How do I get out of a funk? Well, I have a map.
Many of us have been mildly to severely depressed, anxious, or in crisis and all of us have had tough moments. While a therapist or mental health practitioner will give you the best advice on the best health regimen for you, I thought you might find value in knowing some of the ways that I scoop myself out of the darkness.
Shadow (a witchy word meaning the parts of ourselves we try to keep hidden, or that are subconscious) is no place to hang out forever, so sometimes you need a way out.
Follow these steps to create a crisis map for yourself, which is essentially a hub of resources that will remind you of who you are and what you can do for yourself when you are in shadow for too long or too deeply.
Give your crisis map a cute theme and its own page on an app like Trello, where I keep mine. Keep this in an accessible place, somewhere you are likely to go on your phone. When you can muster the hope, you can reach for this map and it will keep things simple for you when you’re bleary-eyed, headachey, and foggy from shadow.
Here is a little peek at my personal crisis map in Trello:
Simply having this map will feel like you have already prepared for the tough moments, and you will feel inspired by the self-love you showed yourself when you created the map.
List any and all things that have helped you in the past when it comes to climbing out of the depths. This is your call for help list.
Think of water, meds, running, deep breaths, going for a coffee, petting a cat, stepping outside, calling someone, watching reruns, magic, sitting at your altar, drinking bubbly water, etc. Healthy to healthy-ish coping mechanisms.
When you need to, find this list and just run your finger down it until you feel the faintest spark of interest or more. Take your time, just focus on doing the thing. That’s it.
Make a mantra list. This list will remind you of your values, worth, and mission when you are feeling stuck in shadow.
Think: “I can do hard things” or “I love myself.” Make a list that you could count on one hand. Repeat one or more of these mantras, over and over
Make a second list that will actually just be a list of names of people you deeply respect. This could be anyone, living or dead, or a divine figure. This list will be a backup or support when you’re feeling too defeated to even say something positive out loud. Just repeat the name of one of the people on that list in order to call on their strength/power/hotness, whatever you need at the moment.
Make an ancestor list. These are nonliving beings who are your spirit guides and protectors. All of my grandparents are my guides, for example. I can turn to them in thought whenever I choose.
Make a list of all of the people you can call if you are feeling down.
Add professionals as well as loved ones and friends to the list.
Add emergency numbers and hotlines. It really sucks to search for these when you are in need. Even just writing “999” down on a list is a good reminder.
Make sure the top loved ones on your list are on your “favorites” list in your contacts. You want these people to be highly accessible.
Make copies of this list of contacts and give the list to your in-case-of-emergency contact or the top people on your call-for-help list.
Let the people on your list know that they are on your crisis map list, and let them know you may call when you are down.
Thank them for being so important to you. Remember to offer to be on their map, too, if that feels appropriate.
Ask the people on this emergency list to describe your best traits, or maybe find a text message or card that has meant a lot. Keep the awesome things other people have said to you about you—the ones that matter—on another list on your map. These are things that will remind you that you are not only loved but respected for who you are.
Make a list of traits you like about yourself. Pick at least ten things. Do this when you are in the best place you could be. I am often the most confident in the morning when I am drinking coffee and putting on eye makeup, so I wrote this list around that time of day.
Make a list of all of the things you enjoy doing.
Include the big and little things—anything from traveling to experimenting with popcorn toppings.
Try to leave compulsive behaviors like plucking your eyebrows or smoking weed off the list. Those will be obvious to you. Remind yourself of the other things that are or could be available to you.
Give yourself time to develop this list. This is the pleasure-building aspect of your map.
This is your “what do I do now?” list.
Make a music playlist or two. The last thing you need to do when you are in shadow is to go on social media or any other endless scrolling platform and lose yourself further. A crisis playlist at the ready comes in extremely handy in my experience.
An angry/”bordering on out of control” playlist and another for when you are feeling sad is a good mix. Another for when you need to “get it out” like dance music.
NOTE: do not fill the angry playlist with angry songs. Fill it with peaceful songs. Do not fill the sad playlist with sad songs. Fill it with music that moves sadness through and out of your body, perhaps a playlist that includes a bunch of songs about overcoming heartache.
After things have died down, take some time with your Tarot cards to help your brain build understanding around any crisis event, and if you’re still depressed, consult the cards when you’re in a calm state. Meditation should at least temporarily lift a bit of the depression veil so that you can read cards more attentively and with more openness in the mind and heart.
The card below is part of my in-progress deck, the Sextile Oracle, and what follows is a poem that accompanies this card. This deck will provide support and healing energy through poetry, layers, and color.
I knew you when
You were well
We were unwell together
Fun back then
not hard like now
Under the sun and skies we tripped
And discovered ourselves
Outside of our bodies
Years back that was
twice more have passed
I meet you and know that
You haven’t come back
But I have
That I didn’t stay and fix you
But I would have been
Broken by you
I choose life
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