Little Things You Can Do When Mental Illness Has You Paralyzed

This is not the original post I had planned for today, but after experiencing a rather crippling depressive episode, I decided to write this instead. Because somewhere out there someone is tucked away in a dark room under their blankets, scared to open their eyes and face the demons awaiting them. Someone is afraid to die, but much more afraid to live. Someone needs to hear this and know they’re not alone. They need someone to tell them the baby steps to recovery because it’s hard to think for yourself when your mind is working against you.

This list is not going to cure depression. It’s not going to make panic attacks magically disappear. It will, however, offer some comfort because, really, it’s the little things that make the biggest difference.

Allow yourself to fully feel whatever emotions you’re experiencing without beating yourself up.

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Bury your face in a pillow and scream, yell curse words, cry. Do whatever you need to do to feel your feelings. It’s ok to feel. It’s ok to cry. It’s ok to heal.

If you can’t get out in public, sit on your porch and get some fresh air.

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Fresh air and sunlight can do wonders for the mind, body, and soul. Close your eyes and take a deep breath. Feel the warmth of the sun on your skin. If it’s nighttime, enjoy the crisp night air. Listen to the crickets singing. Just be still.

If you can’t make it outside, open the blinds or turn on a lamp.

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The dark can be a very lonely and intimidating place. Simply turning on a light can instantly offer some much needed comfort.

If you can’t make it out of bed, take some slow, deep breaths.

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As strange as it sounds, sometimes I forget to breathe. I hold my breath without even noticing because I’m so caught up in my thoughts. Slow down and take a few deep breaths. It’ll work wonders.

If you can’t bring yourself to shower, wipe your face with a warm washcloth.

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This always offers me some comfort. The warm cloth freshening up your face helps to bring you out of your head and into the moment. Plus, it feels really good.

If you can’t eat, at least have some water.

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Staying hydrated is super important, especially if you’ve been crying. Keep some water nearby and have a few sips throughout your day.

If you have someone trusted around, get a hug for at least 20 seconds. No words required. Just healing physical contact.

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It’s scientifically proven that physical contact can help to ease emotional pain. Hugs cause a release of oxytocin (the “love drug”) which calms the nervous system and encourages positive emotions. If you can, get your cuddle on.

If you don’t have someone around, wrap yourself in your favorite blanket.

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There are few things in this world as comforting as a blanket cocoon. It offers warmth and security that your mind isn’t equipped to offer you in the moment.

Know that this moment will pass and you won’t feel this way forever.

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Mental illness is quite a beast, I know. It’s a dragon I struggle to slay everyday, but it is possible to beat it. There are going to be days you can’t move. Days you’re too afraid to go out into the world. On those days, just do what you can. I know it’s not always possible to call a friend, eat a healthy meal, or go to the gym. It’s not always easy to engage in your favorite activity when you’re frozen in your bed. I understand. I’ve been there. And I’m here to tell you it’s ok to have a mental health day. It’s ok to take a step back and process what you’re feeling. But you can’t let this possess you forever. You are not your mental illness. When you’re feeling stronger, reach out. Get the help you need. You are a valuable life worth saving and you have the power to rise above your illness and be your own knight in shining armor.

I believe in you. I know you can make it through this and I’m here to help in any way that I can. You are loved, you are valued and you are worth more to the world than you could possibly imagine. You’ve got this.

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If you’re having suicidal thoughts PLEASE REACH OUT. Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. It’s free, confidential, and available 24/7. The world would not be nearly as beautiful without you. Please stay. Please call.

 1-800-273-8255

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