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On Mental Health…

3 weeks ago by

…What are the tools that have helped you the most in your mental health journey? – Helena


Hi Helena !

It is really such a journey, isn’t it.

Since understanding I was depressed and seeking treatment as I described in this post I have finally understood how important mental health is – that is, how fragile. Even more than with physical health, we think that just because we have mental health, it’s always going to be here with us.

Until one day, it fails us.

I will write more about it in the future, as it is one of the most important subjects to me. In the meantime, here are some practical things that really help me every day.

SLEEP

When I finally understood I had sleeping problems – thanks to my psychiatrist, it came as a shock to me, but to no one else. Everyone knew. I was always the first one up, sometimes at the craziest early hours. My sleep is not fixed yet. In stressful times it’s very light and fickle and I wake up tired.

Living tired is the worst thing we can do to ourselves. When I am tired, I am on edge, nervous, I use sugar to keep myself up, coffee, and it’s an internal implosion of stress and fear and despair.

Give me a good night’s sleep and I am a totally different person. Happy, peaceful, my best self.

For the moment, I try to find my best sleep with the help of a few tools.
– Ear plugs.
– A sleeping mask.
– Magnesium. I use Natural Calm and I swear by it.
– Regular hours. I try to get to bed around the same time every night. It’s a challenge, even more with all the travel I am doing, but it works.
– No sugar. It’s a hard one, but the lower my sugar intake, the better I sleep.

FOOD

The hardest one for me. I am a huge emotional eater, and when I emotionally eat, it’s not kale I am looking for, but sugar. And too much sugar gives me anxiety. And anxiety leads to depression… So to me, sugar is the name of the game. Everyone is different, but here are a few rules I try to adhere to. I fall off the bandwagon so often it’s a joke, but I am trying to be courageous and keep at it.
– Intermittent fasting is great for me. I don’t really like breakfast unless it’s tartines with butter and jam (very french, but too much sugar for me, when I eat that I totally crash at 10:30) so I gave it up and I love it. That’s just me! It’s not for everyone.
– As little sugar as possible, and limit carbs (bread, pasta) as well.
– Limit alcohol. Alcohol is sugar, but it’s also hard on my sleep. So, I keep it for special occasions. I know, so boring.

If I do just that, my mood gets better in just a few days. It’s quite amazing how food can change our life.

Also, good food, organic, tasty and cooked with love gives me literal butterflies of happiness in my belly.

EXERCISE

Yup, there again, as boring as can be, but it works. I mix it up, but my favorite for mental health is hot yoga. I always leave class in a totally quiet and happy mood. I think sweating just makes my body and mind happy.

I also dance a lot on my own. I just love music and it elevates my mood. I want to try Zumba, just for the happiness factor!

Oh, and running is my “break the glass in case of emergency” exercise. I don’t do it everyday, but when I am going through a tough time, nothing helps more than a forty minute run (or even ten!) with good music in my earplugs. Sometimes I even cry it out as I am running, and I listen to some sappy anthem song by Pink, and it feels fucking amazing.

THERAPY

Like good old therapy. After moving to LA, I went a little too far on the “healer” side and I think it actually made me lose some of my mental stability. So now I try to be careful even though I still love to look up at the stars, it’s very important for me to have grounding presences around me. My therapist and my psychiatrist work in tandem and I feel great support.

I think that anybody that feels any type of emotional discomfort should at least try therapy. It has helped me along my life in so many incredible ways, I wouldn’t be the person I am today without it.

PLENTY OF OTHER THINGS, LIKE…

Choosing carefully the people I spend time with and prefer time alone than in bad company.

Having a dog.

Picking up a hobby that has absolutely nothing to do with anyone or anything in my life (I am starting horseback riding and I am looking actively for a choir (yes!) to sing in, let me know if you know of one!)

Reading novels. Taking a break from myself is amazing. After spending years reading self-help books, I know that I feel better because unless they’re exceptional, I am incredibly bored when I pick them up. But give me a good novel and aaaah, you won’t hear from me for a few days!

Also, cleaning my house with loud music (de-cluttering my closet is a big one) talking with my sister every morning, jumping in the ocean, meeting new people, breaking my own rules (having a glass of great red wine with a piece of bread and butter)… The list goes on forever and each little part is very important to keep my balance.

But honestly, sleep, man.

If people would go back to sleeping, the world would be a better place.

xo
G

31 comments

Add yours
  • Where is the “like”, no, the “love” button? This is a great post, Garance!

