Managing mood swings in depression
There will always be ups and downs...
As many of you who have ever suffered with depression will know, even with medication there are good days and bad days. The question at this point is how to deal with the 'bad days'. I have been diagnosed for over a year now, and I am still learning techniques to manage, however it does get easier.
Find a New Hobby
Sounds a bit ridiculous, but sometimes finding a new hobby, or just rediscovering an old one, can help lift your mood. I have started doing crosswords again, and I have started drawing up plans to build my daughter a doll's house from scratch. I also love being out in the fresh air, and have rediscovered the joy of going walking in our local country park with my daughter. I have noticed a distinct improvement in my mood with this, and it distracts me when I start to feel low.
I have also started to write short fiction, taking a course in this subject. My writer's diary helps me to note down various things around me that I would like to write about, but also lets me vent my feelings sometimes, and these feelings can even be used in some of the short stories. Personal experience is a big factor in writing in most cases, and can be a great outlet for sadness, disappointment, anger and all of the other emotions that go with depression.
This can sometimes be easier said than done, but I have recently been through Cognitive Behavioural Therapy counselling, and I must admit the training has helped me no end. My counsellor, Mark, was a great guide along with the materials (produced by the Centre for Clinical Intervention). The worksheets allowed me to explore my negative feelings and thoughts, and challenge them constructively. In this way, I have been able to find the root causes of my negativity, and how to fight my way out of it. It also means that I can identify when I am in a negative mindset, and change it before I get too low.
The materials at the link above can help you to see what your negative thoughts are, and when they occur. I had a number of thoughts, including being useless, ugly, unlovable, and the list goes on. But with training, I have been able to identify these and ask myself why I think this way, and what evidence there is for it. In most cases, there has been no true proof that I am in fact useless, ugly or unlovable, and I am starting to feel more positive about my own abilities.
Finding a 'Happy Thought', and using it!
Everyone has positive memories, those that evoke strong feelings of happiness and positivity. It can be difficult to remember anything good has ever happened to you when you are in a slump, but it is essential to use these thoughts to keep you on track to recovery. I have some great memories of my family and friends, and proud moments in my life, that I had all but excluded from my mind when I was diagnosed. But bringing those back to life can boost your mood, and help get you through a bad spell.
My own memory is of playing on the beach in Tenerife when I was young, with my dad. When he passed away in 1996 with cancer, I thought I had to be strong for everyone else, and felt that I was to blame. It took until last year to admit I felt responsible for his death, even though there was nothing I could have done. Having realised my guilt was completely irrational, I have started to remember the good times we spent together, and it has helped heal a lot of pain. I can't say it has been easy; it has probably been one of the most difficult things I have had to do, but the weight I have had lifted from my shoulders has been amazing.
Remember, everyone has ups and downs
It's important to remember this, as most people suffering from depression think they are the only one. But you are never alone. There are support groups whether on-line or face to face, and it is important that you use their facilities. I do, frequently, and it helps to be able to vent your feelings at someone who won't look bored, or seem fed up of hearing the same old rants.
Good luck, and believe that it does get better!!!
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