Care in Tough Times…

To be frank, my life has been rather awful the past six weeks.  My grandmother, to whom I am very close, was diagnosed with E. Coli poisoning, had kidney failure and nearly died.  My father was diagnosed with cancer, and is starting treatment.  Combine this with the fact that I am a teacher whose students need a lot of extra help this year, and the regular ups and downs of a long-term relationship, the past six weeks have left me sad, anxious and worried about what’s to come.

For someone like me who already struggles with chronic depression and anxiety, circumstances like these can easily trigger an episode of sadness or severe anxiety.  Self-care, and care from friends and family during this time are absolutely imperative.  The truth is that difficult times can be navigated with a little bit of extra help, without falling into a well of sadness.

Self-care tips:

  • Take good physical care of yourself.  Any crisis is easier with enough sleep.  Exercise, get outside, eat well, and don’t overdose on caffeine or alcohol.  Avoid drug use.  Keep meds regular—avoid adding new medication or getting off of medication during stressful time.
  • Talk about it.  Keep talk therapy appointments, and ask a few friends or family members who you know you can trust to support you.  Remember, no matter what’s going on, you’re not alone—ask for help.
  • Know thyself.  If you feel yourself getting anxious, sad or depressed, take action before it gets to a point of danger.  Call your therapist, psychiatrist, closest friend or all three.
  • Get into a routine.  Get up for work, meet up with friends, include time alone.  Staying on a regular schedule, complete with things to look forward to, will help the craziness of life seem much more manageable.
  • Take the long view.  This too shall pass, and no matter how terrible the circumstances, it’s not worth harming yourself.

Tips for caring for a friend or family member:

  • ASK.  Don’t avoid talking about what’s going on.  Ask good questions, and above all, LISTEN to the answers.
  • Show up.  Try not to cancel plans unless it’s an emergency, and don’t be afraid to just be there.  Hang out, invite them out and try to be available as much as possible.
  • Be aware.  If you notice your friend or family member showing telltale signs of concern, such as isolating, giving away valuable possessions, a new calm after weeks of crying or anxiousness, than be aware that they may be preparing to harm themselves.  Don’t be afraid to ask for help in supporting them.

No matter how tough the circumstances, things will be okay.  Take care of yourself, and remember to take care of those you know who may be struggling the best you can.

Posted by Amy on October 15th, 2009
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