At a recent mental health conference they were passing out bracelets that said “One day at a time”. I was feeling pretty good then so I slid it on and was like “what a good slogan/reminder. Everyone could benefit from that.” That was about a month ago and I’ve been wearing it ever since.
But my anxiety the past few weeks has been off the charts. As I’ve struggled to bring it back down, I’ve realized the bracelet was clearly designed by someone without a mental illness. During this bad spell, when I get out of bed—or really drag myself out after about 45 minutes of pep talking and failed attempts—the thought of facing the entire day is completely overwhelming. The task of just getting to work sends me into a slight panic. Picking out clothes has my head spinning and heart racing until I seriously consider going in my pajamas. In these moments it becomes one TASK at a time, one HOUR at a time, one MINUTE at a time.
My thought process starts to go something like this “Alright Nicole—you can do this. Just get into the bathroom and turn on the shower—ok good work. Now, take off your clothes. Ok, let’s just start with your shirt. Ok, now bottoms—yeah step out of them. Left foot, ok now right foot. Oh–look at that—you’re naked. Good work. Oh, I really want to go back to bed—[action: walk towards door]—no you can’t. Turn around….the whole way, not just 15 degrees [action: sit on floor]. Alright there’s the next 15 degrees…” And on and on it goes for the rest of the day. Even getting back into bed at the end of the day can be a chore—instead collapsing on the floor in your clothes sounds like the perfect idea. Especially if someone will bring the pillow to you.
On days like this what are you to do?
Well as a consumer—
- Break your day down into whatever time portions you can handle. Even if it really is just one minute at a time.
- Take a hard look at what you have going on in your day and remove everything that doesn’t ABSOLUTELY need to be done. It’s safe to say, when you have to convince yourself to even brush your teeth that you are going to be running behind a lot of the day. And—you’re probably going to be exhausted.
As a supporter—I find there are two things that are helpful to me.
- Help out. Even the smallest task can relieve enormous pressure. On mornings like that, if my husband makes me breakfast (meaning hands me a banana and yogurt as I walk out of the house) he has just eliminated about 15 minutes of intense stress for me. If he makes me bacon—well that’s almost as good as popping a few zyanx.
- Two—be understanding and supportive. Acknowledge and praise how hard I am working. I find my husband is particularly supportive of me getting my clothes off and getting into the shower…he even seems to be quite helpful with those tasks….
Most importantly [shameless plug for one of my great ideas]: email me for one of my new bracelets that say “One Wave at a Time”. I chose to use the word “wave” not only because it fits my awesome blog name (and “Brand” according to my husband), but because it can refer to any mood or task. Some days a wave can represent a minute while other days a wave can represent a whole day or *gasp* even a week! (Ok…let’s not get too ambitious here).
For me, on my bad days—it reminds me to stay focused on the present—on the current wave. On my good days—it’s a show of support for my fellow consumers who are having a “One Minute at a Time” kind of day.