Yesterday, as I drove home from seeing a friend, I realised I felt low. To break it down , I was agitated, unsettled and fed up. I could feel my body trembling slightly and pictured a cave adorned with fleecy blankets and pillows that I could go and hibernate in until I felt ready to join the human race again.
Unfortunately no such cave exists and more importantly I wanted to find out why I was feeling this way. I had already identified the feelings themselves which is helpful but the reason was to be rather more difficult. There are several things for me to consider when becoming a detective about my moods. One is my age and the possibility of my hormones creating merry hell at this time of life. Another is the antidepressants balancing out after the horrendous withdrawal last year and the last but not least is the after effects of a rather unsettling weekend.
Once you have experienced ill mental health you may be fearful of it happening again. You may become the Sherlock Holmes of your happiness, investigating every mood fluctuation and physical symptom that seems alien or unpleasant and convince yourself you are only moments away from sliding into the abyss of depression or hysteria of anxiety.
If you have ever had Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT) you will know that here we are encouraged to don the deerstalker hat and become a thought detective, noting thoughts and feelings and learning which to act upon and which ones to let pass us by.
Once you are aware of your mind's chatter you are then in a position to do something about it. You are able to recognise and do something about unhelpful thinking patterns such as 'Catastrophising' - when we blow things totally out of proportion or 'overgeneralising' - when we take one event in the past or present, and impose it on all current or future situations. If we say “You always…” or “Everyone…”, or “I never…”
I was left wondering if awareness was a good or a bad thing?
Well I would say it is a good thing as long as you know what to do with it.
If you are using the awareness of every little ache or pain to conclude that you are dying of some tropical disease then it isn't such a good thing. The same with if,like me yesterday, you saw a few hours low mood as an imminent slide into the bleakness of depression, it's really not so beneficial.
However if you note your low mood and have a wee peek around to see if there could be any rational cause of it e.g hunger, stress etc and do something about it that lifts your mood that is great. If the cause is something you can't change you can still make choices that help to elevate our mood e.g. gentle exercise, getting outside, having a snooze or meeting friend.
Remember to keep your awareness as a healthy option not something that creates more unease and fear.
Getting back to my low mood of yesterday, well it's still here. It lifts during moments of laughter and fun but it's still hanging around.
Am I worried? No. I know depression well and this is not it. This is a time of adjustment and my body is taking the brunt of it. Self-care and gentleness are needed so that is what I shall give myself with the understanding that should the mood not lift I will reach out for help.
Much love to you all