For most of us, day to day life with a disability is one of ‘routine’. Not that it is usually possible to keep a routine, by using the word ‘routine’ I mean that day to day the same things tend to happen; you wake up tired or in pain, you have a shower and feel exhausted, you get dressed and need a rest, and so on.
However, this article is not about chronic fatigue, or exhaustion, it is instead about how one goes about the task of gaining some relief from mental fatigue.
At the outset I would like to reiterate that I am not a healthcare professional, these views are my own and are based on my life experience and what works for me, at the moment. If you are depressed and need help then please seek out the advice of a professional. You can find excellent advice here at Mind.
For me, becoming disabled rather than being born with a disability has been, and no doubt will continue to be a challenge – not just physically but mentally. Some days it is possible to compartmentalise the pain and block it out (this is of course with the assistance of prescription drugs). But how does one go about fighting the mental anguish, depression and what doctors infuriatingly like to refer to now as ‘low mood’?
I say infuriatingly because for many those two words belittle something quite serious!
Like many, I take more than enough pills each month so I refuse to take anything more to combat depression. I try distraction techniques; I have an Xbox, I read (though I admit I really struggle to concentrate) I watch DVD’s and have an online film subscription. When I can I get out with a carer, short visits such as a visit to the town centre or to the local supermarket. Sometimes I go to the cinema. Yet distraction techniques rarely work for chronic pain, especially small fiber neuropathy.
I’ve found that keeping my feet and legs warm does help, so you may spot me with a fan on me cooling my top half, whilst my legs are wrapped up! As if I didn’t have image issues already! #Wheelchair_troubles
Friends that benefit
Talking to a professional does help, they are trained to help you get to the crux of the matter, and there is absolutely no shame in seeing a shrink. If you are depressed, please speak to your GP or even self refer to your local support team for counselling or therapy.
It also helps to remove negativity from your life. Start with Social Media and be honest with yourself;
- How many times per hour do I pick up my phone to check on Facebook/Google+/Twitter?
- How many hours do I waste sifting through my social media feeds?
- How do I feel after conversing with people on social media? Do I benefit?
As good as social media is at connecting us with people, are we really getting anything from it? The perception that everyone else is having a great life and we’re missing out isn’t real, we’re all jealous of everyone else, and let’s be honest here criticism and negativity permeate these platforms. Everyone is offended by everything and people read an innocently typed sentence and take up arms faster than you can text them to say “did you actually mean…….?”
So, deliberately limiting how much you use social media is definitely something worth doing.
Removing toxic friends or family from your life may be hard, but it may also be very necessary. Only you can answer whether you benefit from associating with someone and if they are adversely affecting your mental health, an honest look will help you to evaluate.
Turning to a friend who is/has been depressed is a good thing, however, you need to ensure it isn’t just you taking and that you make a positive effort to support them too. If you are lucky enough to have a friend who really does understand depression talk to them, they probably need it as much as you do. I recommend it.
Find something you really enjoy doing, and try to do it regularly – not every day, but once or twice each month.
I love driving; exploring the countryside, my music playing, no rush to get anywhere with all the time in the world. I’m also lucky enough to have a car with really good air con which means my legs can be nice and toasty whilst my top half is perfectly chilled (thank you Mitsubishi). It also has cruise control and a brilliant automatic gearbox so driving really is a pleasure.
So, for me, driving helps me to forget the pain, forget my troubles and actually relax. I also recommend driving in the early hours too, amazing what you see (sunrise, deer, rabbits, foxes, comets, aliens – no not really).
What about that field?
So why did I label this post ‘finding peace in a field’? Well, simply put, because I did! I am lucky enough to know a thoroughly decent chap who happens to own a 200 year old orchard. I was invited to visit, which I gladly accepted.
I spent three very pleasant days just relaxing in the Gloucestershire countryside; the loudest disturbance was bleating sheep and the occasional dragon fly. Being someone who uses a combination of wheelchair, walking sticks and crutches I couldn’t really move around too much, but that didn’t matter, I had an opportunity to simply switch off from everything, for which I am extremely grateful.
So the point of the article is this, I managed to find some peace from the constant battle that a chronic illness presents. It took many steps, and may not work for you, yet I cannot help but recommend an evaluation of your own circumstances, you never know what you may be able to do to better your situation!
A final note; please make sure that you have in place steps to keep your good mood active, the come down is real.
All the best,
(Many thanks to Ben)
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