Singing in the rain
Our friend and Moodscope member Rachel Kelly has written today's blog for us. Rachel is a writer and mental health campaigner and has just published her latest book, Singing in the Rain: An inspirational Workbook, published by Short Books...
I remember the sense of elation I felt when I first started using Moodscope's tools to track my own mood around five years ago. And the reason was simple. I was in charge!
After years of waiting for experts, be they psychiatrist or therapists to assess the extent of my problems and state of mood, I could get cracking without waiting for permission from anyone else. This sense of my own agency, and that I had a role in my own recovery, was profoundly empowering.
This insight is the basis for my current approach to managing my own mental health. Every day I remind myself that I can make a difference. This begins as soon as I wake.
The first thing I do is to make my bed, the white duvet perfectly aligned and my pillows plumped. A small gesture to be sure, but one that reminds me that if I take control of small decisions in this way I will feel my own power to affect larger decisions.
In addition, I can take care with the language I use to myself and to others. Instead of saying 'I'm at the mercy of my depression' I might say 'I can choose how to respond to my low mood'. Or instead of saying 'I can't deal with this stress and worry', I might say 'I can't deal with this stress and worry yet.'
This approach has led to the creation of Singing in the Rain, a practical workbook of ideas and exercises for readers to complete. There is a place in my day for thinking and reflection, but I've found that while pondering often makes me sad, doing rarely does. With the help of mental health nurses, psychologists and psychiatrists, we have developed practical steps you can take to feel empowered, be it writing an appreciation letter, cooking with your mental health in mind, or composing a poem to process difficult feelings. And while the experts helped the devise the book, they don't need to be there for you to complete the steps within.
All well and good but some of you may be thinking - well, that's all very well but I don't feel up to completing a workbook. I understand. They were days when I too could hardly get out of bed in my long battle with depression.
With this in mind, the book is structured in four parts, the first thirteen steps being ones that are relatively easy to adopt and only gradually do the steps become a bit more challenging. In the first section you will find easy to adopt breathing exercises as well as ways to relax physically, while as the book progresses there exercises to lessen perfectionism and to help you find a sense of purpose.
It is for you to reject or adopt the strategies as you see fit, at the pace that suits you. I hope I never forget who is in charge.
A Moodscope member