2019 has been objectively awesome for me:
- Made it to PPC Hero’s Top 25 Most Influential PPC Experts.
- Traveled to Germany, Poland, Australia, Portugal, San Francisco, Tahoe and Philadelphia for work.
- My best friends are all having babies.
- I got a raise.
- Jogged a 5k.
- Began working on a book with a dear friend in the industry.
- I was selected to main stage PubCon (my first “big” talk).
Despite the star power in my life, I spent more days than I’d like to admit in tears, feeling like my world was crashing down – feeling unworthy and that I was failing at everything.
I have been battling depression and anxiety since I was a little girl (mostly unmedicated).
Depression and anxiety are tough because they aren’t always present and you have no idea when your mind will put you in a cage of your own making.
Sometimes the sadness will give you a reprieve, letting you grow complacent in your thought patterns.
Other times, it surrounds you in a masochistically comforting cloak, blocking out the objective facts, only letting you see what you tell yourself: alone, unloved, unworthy, broken, or any other self-destructive thought.
My recent bout of depression was objectively interesting to me because it was brought on by something that should have been positive. Yet I was so close the edge, my mind twisted it into darkness.
Clawing out of it (and being able to see my worth/accomplishments) required exercising coping mechanisms I picked up over the years.
Important note: I am not a licensed professional and none of this should be taken as medical advice.
Simply the experiences of a fellow mind on the road to owning our star power instead of giving into our darkness.
My Personal Coping Mechanisms
These mechanisms have different effectiveness levels depending on how far the anxiety/depression has set in. I classify these percentages as follows:
- 0-25% – Starting to feel “meh” or irked but you can recognize these feelings are focused on an individual experience/moment and not an indication of overall gloom.
- 25-50% – Most things cause a sense of sadness or apathy and levels of focus begin to get compromised.
- 50-75% – Rational thoughts are harder to form and most thought patterns are gloom, fear, anger, or numbness. You have enough control to keep people from “seeing you this way” but not much more.
- 75-100% – The mind is completely overcome with darkness and self-destructive thoughts begin turning into self-destructive actions. It’s at this stage that medication or supplements are needed to help break the darkness so other coping mechanisms can be used.
Coping Mechanism 1: Hearing Something Happy About/from Someone You Care Deeply About
I am predisposed to put others needs before my own.
Hearing those I care about are doing well, or something really happy happened around them, helps distract my negative thought patterns long enough to see them for what they are.
When I hear the positive in other people’s lives, and their ability to voice it, it gives me a framework to begin focusing back on the positive in my life.
I specifically ask folks whom I know will tell me something happy as opposed to try and make me feel better, because in that depressed state, I know I see it as patronizing (as opposed to the kind gesture it is).
It’s important to note, this mechanism only helps me when I’m at 0-25% in a depressed or anxious state.
Asking to hear something happy and being able to truly be present with the person sharing takes proactive thinking, and may not be as impactful once the depressed state has taken a stronger hold.
Coping Mechanism 2: Helping Someone You Care About Deeply
What I love most about helping people is it forces you to stop focusing on yourself, which is the easiest way to diffuse the darkness.
One of the best parts of my job (and why I genuinely love digital marketing) is there are hundreds of these moments baked into client interactions.
Every conversation is about helping the people behind a brand achieve profit and happiness in their work.
Volunteering for a cause you believe in is another great way to energize yourself.
Depression and anxiety’s cruelest trick is making you think that you’re unworthy of happiness. Putting good into the world is a shield against that mental trap.
This mechanism is applicable up to 50% depressed/anxious state because past that, you may not have the energy to engage with people.
Coping Mechanism 3: Every Moment of Sadness Pays for a Moment of Happiness
This mantra has been my oldest and dearest friend over the years.
I’m a firm believer of naming moments of sadness and despair as payment for an even greater moment of glory and happiness.
Two key principles that inform a lot of how I operate:
- Every mind needs a degree of “trauma” to survive so it knows it can beat back future hardships.
- The world is meant to be balanced and karma won’t allow a single soul to carry more despair than joy in their life.
While this mantra helps me at all stages (even the dreaded 75%+), it’s been a life-long exercise to leverage it.
Every mind thinks differently, and it’s important to find a thought pattern that resonates with you in the moment.
Coping Mechanism 4: Listen to Power Music
Music has truly transformative powers and can unlock so many things in a person.
I almost exclusively listen to “fast” music, because the slower the song, the more likely it is to make me anxious or depressed.
I have a list of “power songs” I can turn to. They do three incredibly important things for me:
- Fill my mind with positive ideas and feelings, so I can claim/reclaim my power.
- Let me reset my charisma and people engagement, so I can interact with peers in a healthy way.
- Help balance out my “analytical” perspective so my “creative” perspective can contribute to my world view.
I always listen to power music (does great things for my creative work) – but when I need to break free of depression/anxiety, these songs help me:
- No More Lies – Iron Maiden
- Valhalla – Blind Guardian
- World of Stone – Blackmore’s Night
- Devil’s Dancefloor – Flogging Molly
- Crimson Bride – Kamelot
- Fight Your Demons – Epica
- Sacrament of Sin – Power Wolf
Coping Mechanism 5: Drinking Kava Tea & Taking Theanine
Reminder: I am not a doctor and none of what I’m sharing should be taken as medical advice.
When I’m at my worst moments (blind rage, panic attacks, crippling depression) I turn to kava tea and theanine to help me break the depression/anxiety.
These two aids do the following things for me:
- Breaking panic attacks: Anyone who has ever had a panic attack knows they aren’t fun (physical and mental assaults on the body). I’ve found that taking theanine/drinking kava can break a panic attack within 10 minutes. Complete balance is usually achieved within 30 minutes.
- Breaking pervasive despair and rage: When I’m over 75%, I know I need help to get to a place where I can leverage my other coping mechanisms. Both kava tea and theanine have proven time and again they can help me “reset.”
It’s important to note that I choose not to take SSRIs (traditional depression and anxiety medications) because I get really bad side-effects. I know people who take them and are fine.
There is no shame in knowing one needs medications/supplements to help battle depression/anxiety.
Coping Mechanism 6: Celebrating the Good I See in Other People/Situations
Those who know me, know I try to put a positive spin on most things.
I do this because seeing the good in others and celebrating it out loud keeps my mind on a positive track so I can see my own goodness.
The more I can celebrate others, the more I can help my brain focus on positive accomplishments in my own life.
Seeing the good in a situation or person becomes a game: can we win the “debate” that the entity in question represents a positive thing?
By turning the world into a game, I condition myself to see a challenge to overcome (instead of a hopeless mire of cruel intentions and insurmountable odds).
These coping mechanisms are how I own my mind and force myself to see the good in my life. It isn’t easy, and there are absolutely times I fail to catch myself before the dreaded 75% mark.
Being mindful of what situations will erode mental fortitude, as well as which ones will boost it, is critical.
We are worthy – never let anyone or anything cause you to doubt how much good you bring to the world.