What is a mental health crisis kit? It’s a collection of items packed together that can help you through a personal crisis. They can be as simple, small, extravagant, or as big as you like. Every person struggles with their mental illness in a different way, so everyone will have a different kit that is personalized to them.
Today I am going to share with you what I put in mine. For me, it was important that the kit can be easily moved from purse to purse, and not take up too much room. Some kits I’ve seen have been large and are practically the size of a purse or backpack on their own, and if that works best for you, I support that 100%. We all have to do what feels best.
You may even want to make 2 or more kits, of varying sizes. A larger one to keep at home, and a smaller one to travel with you. One to keep in your car, another for your desk at work. Whatever suits your lifestyle best.
Today I am going to share with you the one I made to keep in my purse/diaper bag, what I have in it and why, and what it looks like.
Headphones – to block out noises when feeling overwhelmed. Some may use earplugs, but I find that headphones look and feel more “normal” and would draw less attention.
Small notebook and pen or pencil – sometimes writing out my thoughts can help me to calm down and stop thinking about the same thing over and over. Especially if it’s something I keep worrying that I will forget. Getting it out onto paper eases my mind. A lot of people will say “well I have my phone and can take notes on that” and yes that’s true, however, sometimes I want to sketch a design idea, plus, doodling can be calming. You also never have to worry about running out of battery with a notebook.
Backup medication – If you’re out and about and begin to feel anxious and suddenly remember you didn’t take your meds that day, it can cause all sorts of bad thoughts to race through your head. Having some on you at all times can alleviate these worries. I also bring a couple of Ativan pills with me for certain high-stress situations, like going on a flight. I’ve never had to take them, but knowing they are with me makes me feel better.
Fidget item – Anything that can keep your hands busy is great to have. It helps you stay grounded and splits your focus from whatever is causing you distress.
Lavender essential oil – The smell is so relaxing to me, and sometimes all I need is a quick whiff. Pick any scent that you find calming and have it with you.
Book – “This book will make you calm” I keep this book in my kit because it has so many useful tips and reminders about Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) techniques. It’s small and easy to carry around.
Photos of my baby and fur-babies. – My phone is full of them, and I often scroll through my camera feed. You may want to add a physical photograph to your kit.
A sheet with numbers to crisis lines and resources. – You never know when you may need them, and having them on hand is better than having to look them up in a moment of crisis.
Lollypops – A boost of sugar and the pleasant taste is always a mood booster. You can use your favourite types of candies.
Gum – A nurse suggested this to me when I was getting a vaccine. I always faint after getting a shot because I have a panic attack. She told me that the act of chewing sends a signal to your brain that you’re eating, and therefore safe. I thought that was a load of baloney but decided to try it to humour her. I was worried about swallowing the gum if I fainted but she said she would get the gum out of my mouth if I fainted. Well, I didn’t have that problem and it was the first time I ever had a vaccine without fainting in God knows how long! Since then, I’ve chewed gum while going for bloodwork and any other anxiety-provoking situations and found it immensely helpful.
What do you keep in your mental health crisis kit? Do you have one? I’d love to hear from you.