Coping with mental illness: positive self talk

Coping with mental illness: positive self talk

Recovering from mental illness takes hard work and perseverance. Yesterday I wrote about how having a bad day didn’t mean your recovery has failed. It’s true – recovery is not linear. Some days you will feel on top of the world, and others you will feel at your lowest. And there may be long stretches of time that you don’t notice change at all. 

But despite it may not always appear like you are starting to get better, you need to persevere. I’ve learned this in the past and I am holding on to it tightly today. Because today, like last night, I feel very low. Don’t judge me if you hear me talking to myself because today I am using positive self talk to keep me on track.

Why am I feeling low?

For me, it’s always important to address why I feel a certain way. If I know the root of the issue, I feel more powerful to deal with it. 

I know that there is a physical reason for my apparent decline: sleep. My daughter is cutting her 4 back molars and I have suddenly found myself up all hours trying to soothe her. 3 hours sleep is not enough for me. 3 hours sleep, 4 days in a row is torture. I’ve found myself wanting to get into bed and sleep. Bed is my safe place, my cocoon that I retreat to when depression is at its peak. So it is natural for some of those associations to surface when genuine tiredness causes me to spend more daylight hours in bed. Long stretches in bed brings on the depressive feelings.
Secondly, at the moment I am very vulnerable. I am a difficult place and although I feel I’ve turned a corner, I am still easily knocked. Something as simple as receiving a letter can put me in a panic and spin. Today I received 2 letters. If I was mentally well at the moment, the content of them wouldn’t make me feel anxious, but because of my current fragility, they have me reeling. 

How can I stop the drop in mood from escalating?

I’ve followed all of my other coping strategies and self care. I’m dressed and out of bed. But today the thing that is helping me most, is positive self talk. Every time I hear a negative voice, I say a positive affirmation out loud. Some of the things I have said to myself today include:

  • You are getting better
  • It’s OK to find things hard
  • You’ve got this
  • Let’s help retrain my thinking by hanging the dialogue
  • I am so proud of myself
  • I don’t need to be afraid
  • I am loved
  • I love myself. I like myself. I’m happy to be me.

I don’t always believe everything I say but I really find it helpful to stop my negative internal dialogue. It’s easy for me to spiral into a cycle of self criticism and despair. Today I am refusing to let those thoughts have a voice. 


Why say it out loud?

If I’m out and about, chances are I won’t say this out loud. I don’t want to look crazy! Sometimes I type it in my phone as a note or text to myself. Seeing the words is more powerful than just thinking them. But I find it most powerful and effective when I hear the words.
The thing is, I think I have had really negative internal dialogue for a long time. I think lots of us do – why can’t I keep on to of the housework? I’m fat. I’m not good enough for that promotion. I don’t want to email her because she probably doesn’t like me. 
It takes a lot to drown out my own negative thoughts. Saying a new, positive dialogue takes courage and is hard. If I chose to say it out loud, the other negative thoughts can’t overtake it. I only say the positive words. Anything negative I’m feeling towards myself is ignored. When positive self talk is spoken out loud it literally frowns out your negative internal dialogue. For a moment, the horrible things you say to yourself are silenced. And for me, that is very powerful.

Try it. Be kind to yourself.

I, by the way, am totally amazing xx

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