Its fairly common for articles on depression to mention how hard sufferers find it to leave their beds. For me, that is 100% true. While I don’t consider myself to suffer from Major Depressive Disorder (MDD) I do suffer from a milder form, and it comes and goes in dark clouds and waves that I can feel creeping up on me just before I fall down into it’s dark rabbit hole. Not fun. However, even when I am in a better mental place my bed is still incredibly hard to leave a lot of the time. Even when I am going stir-crazy and the walls of my bedroom seem to be closing in on me and all I can think about is getting out of there and actually spending time in other parts of the house, or even *gasps* outside the house, my bed holds me tight and wills me to stay in her familiar embrace.
Why is this? Why is my bed so inviting? There is nothing outwardly special about it, heck I sleep in a king single and most of the time the sheets haven’t been washed for a few months. Gross I know, please don’t judge me I am trying to work on washing them more regularly. It’s a question I have been pondering for a while now though and I think I finally have an answer that I am happy to accept as being true for me.
My bed is my Safe Place.
Now what does that mean exactly? During my Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT) group sessions I discovered that someones Safe Place is where they are completely at ease and protected from harm, both physically and mentally. Your Safe Place can be anything and anywhere. Whether it’s somewhere you go to often, or somewhere from your past, or even just an imaginary location in your mind that you envisage. It can literally be ANYTHING. Not to be mistaken with somewhere you are familiar or used to, but somewhere that you feel completely safe.
During DBT we used to do a mindfulness exercise where we would all close our eyes and bring an image of our Safe Place into the forefront of our mind. We would be encouraged to really bring it to life; What can we see, hear, taste, smell, touch. Make it truly come alive in our minds so that we think we are there. This exercise was designed to be used as a coping mechanism in times of stress. Using this practice, and the more often we did it the easier it was meant to become, when we found ourselves in times of stress we could quickly bring forth this Safe Place in our minds and temporarily, mentally escape whatever harm was happening to us and prevent us from spiraling down.
I never mastered this. I racked my brains every single time we did the exercise and tried to think of what my Safe Place was. And without fail, every single time I came up with a different image to try. Nothing ever felt like it was right though. While others seemed to pick it up so quickly, I struggled and it made me feel like I wasn’t good enough and I wasn’t strong enough, that my internal struggles were too much for me to be able to fight.
But now I realise why. I was in denial about where my Safe Place really is.
Ever since I became self aware of my mental health issues (which I want to say took an incredibly long time because I was never taught about mental health) I considered it such a negative thing that I was so attached to my bed. Not a single article that I read told me it was okay to want to stay in bed and so I built up this misconception in my mind that if I stayed there I was a failure. So every time I struggled I got angry and disappointed in myself, which in turn made those nasty dark clouds hanging over me get darker and darker and darker; and so every time I tried it kept getting harder and I felt worse.
Wanting to stay in bed isn’t always a bad thing.
I understand why they say to get out of bed. But my bed is my Safe Place. And I am NOT a failure if I don’t want to leave it or if I just want to go back to it. Sometimes I just need an escape from the World and my bed is that escape. But I have rules because I know that staying in bed all the time is not the best thing to do, I have read the articles on it after all.
My rules for every day I spend in bed after the first day:
- I have to do 5 minutes of stretching
- I have to read a book and/or watch a meaningful movie (e.g. A documentary, a long motivational video)
- If my room is dirty I have to do ONE thing each day to help clean it
- Blinds must be open, window too if a nice day (sunshine and fresh air does wonders
My bed is my Safe Place and as long as I stick to my rules, I refuse to consider myself a failure for wanting to be there. Besides, with the combination of natural light and motivational videos my rules require, it normally fills me with renewed energy that makes me want to get up and do things.
I would love to know any thoughts or comments you may have, or if you wanted to share what your own Safe Place is, please comment below!