Checking The Rear View Mirror

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Healthy Hospo founder Tim Etherington-Judge talks about his struggles with depression and how he recognises the tell-tale signs of the storm clouds gathering

I’ve lived with severe depression for over 20 years. It has been, and always will be, a lifelong battle.

One of the problems with mental health is that you don’t always realise that you’re ill until it’s got really bad, like having a cold that you didn’t realise was there until you start bubbling snot at every breath. Another problem is that it can sneak up on your and if you don’t recognise the storm clouds creeping up behind you in the rearview mirror you can get blindsided from behind. When we think we’re getting sick, we take action to cut it off at the pass and it shouldn’t be any different with mental illness.

Learning to recognise the warning signs and taking action before I get whacked has been one of the most important steps in my recovery.

My good eating plan goes out of the window, I switch from eating mainly wholesome organic vegetables and nutrient dense smoothies to enormous peanut butter and crisp sandwiches (i’m talking a whole loaf of bread enormous). I’ll find I have a general lack of energy and motivation to the point that I won’t even be able to get myself up for some of my most pleasurable pastimes like cycling and I spend too much time mindlessly checking social media whilst at the same time excusing myself from social activities. Another sign is a massive drop in confidence and beginning to doubt everything I’m doing sometimes to the point of stopping doing anything at all.

Recognising these triggers has helped me put in place a daily plan to keep myself ahead of the game. I don’t stick to it religiously but when I take a little reflection time and see the tell-tale signs creeping up in the rearview mirror I make sure I take the time to get a better sleep, eat as many fruits and vegetables as I can, do my daily meditation and force myself out for a run or onto the bike.

These are my triggers and are personal to me. Yours will probably be different, particularly if you don’t like peanut butter, and learning to recognise them can be one of the most powerful tools you have to put depression back in its box. So next time you feel the storm clouds building, take a little time to sit down, reflect and see if you can change direction.

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