For those of us who live with depression, whether we can are on meds, off meds – the bottom line is that living with (sometimes unpredictable) emotional fluctuations can make it really hard to plan the future..or sometime just an hour from now even. Something that helps allot of people keep focus on balance in the day is also one of my family’s favourite – H.A.L.T. I’d like to share it in case its new to you and can help for next time the blues comes knockin’…
What it means seems obvious – when your mind starts twisting out and you feel your mood plummet…just STOP.
Stop everything if you can and check your basics. Are you hungry, angry lonely or tired? This focus can help you to regain balance and avert deep depression when you begin to feel out of whack. It’s also part of being emotionally responsible for yourself. Over time it becomes easier to remember.
can mean you need food. Let’s stick to basics. Admit it, when we are emotionally overwrought we re not often inclined to be putting our physical well-being at the top of the to do list. We are more likely thinking …and drowning in thinking. All of ours, and the world’s problems at once. Our thoughts have run away with a “mind of their own” (did I really just say that?) and we quickly lose body needs awareness. We forget to eat, or we eat crap. Carb;s usually – just for a moment of a little dopamine.
Seriously – Not having the proper minerals and vitamins when you are a clinically depressed person, can be life threatening. The food we intake directly affects the way in which our brain produces dopamine and serotonin. I don’t know how you can do that in your diet. I’m sure there are a million line resources. I believe that many doctors obviously need to be more multidimensional in their approach to patient knowledge. They need to be more like health partners and less like people that think they know more about your insides than you do. They have to really be thinking about the whole person and the situation.
So, that’s where you come in, Someone with depression has to be very responsible for this most basic requirement. When you feel that you are quickly spinning into the abyss, take a second, ok well maybe take 30 and check out what your body needs.
1- Drink water – in fact start your day with it. You wake dehydrated. I don’t know much about the brain but I can imagine that`s not a great start for it.
2- Lay off caffeine – stop wrecking the start of your day by giving yourself a hyper dose of anxiety. Drink tea – you`ll live
3- Refined sugar is bad. Period. It sparks mood swings, physical energy crashes etc… We are trying to avoid ANY crashes here.
4- Meat takes alot of energy for the body to consume. Plus it`s gross. I don’t eat it.
5- Eat whenever I`m hungry. Small amounts.
6- Indulge your food fantasies sometimes. What the hell. One life. But don`t do it when you`re sad. Again, sugar never helps depression.
Self explanatory. If you`re angry, stop, don`t RE-act (Def: Acting outwardly the angry you are feeling – creating a negative action twice).
Especially if you are in position to react to what someone else is saying to you it is always best to find some space and come back to it if you need to once you have checked your other indicators.
One of my grandmother`s favourite sayings was
“Don’t ever say something to someone you’ll have to apologize for. Especially if you don`t like them.”
LONELY: One of the hardest things to do in depression is reaching out to express yourself, but it is vitally important and healing.
There is an ocean’s difference between peaceful solitude and abject loneliness. In mid-depression (if there is such a place) often people feel and see only themselves, and not in the best light either. Surrounding yourself with friends who understand you and are empathetic to your experience is really important. It’s also part of what can be in your control. Making relationship choices is empowering.
Most basic for all of us but especially people with depression: you must sleep regularly and well. One of the symptoms of a prolonged depression is insomnia. At this point a person is really so disconnected form the body that they have messed up their circadian rhythms and can’t return to a normal routine of sleep. Thoughts race and we all know you cant run from yourself.
There is a reason why sleep deprivation has been used as a favoured technique for torture throughout our war torn histories. People make bad decisions when they are exhausted. For people with depression, exhaustion can lead to suicidal ideation difficult emotions like hopelessness and despair. No one wants to live like that on purpose.
Fake it till you make it doesn’t mean you’re lying or being fake…not really. But it helps to act as if you already feel good…to feel good this doesn’t mean lying but more like acting out positivity. When someone asks you how you are, don’t go into a forty minute diabtribe about your woes, try staring by saying something positive, or grateful. This can have a huge effect on the whole energy of the interaction.
You know how sometimes it feels as though just in a MOMENT you can fall into a depression,
Keep in mind that the same thing applies to the opposite …in a MOMENT you can fall out and back into contentedness. Say yes to things that feel good for example. Taking care of basics puts everyone in a better position to make the best daily choices on their own behalf and help create this outcome.