Brain Hacks – 7 Tools I Use to Cope with Depression, Anxiety, and PTSD
Anxiety, depression, and PTSD are more common than you might think. There is no magic wand and doing things that make you feel better are short-lived.
I’m lucky enough to have pretty good improvement from my meds when I’m not struggling to get them. The rest is just me, fucking with my own head and a couple of good friends who struggle with the same shit on different levels…which brings me to my first tool…
1. Other Humans
This is first on the list and often one of the most difficult because we tend to isolate when we’re at our worst and sometimes other people are just shitty. Now don’t get me wrong, sometimes we need to shut down and isolate for a bit, I require it to function! I’ve gotten better at learning to reach out when I need to though, whether to someone I know or a group of sorts for people in similar circumstances.
Last year about this time I had to call my neighbor to come hold my hand to get cat food when I couldn’t make myself even open the door to just stand on the stoop. Another good friend picked me up, cooked me dinner, and ran me a hot bath. Just a few weeks ago another helped me full out my forms at the doctor’s because I couldn’t see through the tears. They didn’t try to fix me, just loved me.
Despite the love, there will always be times when we need to seek professional help. Call 211 in the US and they can help you find any service you need in your area. If you’re feeling suicidal or just need help with external circumstances, this is the number to remember.
2. Fur Babies, Plant Babies, and Tiny Hairless Apes
My kids have mostly kept me from going too far into my bullshit, even though caring for the needs of your rugrats tends to highlight your inadequacies, but fur friends and plant friends trigger a different part of your brain. I can’t tell you what happens in my brain when my cat purrs really loud or one of my plants shows signs of not dying!
This is a big one for me. Anyone who struggles with mental illness knows that our struggles affect our circumstances, our financial stability, and our relationships.
At least a couple times a year I’ll break out my notebook and try to work out things that I want and need, then write out steps to obtain them. I write down the things that are bothering me to help work out the things I can control and give some kind of purge and perspective to the things I can’t.
I’ve recently started doing bullet journaling and I’m in heaven lol.
4. Try to Put a Dent in that Depression Mess
Our inner chaos loves to spill out into our surroundings which, in turn, makes us feel even shittier, it’s overwhelming!
The biggest thing that helps me in this arena is the 5 minute pickup. You tell yourself that you’re only going to do 5 minutes in an area then go back to bed. It usually ends up being more than 5 minutes and gives you a little boost.
I do this when I go to the bathroom. I figure I’m already up so I can do 1 dish, throw 1 thing in the trash, or put 1 thing where it belongs. I’ve always struggled with the depression mess so this has been incredibly helpful!
5. Let it Out!
Often my depression (especially when medicated) comes through as a kind of numbness so when the awful hits, it hits hard. I’ve learned how cleansing it can be to just lose my shit once in awhile, despite the inevitable 2 day crying hangover. We need to lose it sometimes, just don’t stay there!
6. Cut a Mofo Out!
Man, the best thing I’ve ever learned is to remove people who tend to make me feel worse. I don’t wish anything bad on them, I just don’t need them occupying all that brain space I can better fill with supportive people.
I have also learned that my mental and physical health is more important than my job so I’ve done some pretty uncomfortable trimming in that area over the years as well.
7. Be Nice to Yourself
How we talk to ourselves is incredibly powerful. It takes a lot of time, consistency, and creativity, as well as regular maintenance to change that internal dialogue, but our brains are as cool as they are troublesome so as ridiculous as it feels in the beginning to tell yourself good things, it creates new pathways in our brains and becomes a wonderful habit.
There isn’t any one thing that helps everybody but I hope that there’s something here that might help even one person. I would love to hear what’s in your toolbox!