  • Sleep, YES. Novels, YES YES YES. If you want to be in another world, try A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles, or Arcadia by Iain Pears. Or in a completely different way, Fair and Tender Ladies by Lee Smith.

    And poetry: Mary Oliver, William Carlos Williams, Emily Dickinson, Sharon Olds, Maxine Kumin, Theodore Roethke, WH Auden, and millions more. It unhooks your brain in a good way.

    Art in general: go down the rabbit hole of museums, galleries. Music: try classical instead of a constant beat, Bach (St Matthew Passion and cello suites), Mozart, Beethoven late quartets, Saariaho, Britten Sea Interludes, Debussy orchestral pieces. Ravel L’enfant et les sortileges! Pelham Humfey verse anthems.

    And also yes to a good therapist. It can be a necessary tool when you need it. I’m glad you are in good hands, G.

  • Christina November, 24 2018, 4:47

    You, Ms. Mouse, are rad.

  • Love your list!

  • excelent, honest, and authentic as always, than you garance for sharing your expercience! it is reaaaally helpfull!

  • Sleep really relax you a lot!
    Make a habit of Exercise and outing.
    For the outing purpose, I am sharing https://www.turkeynamaa.com

  • Bonjour Garance, c’est la question de la chorale qui m’y fait penser… Je n’ai aucune chorale à te conseiller à Los Angeles, et j’espère que tu vas en trouver une super, mais cela me rappelle un truc qui me tarabuste depuis des années que je te lis (époque les ballerines Alaia de chez Texto). Je ne veux pas être intrusive, mais est-ce que tu vas à l’église quelquefois ? Parce que quand on a essayé les shamans et les guérisseurs, à moins bien sûr d’être née dans un tipi, ce serait dommage de ne pas fréquenter une paroisse, je veux dire au moins pour essayer… Ça peut être un hobby qui n’a rien à voir avec le reste de ta vie :D
    Je ne peux pas imaginer ma vie sans la foi, et comme je te lis depuis des années, tu es dans mes prières, spécialement dans les moments difficiles, comme cette dépression.

  • Hi Marie,
    I understand French and could respond in French. I apologize for lazy English instead! I think your suggestion is perfectly apt and you said it so gracefully. Rediscovering my Catholic faith got me through recent difficulties. There is so much beauty in the major world religions and I particularly love choosing the one I was brought up in for the family history and link to the past. It brings beauty, comfort, ritual and all the best answers to life’s questions. Bravo Marie, very good suggestion!

  • Such a great post Garance! Thank you for reminding us again such “little” but nontheless crucial things… People often forget to get healthy basis. These are all we need to feel our best!

  • Un post qui fait reflechir.
    Surtout ne pas s’oublier, penser a soi ( non, ce n’est pas de l’egoisme :-)

  • Very interesting read – thank you! It’s a good remind to incorporate all these things in to day to day life.

    I started exercising three times a week recently. i did it for vanity purposes, but i couldnt believe how much better my headspace has been. i really got used to being stressed and just accepted that it was my lot of picking a stressful career (law!), but since these little workouts i’m feeling this strange and new sensation of calm. and the next day i can actually think clearly, and find myself being nicer to my colleagues. Wow. Who knew it was as simple as lifting a few weights for 45 minutes!

  • I just said the same thing about sleep. It can make the world seem a better, calmer and more approachable place. I’m grateful for your honesty about depression. It’s a hard one to face, especially after hitting forty and wanting to feel wise about oneself.

  • Once again, thank you so much Garance for sharing your experience with us, it is so helpful !!

  • Dormir dormir dormir…
    Je ne pensais pas que cela était si important. Puis ma petite fille est née il y a 8 mois, et j’ai appris à dormir autant que possible pour me remettre d’une naissance difficile, et de laisser certaines choses de coté, me faire aider, pour dormir le plus possible. J’ai souvent l’impression de “perdre du temps” car je sacrifie aussi le temps que je dois à mon boulot, mais je m’arrange comme je peux, car je privilégie mon repos pour moi-même et ma santé mentale, ce qui est positif pour ma fille et son papa :) Ça veut dire renoncer à certaines choses mais ça en vaut la peine! Donc finalement je ne dors pas si peu que ça pour avoir un enfant en bas âge, mais pas encore très bien car entrecoupé de réveils. Ça ira en s’améliorant, en attendant je prends ce que je peux et accepte bien volontiers de faire des siestes en journée en même temps qu’elle! Je me remettrai au sport plus tard ;) Sur ce, bon dimanche, ici on trainera en pyjama!

