How to get yourself out of a funk

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Saturday was a bad day for me. While we rarely fight, Derek and I had an argument first thing in the morning. Even though we resolved the insignificant conflict, I remained in a funk for the rest of the day. I’m not at all blaming my husband for this. It was a gloomy rainy day – I could blame the rain! But that wouldn’t be accurate either. It seemed to be everything and nothing that caused my mood to majorly drop. The entire day was a struggle. Sunday was better. Much better.  Here’s what seemed to help me our of a temporary major funk, I’m hoping it can help if you or a loved one find yourself in such a state:

  1. Journal. Writing out your thoughts and feelings can do wonders. It’s like a free therapy session! Also, as a social worker, I understand the importance of being able to identify when significant mood changes first began. Often, clients comes to their first appointment with no timeframe of when they started to go downhill. Writing in a journal can help you to process and cope as well as have a record should you need professional support.
  2. Exercise. For me, this was a walk in the pouring rain with my dog. I walked fast. I enjoyed seeing how much my dog was loving walking (despite the rain). I noticed ducks on the river not at all phased by rain. I may have felt gloomy on the inside but it was encouraging to see animals enjoying the rain. And the change of scenery + exercise was good for my mood as well.
  3. Read. I picked up a book that I had hoped to finish before baby arrived (and I didn’t!) and read a few pages. It was helpful to “escape” in a good book. To put aside feeling glum for several minutes.
  4. Get a break. For all of the above to happen, I needed a break from caretaking. My husband and I traded off caretaking for our daughter though out the day. I haven’t left her for more than 1 hour but if the funk continued into the next day, I may have had to get in the car and go somewhere for a couple of hours to see if that helped.
  5. Sleep. During my funk, I wanted to go and hide under the covers but I refused to go there. Sleep is necessary for survival but can work against us if we use it to escape. My advice would be to anyone in a funk to try and use sleep to recharge your batteries and not to as a way of hiding from the world. Also, remember that tomorrow’s a new day. Even if you don’t sleep great, things often seem better the next morning.

The above list if fairly biased re: what has been helpful for ME when experiencing low mood or being in a funk. I’d love to hear what you’d add to this list. Remember that just because you’re in a significant funk today doesn’t mean that it will be just as bad tomorrow. It could be MUCH better. Take good care of yourself. And if the funk lasts for 6 weeks or you experience any thoughts of suicide (no matter how fleeting), seek professional help. Funks can come and go. They can be very short lived. Or they can last awhile and turn into clinical depression. Taking good care of yourself as soon as you notice mood changes can sometimes turn what could have been ugly into a short lived episode. In your experience, what’s been helpful for you?

Did Robin Williams have Bipolar?

Robin Williams is admired for his acting as well as his ability to be candid about addiction, depression and personal struggles. Over his lifetime, he was an inspiration to many. Shortly after taking his life, speculation began re: whether Robin Williams had bi-polar disorder or not.

Psychcentral gave the following statement:

Robin Williams has long been a sufferer of bipolar disorder, a mental illness where the person fluctuates between episodes of extreme energy, focus and productivity (mania) and severe depression. Apparently, he was in one of the episodes of depression when he took his own life.

In contrast to the statement given by Psychcentral, there are others who state that Robin Williams did not have bipolar. Apparently, even Robin Williams himself.The following is from an interview with Carrie Fisher on Robin Williams by the Hollywood Reporter.

In an interview with Carrie Fisher, the following was shared about her encounter with Robin Williams: “He … looked lost, kind of, and he said that he didn’t think he was bipolar. He took the test that I gave the audience and got all the answers right, but didn’t think [being bipolar] was something that had anything to do with him,” recalled Fisher, who has been candid about her own struggles with mental illness and addiction.  (more here)

Regardless of whether Robin Williams had bipolar or not, he was outspoken about his struggles with addiction and depression. And the following reality still remains: for as far as we have come in recent years regarding mental health  and addiction treatments and anti-stigma initiatives, we still have a ways to go.

Robin Williams: I am so very sorry for your suffering. Your passing has broken the hearts of many. Bangarang, Peter!

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Blessings from schizophrenia? Believe me, they exist

This woman’s account re: growing up with a mother who has schizophrenia is one of the most moving and encouraging pieces I have come across in a long time.  Really worth the time to read:

Blessings from schizophrenia? Believe me, they exist

 

 

How to help someone with mental illness

People often wonder what they can do to help a loved one with a mental illness. Rest assured, there are things that you can do. The following are 5 ways to help. If you have something to add to this list please do!

5 ways that you can help someone with mental illness: 

1.  Just as someone with a heart condition needs to utilize medical assistance to stay well, so does the person with mental illness.  You can help by assisting the person in finding appropriate supports and you can help to validate the need for this. Most often, this help comes in the form of counseling and/or seeing a doctor.

2. If the person is hospitalized, visit them! Unfortunately those hospitalized for mental illness tend to receive less visitors and flowers than those hospitalized for other medical conditions. Visit as often as you are able and bring flowers or a special gift for them.

3. Seek to learn as much as you can about your loved ones illness. The internet is not always a reliable database. Ask those who work in mental health what resources they would recommend. See if your loved one will let you come to an appointment with their doctor or counselor so that you can learn more.

4. Let the person know that you are a safe person to talk to. End stigma by letting them know that they can be honest with you re: dark thoughts. Taking this a step further, also remind them of their local crisis number (24/7 service) plus the option of going to the ER if ever needed to keep safe.

5. Tell your loved one of what you look forward to in the future together. Most tend to feel discouraged after receiving a diagnosis of mental illness. Encourage them that their diagnosis doesn’t make up the whole of who they are. Remind them of:  who they still are  (positive aspects of their life and personality) and the exciting possibilities that still lay ahead.

Do you have anything else you’d add to this list? If so, please leave a comment below. Thank you for thinking about how you can better support your loved one with mental illness.

For further reading, click here: HOW TO HELP A LOVED ONE WITH MENTAL ILLNESS