I was thinking about this time of year when I lived in New York City. The months of January,February and March were hard for me. I didn't go out much and even when I was working or back in school, I had a hard time pushing through the darkness of those months. 

As time went on I found ways to cope with it, but it was still tough on me emotionally. When you have mental illness, there is always a fine line with triggers because some are big and some are small.

What is a trigger? Well, it's a thing or even person that triggers your depression, anxiety, and other trait of your illness.  The weather can be tricky. The winter for me is something that can trigger my depression. Also, worrying about being depressed triggers my anxiety. A vicious circle.

To maintain your mental health when you have mental illness is very tricky. I say that because you are always adjusting your life in some way. Whether it be with medications, exercise, therapy, and journaling etc.  It can be a very slippery slope and you have to really acknowledge your environment and how it is working or not working for you. 

We can say the big triggers like death, financial problems, physical illness, Menstrual Cycles and Menopause are easily identified. It's the small triggers that can also impact your mental illness just as much.  

Small triggers for me can be a comment someone has made, something I read in the news or in a book. It can also be my computer not working properly, the negative conversation I may be having with myself or someone else. It could be my husband's OCD or my daughter going through something with a friend or at school.

How can you protect yourself from triggers? Well, you can't always...because life happens. You can have plans in place for the big things.  It's the small triggers that are the hardest. 

So, this is where you have to look at your environment, both physically and mentally. I know that living in the cold weather is very bad for my depression. People can also be bad for my depression, especially negative and paranoid people. Life is about choice, so we get to chose who we want as our friends and soul mate. Family can be tough, but there are ways to avoid certain topics or people.

Identifying your triggers is a coping mechanism that can transform your mental illness. It's a way of being highly aware that for the most part people don't do in their lives. With this awareness comes many gifts. You become accepting of your illness. You have a way of maintaining mental stability and with that confidence comes. Also, you don't become a victim of your illness, but an active participant in maintaining your mental health. 

All of this was a major breakthrough for me! Especially the acceptance that I have mental illness and I can manage it in a way that I can maintain my illnesses and have a very joyful and productive life.

Love & Peace




Barb Silverberg said…
Gina, your column really spoke to me. Not only the darkness of the long winter months, but the darkness of Covid. Sending love to all of you!
Rosanna Russell said…
I was also commenting to a friend how tough these grim, dreary months are for me, and how I'm vigilant to feeling depressed, trying to keep active, and connected to people, which helps a lot (if you live alone, like me, it takes effort!). Identifying the more subtle triggers, other than the winter blues, for example, really can be tricky, but as we do, we get to know ourselves on a much deeper level, and can choose, as you said, coping strategies. Your writing is so good! Thank you for sharing yourself!