five second rule

How I got out of my latest funk

TRIGGER WARNING: Anxiety, Depression, Suicidal Ideation.

Earlier this week I was in a bad place. A deep, dark hole of misery and self-pity. I was wallowing. Despite knowing all the strategies I could use to get myself out of my slump, I just couldn’t seem to break free. I was aware of the negative self-talk tape that was on repeat in my mind, but I couldn’t re-write it. Usually I’m pretty healthy but my body was craving stodgy food, sugar and alcohol and there was no way I was going to bother exercising. I was constantly on the brink of tears and I was becoming snappy. I was snowballing towards suicidal ideation and I knew I had to break the cycle before it got too dangerous. I’ve been there before and it’s hard to come back from that place.

My partner and I had a podcast interview to record at night and I really wasn’t in the mood, but it was important, so despite my anxiety about messing it up I committed and we went through with interviewing Faustina Agolley. I’d worked with her in my twenties and I remember her being incredibly effervescent and confident. I was mesmerised by her in those days. More recently I’d become aware of her struggles with anxiety and I was intrigued for a different reason. For someone who suffered from anxiety she’d achieved an awful lot. Looking at my own history of success it seemed a bit lacklustre in comparison. I would advise anyone against comparing themselves to others, but here I had an opportunity to get curious and to find out some answers. I asked Faustina how she overcomes her anxiety and she introduced me to the work of Mel Robbins.

The next day, when I was still feeling a bit crappy I did a little googling and discovered a Ted Talk by Mel. It was a massive wake up call and although it was confronting to have such a kick up the butt, it was exactly what I needed. After beginning to implement the strategies that Mel talks about, like the 5 second rule, I felt my mood transform. So I’ll just leave this video below for anyone who’s in need of a bit of a nudge…

I’d also realised that my “to do” list was making me feel pressured, rather than productive. I’m a natural problem solver and since I was feeling a little more motivated I had a think about how to transform my “to do” list into a more helpful tool. I was well aware of all the jobs I needed to do and I had them all written down, so instead of adding to the list and crossing them off like I normally did, I decided to write a new list of the things I managed to get done during the day. I committed to also writing down the little things, to give the everyday tasks credit too, because being in such a slump, even getting out of bed was a small miracle. I spoke to my friend later that night and she told me she’d started writing a “Ta Dah” list… the exact same thing I’d thought of, but with a way cooler name (thank you divine intervention!). Here’s my list from my first productive day…

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Aside from these two important steps I also had extensive chats with my partner and one of my mentors about what I was going through. I can’t stress enough how important it is to have supportive people in your life. Those who will help to build you up when you’re feeling down. People who will really listen but also ask the right questions and get curious about what’s going on. When you’re feeling vulnerable, those who can empathise with you, as well as walk beside you whilst you search for a way to move forward, are like pure gold.

I also shared my experience on social media in the hopes that others who might be going through a rough time would know they weren’t alone. I often fall into the trap of sharing only the highlights so I figured it was a good opportunity to let people know that I’m human and have shitty days too. I don’t want anyone putting me on a pedestal or thinking I’m even close to perfect. I had a bunch of messages from friends and acquaintances offering support, solidarity and just generally checking in on me. In a world where there’s so much divisiveness and disconnection, it’s great to know you’re not alone, that there’s still community out there. And by sharing our vulnerabilities we allow that connection (thanks Brene Brown).

*Obviously I watched more than just one Mel Robbin’s video, so here’s another that I found really useful…