.
What’s next? Practice some self-compassion.
If you need time alone to deal with things, give yourself some time alone. If you need to talk to someone, reach out to a supportive friend.
In my case, I prefer to be alone and give myself time to do things that make me feel a little better – Lighting a candle I like, eating some chips, taking a break from being on the computer. I generally like to try to handle my emotions on my own, because half the time well-meaning friends will say / do things that tend to worsen how I feel. It isn’t on purpose, I’m well aware, but in moments like these you need to focus on what’s best for yourself. If others can’t help you, you need to know how to help you.
Another thing to avoid is forcing yourself where unneeded; if you have a pile of dishes waiting for you, don’t stress yourself out trying to do them (unless doing them will make you feel better). Step back, recover, then do the thing.
It takes a lot of trial and error to plan around your mental health in times like these, so you really just need to be kind to yourself while discovering the rights and wrongs of how to help.
And in the worst case scenario? Cry.
No, seriously. I’d say a good 80% of the time I’m going through a phase like this, my emotions have bubbled under the pot lid a little too long. Rather than letting it boil over by resisting, just do it.
I tend to close the door to my room for complete solitude during these moments, so I’m not putting myself in a place where I’m overly vulnerable by the end of it. I’ll lay down in bed, make sure I’m comfortable, and I’ll cry.
Feeling sad, or overwhelmed, these are all legitimate feelings, and that’s why things like crying are actually super necessary.
Back in high school, when I was going through the worst of my abuse, I resisted because I didn’t want to appear weak. I didn’t get to cry until the pot was boiling over so badly the steam was practically exploding the lid off (not quite the analogy I wanted to use, but we’ll roll with it). And if you let the emotions explode, you don’t actually feel better by the end of it – The stress of being forced to let it out ends up replacing the relief of it actually getting out.
So, let yourself cry. Scream into your pillow. Lay down for a little and don’t force yourself. If your hair is bothering you, pull it out of your face (I literally just put my hair up in a bun because it was just not helping).
Give yourself room to breath, and remember that this will pass and you’re not alone in experiencing bad days.