Momma Bear’s Coping Strategies

You just slip out the back, Jack…Make a new plan, Stan…You don’t need to be coy, Roy

Just get yourself free

Hop on the bus, Gus…You don’t need to discuss much…Just drop off the key, Lee

And get yourself free.                               Song by Paul Simon

If you know and remember the lyrics to the above song… You will NOW have this tune in your head ALL DAY… ( You’re welcome! LOL)

Well then… I want to cover the topic of “coping strategies”… This is going to stretch my thinking because I have never really thought about this before… As I am just beginning to start writing for this blog… I am realizing…It is going to be a challenge for me to talk about a great many things because I am so used to going through my illness alone.

One thing I do know is that you need a PLAN… and that plan needs to be put into place BEFORE you get really sick…because when you are down and out for the count… due to whatever cycle you go through with your own mental illness… it’s too late by then to MAKE a plan… What I mean by this is… as far as depression goes… there are ups and downs… and then there are DOWNS… I am assuming that it is the same across the board for most… if not all mental disorders… 

The purpose of making a plan is so that things become easier… and remain SAFER for the one who is suffering… It’s similar to wearing a medical alert bracelet… It lets those you are close to become AWARE that you are ill and this is what you need from them…( without having to explain… over and over again )… In the past… I have not had a plan… but I wish I did… and today… I am in the process of making one.

A plan should be written in something that is easy to carry around… ( a notebook… a journal… )… there needs to be a copy of it that will be easy for you to turn to when things get really bad for you. You can even write and prepare a list of things you want people to know and have it photocopied and ready to give out when the time comes. If you are like me and work things out alone… the list is not necessary… but the plan still is.

In another blog post… I will talk about how to make a complete plan from beginning to end… For now… I want to move onto coping strategies.

Oh my goodness… this is a topic that is so important… especially because so often… I feel like life SWEEPS me away without warning… That seems to be how quickly an episode of severe depression washes over me… I never seem to see it coming until it is too late… and BANG… I am out for the count… and UNDER.

It is at these extra low times that coping strategies are most IMPORTANT… they are often our life-line to keeping our head above water.

I am going to name a few that work for me… and I would like to keep this list going so it can become a resource of ideas for others to use. 

Ok… so… here is my personal list..

Listening to instrumental music… especially soft jazz… I specifically listen to music without words because I can just listen to the music without paying attention… I usually lie down on the sofa with a comfy blanket and my dog.

Sometimes I even manage to fall asleep ( which is a very good thing ).  

  • Note… listening to heavy metal or rap music ( or any other music that is loud and filled with negative energy )  is NOT the therapy I am talking about here. This is why I specifically listed instrumental… Many of the lyrics in these different styles of music are filled with anger… swearing and severe violence. This is counter-productive to the goal of coping. 
  • Please don’t send me messages telling me BUT I like this kind of music… LOL… I’m sure you do or else you would not normally listen to it… however… this coping strategy is about relaxing and allowing your sick body to absorb healing… It’s not party time.. It’s relaxing time.

Laughing every day… as often as I can… This can be a very difficult task… especially when suffering with a severe bout of depression… so this is when that plan I talked about comes in very handy… Get a user friendly list of places you can visit on the internet that will give you a quick and instant dose of humour… this is no different than your favorite play-list of music… except… it is your play-list of laughs. I’m sure you have heard that laughter is like medicine… over the years of many very low times… I can testify that HUMOUR has been my “Saving Grace”. Whatever tickles your fancy… whatever makes you smile and laugh… do it… listen to it… watch it… play it again… By taking the time to do this… you will make your day that much easier. Even if you don’t FEEL like laughing… Just do it. 

Laughter can come from many places… your favorite cartoon… your favorite meme… your favorite comedian… your favorite silly song… your favorite joke… your favorite funny memory… It truly is an individual thing… It is proven that a good belly laugh releases the “happy” twins ( dopamine and serotonin )… These guys are our FRIENDS… Seriously… these are the guys you want hanging around… LOL

Sleeping… Sleep is my #1 friend when I am down low… and thankfully the medication I am on ( quetiapine fumarate ) gives me a good solid 10-12 hour break from suffering… Not everyone can afford this luxury but I tell you… un-interrupted periods of sleep are very important during the process of healing… It strengthens us… restores us… and allows us to get re-balanced. 

I strongly believe that emotional trauma and lack of sleep are key reasons that many who suffer with mental illness SELF MEDICATE… ( alcohol… drugs… shopping… pornography… gambling… etc… etc… ).

Avoiding Drama… I avoid drama at all costs when I am feeling well… but when I am sick… I absolutely lose patience with a great many things… ( I know this about myself )… so… I simply shut down on the NOISE level of life. For me… this means staying away from SOCIAL MEDIA… including the news… It saves me so much stress… This might not be the answer for everyone… but it certainly is for me… When I am at my lowest of lows… I simply shut down… on everything that is NOT important… or necessary. 

Our i-pads… i-phones… lap-tops… can be wonderful and most convenient… but they  can also be very time-consuming… emotionally consuming and energy draining… When we are sick… we are in need of preserving our energy and RE-CHARGING… just like our phones… Our minds need to rest.

I realize my list is not very long… but those are the things that work for me…

I would like to add that there is one VERY IMPORTANT thing that is NOT on my list.

Sadly… I have never learned to depend on ANYONE for anything and so I truly have suffered alone for most of my life… 

I am talking about having that ONE person or small group of persons… who you can be totally honest with about where you are AT… This person is someone who will instinctively know WHAT you need… they will respect you for where you are at… and will “in love” make small decisions for you during your dark times that will be for your good. Things such as coming over to check on you… even if you say NO… Ironically… you will notice that when these people do come over… they are NEVER a burden or bother… they never come in judgement… and they never come demanding something… They simply come to make sure you are ok… and have everything you need. 

If you are lucky enough to have one of these people… I encourage you to just LET them IN… They are PRECIOUS.  I say this because this year… I actually experienced this for the first time ever… between two people… I was checked on and ensured that I had everything I needed…It made a huge difference in the comfort of my life… and I am most grateful for both these people in my life… Also… it is important to THANK these “angels” in your life once you are feeling better.

Please let’s keep this list going… Share what coping strategies work for you. We want a pool of resources here for people to have. 

~Momma Bear

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