After my daughter was born in January 2016, I was diagnosed with postnatal depression, which I did not know men could get. The fight back was intense, and sadly it did end in divorce. However it has been amicable, and our family unit is very strong.
The internet has a never-ending supply of advice on how to deal with situations like this, and much of it is generic and impersonal. As part of my quest for health I became a Neuro Linguistic Programming Practitioner, and I became a great believer in creating my own coping strategies.
When you do this on your own they can seem quite silly, which you should embrace. You know “you” better than anyone, and your shade of mental illness is personal to you. So why shouldn’t your coping strategies?
Below are three of mine, which I hope will inspire you to experiment and come up with your own.
Discover your fortune
This is similar to having positive quotes as a screensaver, motivational posters, or an app or bot that messages you encouragement every day. You can buy a bag of fortune cookies and open one each day with your coffee.
Recent ones that I have opened have been:-
“You will be blessed with luck at the next New Moon”
“Prosperity is in your future”
“You will be recognised as a leader in your community”
The words of encouragement start your day with a smile, and there’s something about the physicality of opening it, and eating it, that seems to give it more power. It has an excitement too, like a present, or opening an advent calendar.
Swipe left on those negative thoughts
You are not your thoughts, you are the thinker of your thoughts. The aim is to embrace the gap between stimulus and response. Just because something happens, or something pops in to your head, does to mean you have to respond emotionally or at all.
You can picture your thoughts floating in the air, or on an ipad screen, and imagine they are part of a dating app. Swipe right to accept, swipe left to dismiss.
Physically waving your hand in front of you to dismiss the thoughts will help it work more effectively.
Just because they are imaginary doesn’t mean they are not real.
Just as our imagination can be used to harm us, worrying about the negative things that might happen, or the monster hiding under the bed, it can also be used to empower us.
The variations on this one are unlimited. From visualising you are wearing the armour of your favourite hero, to being an alien android on a mission of discovery. The one I use most is to picture two massive wolves that walk beside me, lay beside my bed, or jump up and lick my face. I have anchored them to a pendant I wear, my company logo, and artwork in my apartment.
It boosts confidence and the feeling of calm, and it is also silly. So I smile.
What hacks can you create, to get through the day?