Recently I've found an interesting blog post with self-care questions to ask during depression or suicidal ideation. The author, Sinope, has been seeing therapists and taking medications for depression for a long time. A list of 16 questions she wrote to herself went viral on the Internet.
Being a therapist, I must say this checklist is really good for crisis management. It includes questions about physical factors, psychological factors and social factors which can affect one's state. There is also a good piece of advice for different personality types.
- Are you hydrated? If not, have a glass of water.
- Have you eaten in the past three hours? If not, get some food -- something with protein, not just simple carbs. Perhaps some nuts or hummus?
- Have you showered in the past day? If not, take a shower right now.
- If daytime: Are you dressed? If not, put on clean clothes that aren't pajamas. Give yourself permission to wear something special, whether it's a funny T-shirt or a pretty dress.
- Have you stretched your legs in the past day? If not, do so right now. If you don't have the spoons for a run or trip to the gym, just walk around the block, then keep walking as long as you please. If the weather's crap, drive to a big box store (e.g., Target) and go on a brisk walk through the aisles you normally skip.
- Have you cuddled a living being in the past two days? If not, do so. Don't be afraid to ask for hugs from friends or friends' pets. Most of them will enjoy the cuddles too; you're not imposing on them.
- Do you feel ineffective? Pause right now and get something small completed, whether it's responding to an email, loading up the dishwasher, or packing your gym bag for your next trip. Good job!
- Have you seen a therapist in the past few days? If not, hang on until your next therapy visit and talk through things then.
- Have you been over-exerting yourself lately -- physically, emotionally, socially, or intellectually? That can take a toll that lingers for days. Give yourself a break in that area, whether it's physical rest, taking time alone, or relaxing with some silly entertainment.
Together with my volunteer team I worked on the list a little bit. We made a nice infographic of it and even filmed a video on YouTube to spread the information.
Of course these questions won't apply fully to everyone and this is not a cure. You still need to take medication or to call your therapist or to do some other stuff. But it's a really good thing to get started. You are stronger than you think. Get better soon!
If you -- or someone you know -- need help, please call 1-800-273-8255 for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. If you are outside of the U.S., please visit the International Association for Suicide Prevention for a database of international resources.
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