A dear friend (and someone I consider an adopted mother of mine) shot me a message today, asking if I had a few minutes. I was in the shower, trying to pull my head together (which is another story) when it came through; I was still dripping and wrapped in a towel when I responded. You don’t keep ANY of your mothers waiting when they need you.
Long story short, they had a snafu going on and wanted to know if there was anything I’d recommend while waiting for mental health medication refills, anything I did to make it more bearable. I mean, we both knew that there’s no substitute for your medications and your actual support team. But this was a request for supplemental stuff while also utilizing those. I realized after hitting send on my list of coping extras that maybe someone else might benefit from the list too. So, here’s the list of things I do when I need a bit of extra help or when my brain is taking a sick day and needs a bit of extra care. As always, internet disclaimer: Talk to your own doctor about this. I’m not a doctor. This is just what I do for ME.
I know they say it doesn’t cross the blood brain barrier, but it seems to help, and it really helps me with anxiety. (It’s the only thing that got me through hospital days when Steve was dying.) It also helps take the edge off when I feel hopeless. I prefer the kind with B6, but you can get it without. Either is fine, just depends on your particular biology the one you like. (NOW makes a decent one.)
Granted, this is not for everyone. It helps me. I live in Florida, where CBD from cannabis sativa is still illegal without paying through the nose for a doctor, so I opt for hemp-based. I like this company’s STEM pens. They are one of the most reputable sources out there. That’s not a referral link – I just really like them. They helped manage Steve’s pain and arthritis the last few years, too – looking for anything to help him was how I found them, truth be told. I just discovered it also helped me.
Look, I know keto and paleo is popular, but when my brain is taking a sick day or month, I forget to eat or I eat things that require no thought – usually slim jims or coffee with cream. Or worse – restrictive, unhealthy eating behaviors resurface and I end up not eating at all. Which is not good on a good day, but it’s extra terrible when your brain is dealing with serotonin issues, and more so once you know that eating complex carbohydrates stimulates the release of serotonin. If your particular expression of a brain sick day happens to involve not eating, grab some chips and a higher fat dip. (I mean, guacamole anyone?) You don’t need to eat much, but I’ve found it helps bring my calm levels back to a baseline that’s more easily manageable. The older I get, the more allergic to wheat I get (we’re talking hives and pretty severe GI distress) so I can’t opt for the penne pasta with tomatoes and vegetables, or I totally would. (And substitutes just aren’t worth it, no offense.) Bonus: I found I sleep better if I eat them before going to bed.
You’re literally sick. Do what you have to do so you don’t end up getting so far behind you’ll trigger a relapse, but do remember that you are literally, physically, sick. Treat yourself that way. This is really hard for me, but it’s also very, very important. Our western culture doesn’t like to give us this one, so we have to expend a bit of energy (unfortunately) to give it to ourselves and defend our right to it. You take care of yourself.
And that’s my short list. Obviously, staying hydrated and getting sleep also helps, but… uh… yeah, I’m still working on those too. We’ll get there.