So to kick off, I have been on my way to writing this next Sunday post for something like six weeks.
What got in the way?
I stopped taking anti-depressants for the first time in five years, I felt fine but was waiting for some crash.
I was a little concerned I’d write to you in a blaze of triumph and then be hiding under the covers hating myself.
I also had to think about how to write this post, so I went for a list of what worked for me.
Just to be clear this is what is working for me, and might not work for you.
I am not writing that line to be all sweet and inclusive, it’s the truth.
If you are eating shit, processed food, drinking fizzy drinks and watching TV, especially crap TV you will be having issues.
This list is what I stuck with after trying a lot of things.
AND of course, I am not a medical practitioner.
If you don’t feel right go and see your Doctor – it’s free! That is what I did to get here.
- Diet – This Is Simple.
Cut out everything processed, comes in a can, packet or has sugar or gluten or has a sell by date that is months ahead of today.
I live off of avocados and veggies.
Since I avoided bread, dairy and drugged up supermarket meat everything has changed.
Sharp as I am I went sobbing to my therapist Amélie, she is French, and we have been together five years.
I crashed at the end of 2012, and my Doctor sent me to six sessions of CBT which was like putting a band-aid on a shotgun wound.
Following the CBT we found Amélie at the Salvation Army in East London.
These first sessions saved my life, and it was like a ‘triage for Bernie’.
After I got over the drama and panic, I settled into discovering and addressing the anger and rage that’s haunted me all my life.
I am at the point where I feel 2017 is the first time I have been ‘me’ since I was a child.
I’m always for therapy, and it isn’t the first time I have been, however, this is the longest I have been with one person, and I have got my life back as result of the time I have put in.
- Stop Watching TV and Social Media
I consider watching TV and checking social media to be in the same place as these things.
Of course, I watch Netflix, where I get all this info on food from, and I LOVE watching superhero movies.
I’ll spare you the miles of statistics about mental health, anxiety and everything else I have researched.
The HUGE effort I made to cut out social media, films and TV started to dramatically improved my mental health.
If you have ever dealt with addiction to drugs, sex, alcohol, shopping, smoking or another type of addiction, it’s like that, and you should at least be aware this is the area you are playing in.
When I rant like this about TV I often get the response: ‘well it’s like anything, it’s okay in moderation, TV can be good for things’.
Checking our phones, social media and watching one more episode becomes a habit and then addictive.
Every person I have asked about how they track their moderation has no system in place.
The first time I used an app called Rescue Time I found out I spend five hours a day on Facebook.
So tracking helped me change that.
I now spend 15 minutes a day and don’t have a mental illness.
See what I mean?
Sleep early, no screens (ever) and get up early – get a dim light and read a book
As I read about well being and depression one of the most cited cases is how we approach our sleep.
I started going to bed early, avoiding screens of phones and any bright light. I am obsessed by ‘sleep hygiene.’
I think about what I am going to eat, avoid coffee from 2 p.m. and drink a big glass of water before bed.
Unless I am genuinely distressed, I sleep well and spend significant time decently rested.
A few people I genuinely love, and respect suggested I try meditation.
I didn’t know what meditation was.
Also, every time I looked for a meditation thing on YouTube it was some smug woman with a synthetic American voice.
Then I discovered Headspace and have clocked up over 250 hours of meditation just on the app.
Over the last five years, I have transformed my mental well being, focus and amazing anger with the world.
- Other People
The weekly “Deep Work” Meet Ups @WorkHubs, our coworking space in Euston have been a HUGE influence on me getting better.
We all make small incremental progress on our projects, learn new things and are finding ways to work with each other.
- Stop Fucking Whining
And do something – it’s OK to be stuck but put some effort into working out where you are.
The days I went out for a 2 minute walk even though all I wanted to do was watch the next episode of Person Of Interest on Netflix are the days I started to win.
- Blog About Depression
OK, maybe this one is for me and won’t work for you.
I blogged and shared with people like you about how tried sticking a steak knife in my wrist to kill myself, threw a whole phone booth across a bank when they wouldn’t listen and how deeply fucking sad and stuck I was.
What came back were people saying ‘me too’.
What shocked me were the people that said ‘if I share I’d be let go from my job’ or ‘I have too much to lose to share how I feel’.
There were other people who I thought were bigger, faster and stronger than me, but were also taking medication or endured some ongoing mental illness.
In less than a week I stopped feeling so alone and such a victim.
- Say No
I’d always say yes to please people, and I’d rather have pain and depression than any conflict. (More on that another day)
So I started to say no to everything.
Also, I said no to going to places that make me feel shit.
When I go to my hometown, I feel super depressed and often end up vomiting when I wake up.
So I just don’t go. It hurts some people I know, but I have to act like this to protect myself.
- Something I Still Need To Do
I walk everywhere, and this is good.
What I have never got back into is running or another form of exercise.
Yesterday I was out with my son and bought a running magazine, and then we ran home from the station just to see what happened.
It was dark, raining and I was quickly out of breath – but I didn’t die.
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Also published on Medium.