So here’s the thing, I can talk about hitting rock bottom because I’ve been there. The good news is, step by step I climbed back up and I have to tell you, the view is amazing. I am going to share with you how I did it, hoping that you reading this today may be one of your steps towards the summit.
The first step, as cliche as it sounds, is the hardest step; recognising that you have hit rock bottom.
Rock bottom looks different for everyone, everyone has different thresholds for stress and of course everyone has a different amount of resiliency at their disposal.
For me, rock bottom happened
two years ago. I had been through three major life changing events within the space of six months. I had always been considered resilient in my life, when teachers described me that’s the word that was used, so when I didn’t ‘bounce back’, it surprised myself and those around me. I had gone from this social, energetic and optimistic person, to someone who hated going out, binged on junk food and lost all motivation to do anything. Almost every day I woke up, wishing I could just go back to sleep. I was having nightmares and broken sleep, panic attacks almost daily and I felt numb.
The first step for me recognising I was in the midst of depression and experiencing anxiety, was actually when a good friend pointed out that I may need to seek help. She recognised the signs and explained what she felt might be going on and helped me find the courage to go to the doctor. In hindsight I realise that by my friend reaching out on that day, was step one. I had realised I need help, sometimes we need support to recognise it.
So if you are a friend or a family member and you are worried about someone you love. Dont be afraid to have that difficult conversation, you could really make a difference.
I tackled this segment in my life with help from all different angles. Its important you have an ambundence of help because the mountain isnt easy to climb alone.
Going to the doctor and asking for help was not easy. In fact I had to take a friend with me to explain because I just couldn’t find the words. This is actually something you CAN do, it is okay not being able to get the words out. Doctors are happy, in these situations, for you to bring support with you. The doctor listened, was sympathetic and lacked judgement. All my preconceptions had been wrong, it was not terrifying at all and I had in reality taken step two. The doctor prescribed medication to help me sleep and therapy to talk through the events that had happened. Slowly I started my summit, the journey was underway and I had to keep working hard for it.
Having a support system is key, surrounding yourself around people who have the same drive for self improvement. For me, I had great friends, an understanding boss and a fantstic, supportive, partner. You can lean on the people around you, you might feel like you are alone but you are not. I also learnt that it is okay to effevtively cut people out of your life if they are damaging to your self improvement. This is YOUR time to be selfish and you are fighting to get YOUR life back so don’t let anyone get in the way of YOUR progress.
Talking to a therapist was the last thing I wanted to do. So I went to the first session expecting it to not really change anything because reality was well.. reality. In my eyes talking to a therapist wasn’t going to change that or anything. BUT I was wrong! It is not often I am happy to be wrong, but this was definitely one of those times. No therapy didn’t change my reality bu it changed the way I perceived it. It changed my way of thinking from a problem focused thought pattern to a solution focused thought process. I learnt that there are certain things in your control and others are not. Recognising that you can actually influence change in your own life is a powerful tool.
It is surprising how therapy can not only teach you to look at things differently but also help you identify healthy coping strategies. I left every session feeling motivated, uplifted and calm. Dont get me wrong, it gets ugly in that room, but that’s okay. It really is a safe environment and you will feel nothing but support. Following the completion of my course I actually wished I could go every week. I only wish therapy was free for everyone.
I understand that some people wouldn’t feel comfortable with therapy but I would just say, try it just once before you knock it.
Building healthy habits
There is recovery found in building new habits and routines. Routines are a good way to set a foundation for healing. Filling your time with activities that are good for your soul. One of the best things you can do, and I am aware you’ve probably heard this at least a thousand times already, but it is true; is exercising. It floods your body with endorphins and this is a natural happy hormone.
Myself, also having being told this over and over, I decided to look for a class I could join. I happened to stumble onto a kickboxing club offering taster sessions, so without even giving myself a chance to talk myself out of it, I signed up. With my partner and friend, of course! Now, taking the first few steps into the dojo for the first time was by far the most difficult thing I did at the time. I was so anxious about being around new people, I was worried I wouldnt like it or even worse failing. I was worried about judgement from others and the ‘what if I can’t keep up with the exercise’. But what I realised is everyone starts somewhere, everyone starts a novice and in order to progress everyone has to take their first class.
One of the biggest steps to my ‘bouncing back’ was stepping into the Dojo. The first session was amazing, I felt such a rush and all of a sudden I felt alive again. Dont get me wrong, for almost a year, I still experienced anxiety before going in, but each time I did step in I taught myself that I CAN. I can do the things I tell myself I can’t and I learnt that I can rebuild after hitting rock bottom. With joining an exercise class, naturally came more good friends. Before I knew it I had a whole social network of people who strive for progression every single day. People who inspired me to keep pushing, showing me what hard work can do if you stick to it consistently. They are some of the most supportive people I have ever had the pleasure of meeting.
I found recovery in encorporating kickboxing into my routines, and it quickly became therapy. I had finally established a long term therapeutic intervention for myself. Seeing the benefits I had and how quickly I started to live again, I just want to inspire as many pepole as possible to take that first step. Because it will change your life. It doesn’t have to be kickboxing, but anything you’re interested in; all exercise counts! You just need to practice discipline.
There is power in good food, regaining control over what you put into your machine of a body is more important than you think. Eating the right food has been proven, scientificialy, to improve your mental health.
The key to eating the right food is preperation! You must plan and prep your meals on a weekly basis, again starting out is hard. But once you’ve established a new routine then it is EASY work. Consistency really is the real deal. The myth that healthy food has to be salad is ridiculous, I can eat all the good tasting foods too! With minor adjustments you will still enjoy you’re food but feel extraordinarily better. Getting control over my diet made me feel so much better and I truly believe it was one of top factors in my come back from rock bottom.
If you are like me staying focused and driven is tough! With depression comes a lack of motivation so obviously maintaining focus is a real struggle. Reminding yourself of where you were and why you got started is a great way to stay focused. Setting goals can be a useful tool to be consistent with your healthy habits. Set youself a few small goals, they tend to be more short term, and then set yourself some longer term challenges.
You will have days where all motivation is lost, it is okay to have those days. If you need to retreat then give yourself the one day to retreat, you can relax and enjoy the day off. The next day you need to wake up with a clear mind and focused. You’ve started the fight but it is not done yet, there is still work to do.
Once you take back control over your life and start implementing helpful tools you will find that resilience is building. See, bouncing back after difficult times is a battle, so once you start, you teach yourself one of the most important lessons. That you CAN bounce back, only this time you are stronger, more resilient. It will take a hell of storm to knock you down next time.
I hope reading this has shown that all you have to do is take one step at a time, one breath and one day. As long as you are moving in the right direction it doesn’t matter how long it takes. The end goal is always the same; progress. Noone, including myself, is ever done learning, growing and achieving. So if you think you are at rock bottom, I have good news, you are about to embark on the most wonderful journey back to yourself.