  • Thank you so so much Garance! You are the most inspiring.

    Lots of love,
    Helena

  • Thank you so much for this post. Just the right moment for me, since I am at the verge of breaking apart. Definitely novels, I always keep Virginia Woolf’s To the Lighthouse in my pocket. Right now Elif Safak’s Three daughters of Eve make me forget the stress of the week with Christmas on the horizon. All the best to all of you out there, especially you, dear Garance. Hope everyone can make the end of this year better and kinder .

  • Garance, I was many times lost in what you are writing but last days you are simple and clear. You started to be you, thanks God.
    To prefer to be alone than in bad company, I would sign this. It`s the most important to be with yourself, than to play kind of masquerade (read, social role) outside. It`s happiness of over 40 age to find it.

  • This is so good, especially the extras like horse riding and choir…and the emphasis on sleep

  • 100% with Garance on this one!

    Regular cardio exercise is actually more effective at fighting severe depression than anti-depressants are. This is not to say that anti-depressants are not useful, or that you shouldn’t get the help you need if you are struggling with depression. But, if you are, regular sleep and exercise are a really good step in the right direction :)

  • “Choosing carefully the people I spend time with and prefer time alone than in bad company.” This one helped me the most when I was going through a rough patch in my life. It may be said too much, but it’s true, you are a product of your environment. The day I decided to sift out the cool,funny, but kind of jerky people from the ones who were undoubtedly kind, my life got instantly better.

  • Jorge Alexandre Teixeira November, 26 2018, 2:31 / Reply

    *_*

  • I love, love, love this post. Thank you! I found meditation very helpful. Even 2-3 minutes of just being still allows me to shake off any waves of anxiety. And I am here with you – lack of sleep is the worst. Thank you for the tip about sugar!

  • Excellent Garance. thank you.
    What is your sleep routine?
    I am in a debate with my husband to put a TV in the bedroom. I hate the idea! but it helps him sleep (in this case he is the one with anxiety and bad sleep).
    I have tried to incorporate white noise to our sleep routine, vaporizer/humidifier in the room with relaxing aromatherapy, chamomile tea before bed..etc but it does not really work.

    Anyway! thank you for sharing !!

  • Je ne comprends pas, je n’ai plus le site en Français… C’est embêtant moi qui ne pipe mot à l’anglais. =/

  • Linne Halpern November, 27 2018, 2:04

    Bonjour! Notre traductrice a pris des vacances (bien méritées!), mais la version française du site sera disponible à nouveau dans les jours à venir, promis! xx Linne

  • La version française ne fonctionne pas sur ce post ? Merci d’avance.

  • Linne Halpern November, 27 2018, 2:04

    Bonjour! Notre traductrice a pris des vacances (bien méritées!), mais la version française du site sera disponible à nouveau dans les jours à venir, promis! xx Linne

  • Hi Garance!

    Are you still looking for a choir? I have one that I’d like to recommend! I’m guessing it may be too much info to post in a public forum, but you can email me if you’re interested in the details!

    Good luck in your choir search! -J

  • Je suis tout à fait d’accord ! Bien dormir (ce dont j’ai encore du mal), bien manger (ça c’est OK, je vis à la montagne et les bons produits bio et locaux ne manquent pas), pas trop de sucre (c’est aussi mon groooos point faible) et faire du sport pour évacuer le trop plein d’énergie (je me suis mise au basket depuis un peu plus d’un mois et je suis absolument passionnée ! Mes 2 entrainements par semaine sont ma soupape de décompression).

  • Oui dormir dormir j aimerais tant pour ne pas me réveillée fatiguée comme si j étais passée sous un camion ! Et pourtant pour moi pas de sucre une alimentation très équilibrée avec produits bio . Suivie par plusieurs thérapeutes ils ne savent plus quoi faire pour moi, le micronutritionniste me dit que je dois apprendre à m aimer ! Et que tt ira mieux ! Je ne sais plus qui croire et quoi faire car chaque jour est un combat pour me sentir mieux. Je fais du sport footing renfo avec un préparateur physique du pilote et du yoga , si quelqu’ un à une solution je veux bien ! Garance je comprends ce que tu vis car moi aussi j ai fait une dépression en janvier de cette année enfin elle avait commencé en 2017 après 2 opérations qui m ont complètement mise à terre . Je pense qu’ il faut beaucoup de temps pour s en remettre et oui important de s entourer de gens positifs sinon il vaut mieux être seul ! Bisous bon courage et belles fêtes Véronique

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