This guest post was contributed by Pip Johnson-Kapp, a mother, blogger and photographer.
As a child I always loved playing stuck in the mud, however as an adult I seem to play ‘how to get out of the mud’ more often than I’m not.
I was first put on antidepressants at 21, when I reached out to a doctor to help me understand why I always felt angry and under pressure or unable to just get on and do things – why my head always talked me out of things.
I revisited a doctor at 24 as I was turning to other stimulants to counteract the emotional loop the loops I had found myself accustomed to. I was put on a three month course of antidepressants.
I was diagnosed with postnatal depression at 29, two years after my first was born, and finally given a ‘label’ as to why I always felt cross, angry and agitated.
I was diagnosed with pre-natal depression at 33, and I was admitted to a psychiatric hospital for intense therapy while my fourth flirtation with antidepressants started.
I’m 38 and I’ve been playing ‘how to get out of the mud’ for 17 years. That’s half my life that I’ve been searching for answers as to why I get to be one of the statistic living with depression and anxiety. It’s only recently that I’ve started forcing myself not to research and question ‘why’, but to take control and look for more than just medicine or therapy to help me. I know all my warning signs, I know all the triggers, but I’m still learning how to live with it.
Sleep is the biggest contributing factor for me and I’m finally prioritising it. Yes, it means I go to sleep before my husband. Yes, I miss GBBO (Great British Bake Off) and, yes, I miss going out at night, but in the thick of it I have to prioritise rest. My mind switches off when I’m asleep. Obviously, I can’t sleep all day every day, although that would be incredible, so I’ve been pushing myself to meditate. I use the CALM app ALOT. If I feel myself reaching boiling point and I’m in a rational mood, I will tap out and go meditate.
The only problem I’ve found with these two solutions is that they are lonely and very sedentary.
Since moving to the countryside in 2020, every morning I try and stand holding a coffee barefoot on the grass and take in the green, the air and the length and depth of the skyline. It reminds me that I’m small and that my worries are small, as there is a bigger world out there. I also recently have been dragging myself out in all weather for a dog walk. It’s normally the last thing I feel like doing, but once I’m moving, watching Rebel’s tail wag, I start to be mindful, in the moment, present with a clear and focused mind. I’m noticing what and who is around me. I’m thinking ahead for the walk, conscious of doing something that she needs that I benefit from too. I love watching the seasons change, I love the freedom, the wind, the hills and mainly the fact that in doing one of the most natural things (aside from breathing) that I’ve created my own antidepressant – endorphins.
Hand in hand with therapy, I would say that sleep and walking have become my ‘how to get out of the mud’ go-tos.