Here are some of the coping skills I found helpful along the way. This is not a list of all skills, but just the ones that meant something to me at the time of crisis and later along the journey. The list evolves along the way and some you drop off and some you take on board.
1: Mindfulness! Now I know you may cringe at the mention of it, I know I did when I first heard of it! I thought it was all hippy-Budary mumbo jumbo tosh. But at my 1st time of crisis I gave it a go. Basically you need to find a quiet place with no one around, phone on silent etc … I found a chair with arms on are great! wiggle into it and wiggle your feet into the floor and place your arms on the rests and flop as best you can. Now close your eyes and find a comfy place for your eyes to rest, mind was as if I was looking at the end of my nose! Take a few deep breaths and on the last exhale relax all your muscles. Now breath normally but while you do this try to visualize the air going in your nose, back of the throat, down your windpipe, and into your lungs. Now as you breath out, visualize the air going out of your lungs, up your windpipe, back of the throat and out your nose. It is really hard to do it in one go, so if you break it up into the stages mentioned you may find it easier! The idea is not to force your mind to do it, but to gently nudge it along until you get it. I find it hard to do it more than 10 minutes so I limit to about 8 minutes tops but normally 4-6 minutes are more powerful for me. This is all down to how your mind is at the time. There are many apps out there to try but I found one that was in tune with me and it is stop breathe & think. It’s on many platforms inc windows android and App Store. Give it a go! I use this on and off and is a great help when needed .
2: music! This is great for when your head is full of thoughts and external pressures and you can’t stop them and your getting more desperate. Just hook yourself up to a player of some sort with all your favourites and just play and sit or lay down and blast away. This is also great as you can take it where ever you go, it takes the edge off a meeting before and after. It can create memories or retrieve them, make several playlists for different moods. E.g. I have a metal one, all the hard stuff I love that others may not. My own little world! Then there is my list which was the songs my wife loaded for me when I was in the mental health unit. It now means a lot to me now I’m out, reminds me of where I was at my lowest and how far I have come now.
3: drawing. Sounds simple but when your head is full of rubbish it’s hard to concentrate On drawing. Try drawing on the stuff going round in your head! Once it on the page it can disappear from your mind and make space for new things. I drew small and put them in bubbles all over the page. Then use mindfulness with the images on the page and let them float off or pop them! You start controlling your mind and not let them control you!!
4: intensity continuum chart. You need an A4 landscape page, left to right have boxes from 1-5. This is the stages of your feelings. Top to bottom on the left before the 1 you need columns. In them you need feelings, physical sensation, thoughts, filters, action urges, behaviours. This breaks down your emotion or event you are experiencing. E.g. Your driving and at a roundabout it’s busy, your exit isn’t clear so you wait. The car behind beeps and goes to overtake. You think no way and pull out and you both block the roundabout,and are side by side. Anger on both side as you didn’t want to block the road and didn’t want the other driver to jump the que. you think you went from calm ( a 1 in the box) to rage/anger ( a 5 in the box) in a split second with nothing in between! It is not the case. There are many thoughts and feelings that happen in a very short space of time. Try breaking it down into steps, you will be surprised !!! Try using it next time someone upsets you.
5: find a local mental health group that’s not NHS. E.g. Rethink or Mind. I found one after 6 hours or searching on the net. One group in my town and you wouldn’t know it was there! As it’s a charity they are there for you and others for you to go and be you! No hiding, no pretending to be “normal” they can help on the spot or help you find the support you need, if it’s money issues, work, housing, family problems, or a shoulder to cry on. Its regular and not medication bias! I used this a few times but now feel I have to get away from mental health as I fear I will get sucked in and go down hill again.
6: mood diary, this is a great tool when your in a bad place. You can vent your frustration, stress and anger to your hearts content! No one can read it ( unless you want them too) you can rip it up and let it go, or keep it and read it when you feel better in yourself. This helps find a patten in how you spiral down out of control or finds out what is not helpful when you are not feeling well. Try to note triggers and feelings as well as helpful things and people along the way.
7: console games or dvds. Allow yourself to immerse yourself in your favourite games or dvds. Could be at the end of the day when others are asleep. feels good sometimes.
8: time for yourself! If things are getting to much just stop! Your health is more important than anything in the world! What’s the point of doing something that at the end of the day, in real terms, is pointless! It may seem important that the emails are sent and floors are clean, that the bosses table has two pens parallel to each other! Lol but if you are at the end of the line non of that is important! If you have to stop work because your not well then so be it, you need to look after yourself.
9: list of balance. Write down a list of things that are the most important to you. Then write them in the order of most important to you. Now put a number of 1-10 on how well you are dealing with each item listed. E.g. Most important to me is my wife, when I was working I thought I was near a 10. But I wAs working so much to provide for her and my son it was really a 3-4!!! After my breakdown I managed to improve that to a 6-7. Mainly due to not working and being there for her. This has changed my attitude to how I will work in the future, not getting so deeply involved at work and being more switched on at home. Also make a list of things that makes an impact on your original list and see if there is anything you can do to change it.
I will add to the list when I remember any more or if I come across some in the future.
Hope it helps