A teacher I know would always say to the group – in order to stay centred and well all you need is MEDS. So what is MEDS and why should you do it?
Meditate daily for a minimum of X minutes/hours. Focus only on your breathing, slowly in and out, look at a candle flame, remember to come back to the breath, come back to the now. Close your eyes, keep your eyes open.
Except that – when you have depression and social anxiety it is very hard to meditate when your mind is racing with a million thoughts a minute, all of them saying ‘and this, and this, and don’t forget this’. While I know that the trick is not to get caught up in them, to ignore them or to thank them and return to your breath, it is very hard to do when in the middle of it.
Some days you are struggling to just remember to breathe. You have days where you inhale and realise that you haven’t taken in a full, deep breath all day. You are so wired and tense that your shoulders are up around your ears, your muscles are tense and tight and you have a knot in your stomach.
Get up, get out and move. Doesn’t matter what it is – walking, running, yoga, dancing – just do something. Get out into nature, get fresh air and sunshine.
Except that – when you are depressed or anxious you find yourself hiding from the world. All you want to do is stay in a darkened room, blinds drawn against daylight.
Of course you know you will feel better once you have actually done something, anything, but when you stop berating yourself for being such a lazy lump and can barely urge yourself to at least move from the bed to the couch how can you be expected to turn up for a Zumba class and let rip?
Aah, diet! Eat healthy organic food, freshly and lovingly prepared for each meal. Eat meat, don’t eat meat. Go alkaline, go paleo. Eat this, eat that. Take these vitamins or minerals. No – you get all the vitamins and minerals you need from your food – if you eat right.
Salads and soups and stir fries are all very delicious and healthy but, and this is if you can bother to cook, you really need comfort food, recipes and dishes with the smells and tastes from any good times.
Except that – you need to be able to go out and shop for these glossy vegetables at your local farmer’s market or greengrocer but you have depression so from the safety of your couch you order from the local supermarket and take whatever limp and soon to be out of date ‘substitutes’ they bring you, because they didn’t have what you ordered in the store.
Ground yourself, shield yourself, see a gold/purple/pink/white/blue (pick a colour) bubble of light all around you, every day. Pray to God, Goddess, the earth, the moon, the sun and the stars. Surround yourself with glitter sprinkled pictures of unicorns.
You can ask for anything, the universe is just waiting on you to ask, begging in fact. Whatever you need it will provide. Do this ritual, ask this angel/spirit/saint to help. You are a perfect divine being and are loved absolutely. Open your chakras, close your chakras.
Except that you can’t find peace, contentment, happiness, joy anywhere. With depression you think that you are not good enough to be loved by anybody – least of all Spirit. You still search though. Even with your anxiety you attend every workshop and retreat that you can. You read all the books. You pay your money online or at the door, the door that promises that you can heal yourself and others once you have learned this method, over a weekend – you get a certificate and everything.
When the MEDS don’t work …
Unfortunately when depression and anxiety hit, you are not centred or well. You are buried under the weight of a black cloud, a fog that you can’t see through. Your limbs feel like they have weights on and you can’t move. Everything hurts and aches.
If you are on medication for depression and anxiety it can have side effects of making you lethargic or put on weight so you can’t muster the energy to do anything and you are worrying why all your clothes are gone so tight.
Except that …
I do feel that MEDS is a great self-care plan for everyone and something easy to remember when you are well. I also know, as with every bit of advice that is given, that when you offer this ‘great idea’ to a family member or friend who is struggling you will be told to ‘f*** off with your ‘Love and Light’ and all that crap’. And you know what, when I am where they are I feel the same way too.
So if you can, do it, add MEDS to your tool box, try to ask someone to join you in a class or on a walk (as all the research shows we are more likely to stick to doing things when you have someone to go with you), try to sit still and breathe for just 30 seconds, try walking in your garden in bare feet.
And if you can’t, well you can’t, and you know what, that’s okay too.