Yesterday I put together a kind of psychological first aid kit (pictured below) on the advice of my therapist. Partly because I can now see that I won't be in intensive therapy forever and that I need to develop some tools of my own to get through bad mental health days. Also, the toll that my health and moods sometimes takes on my family is almost invisible from the outside (even to close friends and family) but it has an impact on our home life, relationships and ability to plan for the future which I want to take responsibility to minimise as much as possible.
Needless to say I don't know where I would be without the understanding, love and care of my husband who sees bad times coming even before I do and helped me put this box together.
This self-care themed box is a little gift to myself and didn't cost much to prepare. I sourced the flamingo box (which is quite large in retrospect but perfect for this purpose) and essential oils from TK maxx but I had the rest of the stuff at home. It felt like a kind thing to do for myself, although I felt a little silly at times, and overwhelmed when it came to actually hunting down the things to put in it.
I had done a bit of googling and decided to include contains something aimed at each of the 5 senses - touch (doggy), sight (photos) , hearing (earbuds & playlist), taste (chocolate & tea) and smell (candle and essential oils). I knew I would want a journal, crossword book, cosy scarf and something of my son's (an old t shirt). My therapist suggested that the me in need of the box may also wish to hear something from the me creating the box.
Below is a little note to me from me that I have included in this my first ever psychological first aid kit. It was surprisingly easy to write, only time will tell if I have written what I need to hear on bad days when I plan to turn to this self-care kit for anxious and (seemingly) broken little me.
She doesn't really know that I am here, the me that can write a blog, organises events, is studying a masters, raising a child, and is planning to appear on a radio show about mental health which is going to be recorded this afternoon (more details on this coming soon).
A letter to yourself is a strange thing and perhaps should remain private, but I am sharing mine here to show it is possible to talk kindly to ourselves even when we set our bars high the rest of the time.
It is possible to resent having mental illness, have times when we seem to find functioning hard and no one notices...but to take responsibility rather than pile on more blame and bad feelings.
Hope this is helpful.
Hi Lena (little me)
Sorry that you are having a bad day today.
I know that you feel like everyday is a bad day right now but I am here to tell you that it isn’t.
It is ok to feel rubbish today but please know that I am here to help and together we can get through this as we always end up doing.
We can even learn from days like this as they show that we will never give up, no matter how bad we feel sometimes.
There are a few options now that may help you cope with today and are better than not looking after yourself, crying and seeking reassurance or trying to block it out with sleep.
These things will probably not be what you feel like doing right now but they are things that can help you calm down, raise your gaze and improve your mood a little.
When you start feeling like me again, there will be a rocky patch where you are not sure whether you are you or me, this doubt is also an important part of looking after yourself. You are allowed to feel like this and I will do everything I can to nudge you towards feeling more like you can help yourself get through this.
I am here to help as the you who plans for the future, gets excited about all sorts of things and who knows she is loved exactly the way you are, faults and all.
You have an illness which is producing symptoms that make you feel like it is all your fault for feeling this way. You can take responsibility without blaming yourself by trying out something like the following little things that may help (even if you don’t feel like doing them please pick one and give it a go):
Stroke the #maddog
Ask for a big hug
Take a walk
Just get outside and take some slow deep breaths
Play a game, candy crush, do some colouring, something that absorbs
Cook or bake something
Write it all down
Some CBT: ABCDEs
Work on your sewing
Listen to your calm playlist
Take a bath with a good book
Do some yoga
Watch a documentary
Use Buddhify app to do some meditation
Can't sleep - play the ABC-name game eg. A is for Anna, B is for Betty...
Schedule mastery and pleasure activities for today and tomorrow
Ask: How best can I help and support myself today?
Some of these may seem too much for you right now, maybe they all do. Know we have been here before and it passes. Try one of these things, then another and another and see what will work to help you today.
You are more than your thoughts and feelings, you can observe them after all.
There is more to you than today and you are loved.
I am always here for you,