Some time ago, I wrote about that importance of leaving the house when you have depression or anxiety. I strongly believe that fresh air or a change of scenery can help boost your mood. I totally stand by that advice but I didn’t always follow it myself …
When I was in deep dark depression, leaving the house was the last thing I wanted to do. I forced myself to leave the house but never strayed far from home. A walk in our local forest 2 minutes from home or a walk to our local shop. I haven’t hung out with a couple of my closest friends because it would mean being more than a 30 minute drive from home and that filled me with panic. I haven’t been out shopping by myself for months. The only time I did venture out I had to have Boo with me as then I could focus on parenting and it would make me feel safer. Getting out did help, but I didn’t look forward to it or want to do it. It was something I did because I knew it would help me get better.
On weekends, I would scroll through social media feeds completely dumbfounded that people actually went out. I could not wrap my head around going out while it was so busy. I couldn’t remember a time I had wanted to be part of that social buzz. Stuck in my room, it all seemed a million miles from my reality. I couldn’t even believe I used to enjoy going out in the past – it felt like past me was a totally different person. And that person was gone.
Only she wasn’t gone.
I was just hiding in the corner trying to quietly process my grief and trauma while waves of depression and anxiety washed over me. I needed time.
Lately, the grip of depression has started to lift. After we marked George’s due date, a weight lifted and I was able to let go of some of the tension and pain. The anxiety started to unravel too. Finally my chest has stopped hurting so much. And with this step forward, another great thing has happened: for the second day in a row I have wanted to get out and about.
Yesterday, we went to a garden centre. We didn’t go in – but not because I didn’t want to – Boo was fast asleep and needed her nap. Then today we went out for a walk. It lasted 5 minutes because Boo had the biggest tantrum and refused to wear a coat and hat despite it being baltic so the mission was cut short. But even though the plans didn’t happen as I hoped, I’m just thrilled that I suggested it in the first place. I’m so happy to be able to enjoy family life again! Now we just need to get the timing right so Boo isn’t desperate for a nap and cranky!!
Leaving the house when you are depressed or anxious can seem like the worst idea ever. It seems like a huge effort. It is scary. You are out in the open with all your vulnerabilities. But I strongly believe getting outside has helped me get better. It has been one factor in a number of things I do to make sure I am repeatedly refocusing my thoughts onto the positive and productive. Recovery from mental illness is hard work – and I will have to keep working hard to make sure I now stay healthy. These are habits I will need to keep. So, screaming toddler or not, I’m going to keep pushing myself to leave the house.