Waiting for today...: Stress, Mental Illness & Self-Care, Part 2

"In plain English, stress early in life makes us more vulnerable to stress la...

"In plain English, stress early in life makes us more vulnerable to stress later in life. The evidence for this can be seen in multiple physiological an... - Nyawela Gianna - Google+

Friday, December 26

Stress, Mental Illness & Self-Care, Part 2



con’t from: … Part 1
              
      
                            Goal Chart: Acute                                  Goal Chart: Post-Acute
      for use during an acute depressive episode       for use immediately after an acute episode

As mentioned above goal-setting is a very important activity of self-care.  Depression often leaves its victims in a dense fog, unable to see but so far in any direction. Hopelessness is then not far behind.  Mix with the negative thinking and all the past triumphs and successes that would normally propel me forward are replaced with things like “I can’t do anything right”, “I’m an idiot” or “I hate myself”.
These charts not only remind me of some things that I can do to relieve my symptoms during an acute depressive episode, but it also reminds me of what I have already done; what I have accomplished.  Being able to see even the smallest of accomplishments, injects a bit of positive into the dark cloud of depression to help neutralize the negative.   During those dark times, I am sure to hang this tool where I am forced to see it every day.
An added dose of positivity is the scriptures that I’ve included.  My faith eventually buckles under the pressure of depression.  The scriptures help to remind me that while I may not be able to feel God’s presence, He is always near and there is always hope.

Activity Chart
  for use during periods of normalcy

This is my favorite chart but not one I can use when I'm depressed.   Actually, I give myself no less than a month after an acute episode before putting it into use.  This chart not only lists those things that need my attention on a daily basis, as on the goal chart, but it also lists my many interests.  But, if at any time I begin feeling overwhelmed during a period of normalcy, I will revert back to the post-acute goal chart until I have stability.
If I am to be honest, I fall victim to tunnel vision and pretty often.  Because of this it would be easy to forsake those things in which I love to do and instead pour all of my attention into only accomplishing those things that are needful.  This chart allows me to balance my days and weeks to allow for both work and play.
And I do have many interests.  I did not realize this until I made the chart!  And perhaps it is because I've spent most of my life trying to be someone else, neglecting those things that mattered most to me.  Whatever the reason, that same tunnel vision sprinkled with a little obsession causes me to spend a nauseating amount of time on just one thing.   The spark soon fizzles and boredom sets in.  By tracking what I've done and planning what I would like to do, I can keep my playtime fresh and exciting.

To-Do List 
for use during periods of normalcy

While many will use the various electronic apps that are available to plan their days, I'm an old school gal.  A scrap of paper and a pen will do.  I've even tried to carry around those notebook style planners but most often I found them cumbersome and I disliked their page layouts.  Yes, just a scrap of paper will do... as long as the layout is similar to the above.
Seeing a list of twelve tasks and trying to prioritize each from 1 to 12 is a bit overwhelming.  I'm liable to toss it and in the end not get as much done as I would’ve liked to.   Things will then pile up and yada, yada, yada.  So I have to first break my daily tasks into small chunks then prioritize them.  This method not only makes that same list manageable but I also feel more motivated to complete it.
Those tasks that I "Have To Do" are thee most important and therefore are the priority. Those that I "Should Do" gets my attention when the previous tasks have been completed, after I've gotten some rest and there is time to spare.  I "Could Do" other tasks if by some miracle I've completed those that I have to and should do.  Yet if I decide to treat myself to a movie, go shopping or have lunch with a friend instead, I’ve made it okay to do just that.  I can do these the next day or even the day after and not feel guilty about the delay.   I use this tool during periods of normalcy.
To many this may seem like overkill, rigid even.   However, these charts keep me focused, balanced and collected.   I've opted to keep the comprehensive self-care log, goal chart and activity chart organized by month and archived in a binder.   When depression looms, I can look back at my accomplishments/progress and feel a little less worthless... hopeless... helpless.  This is one way I'm learning to live with and manage my depression.
With the exception of the Comprehensive Self-Care Log, I have shared these documents via Google Drive.  Please feel free to download them by visiting the links provided, click “file” in the top left-hand corner and choose download.  Edit them to the desired format to fit your needs.  Please note that the fonts appear altered in Drive.  However, once the document has been downloaded they should be in their original format.  You will find the Comprehensive Self-Care Log at Depressiontoolkit.org.