I have some really great Coping Mechanisms for my Mental Health issues.
Thankfully there are my Family and Friends. I have a great support network, even though I rarely talk directly about my Mental Health to them. It is no secret but I prefer not to burden them, they are aware and they know that sometimes I need extra support.
But Coping Mechanisms are often things you have to do yourself.
For one there is my writing:
- My Judge-Tutor Semple Blog is great for my Mental Health. I enjoy writing about what I enjoy. I also enjoy that it seems to give others some enjoyment. Some of the creative people I have written about have personally thanked me. I’ve received some lovely gifts from one or two. Not to mention preview Pdf copies of comics (I much prefer paper so I often buy what I got for free anyway)!
- I am also working on a few other writing projects, such as a 3 book series of novellas that I plan to publish on Lulu.
I am aware of physical indicators – such as raised body temperature, increased heart rate & breathing prior to a Panic Attack. By being aware of my body I have been able to stave off Panic Attacks effectively, I haven’t had a full Panic Attack in daytime for at least 2 years.
I very often notice my mood swings and can try to regulate them, or at least be aware that after Hyper mood might come Sadness or more often Anger. So, if I feel Hyper at work I e-mail my Team Leader; she is fully aware of my Mental Health issues and is a great help. Telling someone I am experiencing mood swings at least gets it ‘out there’. I mentor people at work & have had to tell them sometimes, ‘I’m experiencing Mood Swings today, if I am less patient than usual and snap at you, please be aware I don’t mean to.” And I have sometimes snapped or been abrupt and colleagues understand because I am open. (I know that doesn’t work everywhere)
I can also feel when Anxiety is building or if I am drifting in to Depression. I have lots of Distraction Techniques:
- I write (as above) to distract myself sometimes.
- I go for walks
- I watch favourite DVDs
- I watch TV shows on Catch Up (BBC iPlayer, 4OD, etc). Usually History, Science or Nature.
I try to look after myself physically. I walk a lot and I eat a varied diet including healthy options alongside things I enjoy. So I eat chocolate as snacks but I eat fruit and nuts/seeds too; which I actually like a lot. I have Arthritis in both my knees so looking after my body helps my knees as well as my Mental Health
But sometimes I neglect myself and resort to bad or Unhealthy Coping Mechanisms.
One of my less harmful Unhealthy Coping Mechanisms is Lego… yes I am being serious. If I am down I buy Lego sets on the spur of the moment. I sometimes spend more than I realistically should on a treat in this manner. It isn’t as bad as when DVDs were my Retail Therapy… I once spent £100.00 in one trip to HMV, then spent more in another shop. At that time I might forget to buy a proper meal for tea but pickup two DVDs in the Supermarket. So this one isn’t too bad compared to the past, I’m getting there on this one.
The one that is still a big issue is Alcohol. I was once diagnosed as Border-Line Alcoholic. Alcoholism is a misunderstood illness. Mine was a coping mechanism for Depression when it started. I don’t drink much at all at home. In June that would be 2 litres of Cider (one 2 litre bottle in one night, my son had one too – it was a treat), maybe 12 cans of Bitter or Lager (at most three in a night more likely 1) and 3 sips of Irish Whiskey – this is for the whole month. In fact that is a high intake month for me, some months are zero.
So most people would say I am not an Alcoholic, I agree – but I a still have a problem. I social drink. I used to avoid going home on the nights my Children were at their Mother’s house. I have custody and the first few times they went to their Mum’s was awful, coming home to an empty house. My Children are very important to me, as are my Grandchildren now I have two of those. My Son is 19 and still lives with me, my Daughter is 24 and married with two Daughters of her own. I would drink 12 or 13 pints three nights a week – every week – to avoid that empty house. Sometimes I would go to a nightclub when the pub shut, with the Barmen as I developed a friendship with them. I was in that pub so often I even got invited to staff parties. I don’t get hangovers so I never missed work due to it and no one could tell I was doing it.
One Unhealthy Coping Mechanism I never do now is pretend to family I went to work but didn’t. I used to get ready for work, take my children to school and walk off towards the bus stop. I’d then go home, but leave the house before my Mother came to provide Childcare.
But this drinking… I find it hard to go to the pub with Work Colleagues and drink responsibly. I have achieved it a few times this year which is great. I managed to go to the pub after work 6 Fridays in a row & average 2 hours with some great colleagues and drink on average 1 pint of Guinness and 2 Diet Cokes (is Diet Pepsi alright?). I am fine when I drink with my best mates, three or four over four hours is now possible and we rarely do that as one lives in Scotland and another in Hong Kong – he finds the commute to Leeds for a pint a bit inconvenient.
But sometimes… like last night… I went out with colleagues. Started OK with two pints in about 180 minutes. Then speeded up. I ditched my Colleagues to go meet my Nephew – to be fair I invited them but the pub was further than they wanted to walk. I should have kept drinking with Colleagues separate to drinking with my Nephew. We sometimes meet up in my local pub for two or three pints and a natter, that is healthy as we both get worries and niggles off our chests. But by combining drinking with Colleagues to more excess than I really want at the moment with meeting up with my Nephew… I drank much more than I like to. At the time I didn’t care and I was doing it just to be drunk.
Today… no hangover I NEVER get them. Guilt. Because I only did it to get drunk. The relaxed socialising with Colleagues stopped and I just wanted to be drunk and not feel lonely. That is a disservice to my Colleagues, to my Son, to my Friends and Family. But most it is a disservice to myself.
But I forgive me, I have to or I will dwell on it, I’ll get Depressed and perhaps wallow. It has happened, it is over now. Next time I have a drink with Colleagues it will be Diet Coke (is Diet Pepsi alright?). Then if I choose to stay out late, it is because I want to spend time with my Colleagues or my Nephew or my Friends or my Son.