Somewhere in sunny North Carolina, the days are getting longer as summer approaches quickly on the horizon. I sit on my apartment balcony with my laptop in front of me. I think about how 4 years ago, I was incapable of seeing this kind of sunshine and basking in it, letting it warm my skin. I was in an extremely dark place, on the brink of graduating college, but so mentally unstable that I barely finished the semester and didn’t walk in my own graduation.
I am in a different place now. A more stable part of my recovery, where I do feel the sun on my skin, but still struggle to manage my mental health conditions. Stable is an arbitrary word. My depression and anxiety are more well-managed than they ever have been, but some days are long uphill battles, low, empty ditches, and frazzled unconfined chaos.
I still have a hard time accepting that depression will not magically leave me one day. That each day in recovery is a toss-up to either get to live the life I want or despair in the darkness.
My treatment journey has lasted nearly 10 years, and in those nearly 10 years, I have learned ways to help me get through the days when my mind imprisons me.
Sometimes they work. Sometimes they don’t. Regardless, these tools have supported my treatment and helped a bit on the days I can’t see or feel the sunshine. I hope they’ll help you too.
- Medication management apps: The app called Round is an amazing tool that has kept me on top of taking my medicine each day. You put in your meds and doses and adjust for the days you take them, and you can schedule reminders for each day.
The intuitive interface makes for an easy user experience, and the app even alerts you when your prescription may be running low. I love how this app is customizable to adjust your meds at any one time, as well as the day of the week and times to get reminders. It’s been extremely helpful to have it, and now taking my meds has been ingrained in my routine.
- Meditation or sound apps: Meditation has always been something that’s very difficult for me to do, but I do love having an app called Rain Rain, which features rain sounds. You can choose a variety of sounds, from rain on a window, to ocean waves, to even light snow! I love putting this on as white noise before I go to bed. The best part? You can set a fade-out timer, so it turns off once you go to sleep!
- Resources like the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI): This organization is a great resource to find a community of advocates and peer support. Not only does NAMI offer free programs like education classes, support groups, and events, but its website also features a variety of resources, from medication information to local resources.
The website was a great tool I’ve used throughout my recovery, and when I had the chance to work at my local NAMI affiliate for 2 years, it was one of the most fulfilling experiences of my life.
- Creating a crisis planning guide: During the years of my life when I was highly unstable and constantly in crisis, my therapist suggested that I create a crisis planning guide. This guide included how I feel when I am stable, my main symptoms when I’m not well, the medication I was taking, and what tools help in crisis moments.
It also includes a section for what I do to stay well daily and weekly. The guide became helpful to share with the close people in my life, so they could help me in the best way possible. It was also a good reminder to refer to when my irrational mind could not find solutions quickly.
It’s essential to have things in your recovery “toolbox” to help alleviate a little bit of the darkness that accompanies depression. I hope you find support tools that work best for you, because you deserve to care for yourself the way someone else would.
Photo Credit: Mint Images / Mint Images RF via Getty Images
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