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In honor of Sexual Assault Awareness Month, here are some important self-care tips for when things become too much.

For those suffering from acute or long-term post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and depression, there are often times when these become so overwhelming that it can be difficult to even accomplish the basic functions of daily living. Often we end up in such vicious cycles post-trauma that we are unable to do simple things for ourselves like bathing or cooking, so we end up feeding and prolonging our bouts of PTSD and/or depression. In honor of Sexual Assault Awareness Month, here are some important self-care tips for when things become too much.

1) Get some rest

Notice I don’t say get sleep, because sleeping can be tricky during these times, and we can get upset by the fact that we can’t sleep. Instead of worrying about sleeping, make sure you spend a few hours everyday in a dark room with your eyes closed practicing some deep, soothing breaths. Even if you aren’t asleep, doing this gives your eyes and body a small break. I also find that melatonin or valerian supplements can help me get at least a few hours of uninterrupted sleep. Weighted blankets are also a great investment.  

2) Drink water

We cannot survive without water, it is essential to stay hydrated. I know that the simple action of making the effort to get a glass of water can be enough to not do so, so I recommend keeping bottles around your home, in different rooms. Set a timer to go off at least every hour to remind you to have a glass.

3) Add extra fiber to your diet

Depression and stress mess with our digestive system big time. Comfort foods can also be difficult to digest. Daily fiber supplements like psyllium husk and probiotics can help keep things moving. Also, green smoothies made with protein powder and nut milks can give you a great boost of fiber, phytonutrients, enzymes, and protein so at least your insides can run smoothly. Being constipated only makes emotional issues worse. Let that shit go. Literally.

4) Plan your meals

Whether this is using a delivery service (if you can afford to) or doing a big round of shopping to prep your meals for a week, having food in the house that requires minimal preparation can be a godsend. It only requires that one day of cooking or prep, and it takes out that element of worrying what you will have to eat. Depending on your stress-relievers, the act of prepping and cooking can be quite relaxing. 

5) Cleanse yourself

Like being constipated, being dirty can add to our feelings of hopelessness and despair. A long hot shower or bath can help us wash away not just the grime of the day, but it can also wash away layers of emotional upset. Still, and especially if it’s really cold, the idea of getting soaked feels like a nightmare. Basic bathing, with gentle and non-toxic wipes or a hot washcloth can be the next best thing. If you notice that this is one of the harder things for you to manage when your PTSD/depression is flaring up, consider installing a bidet on your toilet so at least your nether regions stay clean. These bidets can fit underneath your toilet seat or can be a handheld attachment you stick to the wall next to the commode. They aren’t expensive or difficult to install, and can make a world of difference.
Related: POST-RAPE RESOURCES DON’T HELP TRANS WOMEN, BUT THEY COULD

Memes are a valid form of expression and they can help us articulate the difficult, and often stigmatized, effects of depression.

By Han Angus Memes in 2017 are a form of communication. We laugh with memes, we cry with memes and we express our annoyance with memes. I have over 500 of them saved on my phone for a variety of reasons and occasions. One day I may need a Tiffany Pollard meme to tell everyone that I am in fact THAT BITCH and the next I may want to use one of an animated character with seemingly randomized emoji hearts placed all over the place to indicate my love for someone. Memes are incredibly versatile not only in what they mean, but how they are used.  People can use memes to express emotions or facial expressions that are limited by the languages we are using. That’s why they’ve become a coping mechanism for many online suffering from depression. I’ve suffered from depression from the age of 12, I’m not quite sure what brought it on as there was both a family history of mental health issues and I experienced bullying throughout my teens, but it got worse with age. I have been a Twitter user since 2013, and witnessed the change of the platform as well as how our collective content started to lean more towards openness and the de-stigmatization of poor mental health. Jokes about being depressed have always existed but when I tried to make one in 2015, I was told I was making a mockery of those who actually suffer from the illness as if my experiences were not valid because I wanted to take a lighthearted approach to dealing with what was so deeply troubling me. In order to not upset people I refrained from doing it again. Looking back it is clear that it was one of few outlets I had to speak about my mental health. My twitter persona had somewhat shifted during after that, I was always been a stan account (an online account for fans of celebrities, shows or movies), however, I outgrew it when I became 16. I had tried to be friends with more liberal or leftist people, however, they had no regard for my mental health and bullied me off my account to the point I had started experience episodes of deeper depression which affected my sleeping and eating habits. I was barely going out, I gained weight and I stopped socializing with my friends unless I was forced to go out. As a psychology student I knew I was depressed but I was under the impression that I couldn’t name it for what it was without a doctor, which I eventually resolved to do this year.
Related: HOW MY KITTENS SAVED MY FAMILY’S MENTAL HEALTH

Filipino culture holds a heavy stigmatization towards mental health — it is either ignored entirely, or minimized and mocked.

“Why, are you mentally ill?” My mom asked, the sarcasm dripping and oozing from her voice. I’d just handed her an article called “Cats Are the Unsung Heroes of Mental Health” to support why I wanted – no, needed to adopt a kitten into our household. “Yes, mom, I am mentally ill,” I bit back, looking her dead straight in the eyes. She knew that I was on medication for my sexual violence-related PTSD and that I’d been seeing a counsellor for over year to treat it. In the version of Filipino culture that my parents raised me on, we dealt with our suffering with laughter and resilience. Naturally, my mom’s ignorance was unsurprising. Filipino culture holds a heavy stigmatization towards mental health — it is either ignored entirely, or minimized and mocked. Anxiety? It’s all in your head. You’re making excuses. Depression? Sleep it off. You’ll get over it. While mental illness in the Philippines is legally protected against discrimination under the Magna Carta for Disabled Persons, the law itself further perpetuates the stigma, using “insanity” as a blanket term to encompass all disorders.
Related: CRAZY TALK: SHOULD I GET AN EMOTIONAL SUPPORT ANIMAL FOR MY MENTAL HEALTH?

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