When we’re very distressed, it’s difficult to think rationally and to decide what to do/how to help ourselves in that moment. It’s easy to resort to self-destructive behaviours, which may “help” us at that moment, but can cause other problems later and in the long-term. Worse, it can sometimes be easy to fall into our suicidal thoughts.
It can be really useful to keep an “Emergency” or “Soothe” box, in a handy place, so that when you’re feeling overwhelmed/distressed, you can go to your box and find something to help you cope/feel better/simply be distracted.
I’m currently on a long term leave from work due to my depression. It got to the point where it was crippling- I couldn’t get through a regular day or feel as if I could even function like a “normal” person. I’ve accepted that I desperately need to do something with myself and I’m now part of what I call “the full meal deal”. I’ve been put onto a few medications, I’m seeing a psychologist and a psychiatrist, and (most importantly) I’m accepting that depression and anxiety a real parts of my life, that they’re not uncommon and that I am the true key to moving down the road of recovery. One of the things recently introduced to me by my psychologist is this Emergency Box and I love it.
We all feel down sometimes and we can all use a little help here and there.
It’s okay. So let you help yourself!
You can use any box, bag or any other container of your choosing and decorate it as you please!
Try to collect items that are meaningful or that you know will be helpful (even just a little). If the item is too big for your container, then maybe use a reminder of that item. I like to use flashcards or sticky notes with whatever item written on it. Be sure to include items that will help soothe your senses:
- Vision: photos, DVDs, books, a picture of a beautiful safe place (or use safe place imagery), reminder for funny or inspiring videos, your mp3 player, or guided meditation.
- Hearing: soothing or music you love on a CD or on your mp3 player, quite/happy place/noise blocking sounds, a list of phone numbers to call or an audio book.
- Smell/Taste: oils, sweets, faourite perfume, a container of coffee beans/ground coffee/tea, or ready to make mix for a baked good.
- Touch: soft and wooly socks, stuffed animal, lotion, massage oil, bubble bath, nail polish or makeup.When you use your items, or you’re doing whatever activity of your choosing, remember to pay attention to your senses. Look around you and notice what you see (colours, shapes, lighting, shadows, movement), what you hear (nature sounds, sounds in the room, sounds near and far), what you smell or taste and what you can touch.
- Activities to help with an outer focus of attention/physical energy:
- Puzzles, video games, items from a hobby or interest, arts and crafts items or kits, a notebook and pen, prompts for a physical activity or an instrument.
- Activities to help make sense of or cope with that you’re thinking/feeling:
- Therapy worksheets, reading, reminders for websites you enjoy or help forums etc, cards with positive statements on them written by you, others, or from here to assist you through the distress.
- When you’re feeling better or more positive, write yourself a letter to keep in the box to read in future distressing times.
- Include a copy of your safety plan.
- Firstly, I decorated it! I used cute stickers (who doesn’t love chibi sea life?), some “HELLO my name is” stickers and drew little do-dads (including positive statements and a hilarious Pokemon drawing that always, at the very least, makes me chuckle.
- I also decorated the inner lid with things for me to see when I first open the box: photos of my friends and loves ones, more stickers and these fortune cookie fortunes I’ve kept in my wallet for years as positive reinforcement.
- Inside the box itself I have, importantly, a sticker that includes phone numbers for my local 24/7 distress line, crisis response team and psychologist. Please, please, please be sure to include something similar in your box! Numbers for crisis lines, someone you trust to talk to in times of trouble etc.
Inside the box itself:
- Sticky tac and tape: so I can add more things to decorate when I feel inspired.
- Coloured markers and black inking pens: also for further decorating or arts/crafts.
- Play-Doh: it’s fun to play with and a distraction for my idle hands.
- Hello Kitty Play-Pack: it has stickers, colouring pages and crayons. Great for my inner child!
- Create-a-bracelet kit: something creative to keep my mind occupied.
- Google Play Gift Card: so I can buy games and books for my phone whenever I please.
- Tea packets, instant soup packets and dark chocolate: comfort food is my weakness.
- Animal Crossing: Wild World for the 3DS: it’s happy, cute and time consuming.
- Blank note cards and envelopes: to write positive notes, as well as get my loved ones to write notes to me so I can seal them and open them during my times of distress.
- An note card with reasons to stay: for when I’m feeling extremely low and my suicidal tendencies surface. Also for moment I’m feeling lighter so I can write more reasons in there as the days go on.
- Tart Card deck: I love reading tart cards; they occupy my mind.
- Container holding sentimental jewellery: they bring happy memories that help me feel a bit better.
- Empty notebooks: I can write positive notes to myself or mini letters, quotes, etc etc.
- A baggy filled with tabs with random activities written on them: if I feel like I don’t know what to do with myself, the tabs can help me choose. Some examples in there include: Netflix, go for a walk, take a bubble bath, have a nap.
- Folder of therapy worksheets given to be by my psychologist: to occupy my mind and work on positive thinking.
- My Safety Plan: if I’m feeling my suicidal tendencies, I have it on hand to remind myself of more activities I can do to calm myself, people I can talk to, more numbers I can call and my main reason I tell myself to live.
- Could You Be Depressed?: a screening to see if you could be depressed (should you have not been diagnosed or if you’re just worried about your mood). This is NOT the end all be all- it’s simple a place you can start if you’re unsure. These results would be good to share with your doctor/healthcare provider.
- Tumblr’s Counselling and Prevention Resources
- Unhelpful Thinking Styles: a list to show us that most of our negative thoughts are linked to very specific unhelpful ways of thinking that often pigeonhole us into our unhappiness. Remember: many, many, many people also think this way and you’re not alone!
- General Basic Self-Help Strategies for Anxiety
- Suicide Prevention: a basic guide to beginning to help anyone you know or believe to be suicidal.
- Need a Hug? The Nicest Place on the Internet
- The Quiet Place
Remember, there are TONS of resources out there available. It’s worth a few moments of time to look into these things. Your mental health is so unbelievably important.
And, lastly, if you’re unsure/scared/curious or anything and feel you dunno who to talk to from the pool of those you know or wary of calling a helpline (hey, I hate talking on the phone, too, sometimes), you are ALWAYS free to drop me a line through my Tumblr. I will never share any of your information or asks unless you say it’s alright/ask me anonymously.