First Day Fears

I’m Going Back, But I’m Not Better

My anxiety is ramping up each day this week. From Thursday onwards, I’ve noticed a distinct uptick in those anxious feelings. I’m more forgetful (I left my keys in the supermarket!) It doesn’t seem to take a lot to knock me backwards and the scratching of my hands has resumed at a frenzied rate. Why? Because I’m going back to work next week even though I’m not fully better. My head is going crazy with first day fears even though I’m returning to a job I’ve done for 16 years.

The Coming Weeks

Oddly I’ve decided to put this experience to good use. For the next few weeks I’m going to be sharing with you what this going back to work experience is like. From the first day fears, to me being back at full speed and everything in between. I want to share all of this with you, whether I’m successful or not. It’s a journey many of you are going to have to take at some point. Depression and anxiety can severely impact on our work attendance, some people have months off or even never return to work because of mental health issues.

I’ve decided to go back after a lengthy absence. I feel I’m improved enough that with some help from my employer that I can do this. I need to from a financial stand point, but also from the point of view of my recovery. It’s time to face this challenge, because if I don’t do it now I never will.

Facing Down First Day Fears

So what is kicking the anxiety off? I know the people I work with, I know the job inside out. It’s the same building I’ve been going to for years. I’m not scared of any of these things, parts of me are even looking forward to seeing friends I haven’t seen for months. What exactly am I so anxious about?

My current biggest fear is me. Or more precisely my mental health. I don’t cope well with crowds or loud environments and the office I work in has an abundance of both. The fear is that I’ll walk in, not be able to cope and end up back at square one. This fear is nagging at me, I don’t want to go backwards. But there is that risk.

So what do we do?

Well I’m taking the risk. I’m going back and facing down those first day fears head on. My boss is prepared as he can be, he knows that I’m not good with noise so he’s arranged for a desk in a quieter wing of the office. Colleagues are being made aware to try to not bombard me (a common problem when people return from absence in my office). For me, I’ve made as many arrangements as i can to make it easy as possible.

Preparations

So here goes. Here’s my list of what I’m doing to get myself ready as possible. My thinking is if I share it with you it will help me follow through with everything. Plus you never know, it might help someone else too!

  • Make the first journey as easy as possible. To do this I’m making sure the car is clean and tidy inside. I’ve arranged that someone else is going to take the kids to school so that stress is removed for now. I’ve made a playlist of relaxing music as well. Car will be fuelled and checked over.
  • Get my stuff together. I’ve already chosen and hung up my clothes ready for the day. Lunch will be prepped the night before and everything I will need will be in my bag. ( sicknotes, letters from counselor, return to work note, pass and fidget spinner)
  • Treat myself.  Have a relaxing bath the night before. Take a small bar of chocolate with me on the day. Make dinner as easy as I can for the day (slow cooker, ready meal or if all else fails, takeaway).
  • Prepare for the worst, hope for the best. This one may sound odd, but it’s what I’m doing. I’m going for counselling the day before to try to get some of the worst things out and get some strategies for coping set in place.  My partner is going to have his phone to hand in case it gets really bad on the day. I also have talked things through with my boss about the most scary concerns I have and he’s doing what he can to help me cope.
Ready, Set….

So, for me I’m looking at phased return , amended duties, a quieter environment to sit and getting occupational health involved to make this process as smooth as possible. My boss is fully aware that I may need to step away from the office, I may lose my speech when stressed or begin scratching. One of my closest friends at work has already said they’ll be on hand if I need some help, even if it’s just to make me laugh or wind me up.

All in all, I think I’m as ready as I can be. I’ll let you know how it goes next week, what’s worked, what hasn’t etc. Here’s hoping I haven’t crashed and burned! If you are facing this challenge too I wish for you that it goes well.  It’s scary as anything facing down those first day fears, but I think with a little bit of preparation it won’t be as bad as you or I think.

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Become a PatronDisclaimer: I am not an expert, nor am I medically qualified.  This blog is based on my personal experiences only.  Always seek medical advice in the first instance.

Dirty Little Secret

What Makes You So Uncomfortable?

One thing Alex and I have received commentary on is the image we use for our Understanding Self-Harm page. We’ve had a few people comment that they fear it will be triggering, that the sight of someone’s arms with healed scars will encourage them to cut. The interesting thing is these comments have not come solely from sufferers, they have predominantly come from people with little to no experience of mental health.  The sufferers I have spoken to both on social media and the real world have said that an image like that was NOT triggering at all. It didn’t encourage the need to cut. If anything, it showed that you can get to a point where the cuts will heal. Cutting can stop. So the dirty little secret seems to be that it’s not because of a fear of triggering. People don’t like the image because it makes them uncomfortable.

The Dirty Little Secret

I have self-harm scars. There, I’ve said it. I have scars on my stomach, arms and legs that I inflicted upon myself when my mental health was in a pretty poor state.  My recovery is happening day by day, with the help of medication despite a woeful lack of contact from my therapist. (I haven’t had a session with her since November due to her cancelling) In that time I’ve had two instances of self-harm and whilst that sounds bad, neither relapse was as serious as previously.  I’ve been able to get past them with the support of Alex and my family. But my scars are very visible if I’m not vigilant in keeping them covered.

And I do. I hide them from everyone if I can, even from the man I love and who loves me. It’s not from a fear of triggering someone (my partner has had issues with self-harm too), but from the stigma and judgement that arises when people encounter self-harm scarring. Self harm is now a dirty little secret. I hide how my depression has manifested because of the reactions from others. My previous partner would make me feel guilty, shout at me and generally make me humiliated that I’d harmed myself. When I should have been treated with understanding and care, I was treated with anger and disgust.

Image result for dirty little secret self harm

Why Do People Judge?

As a society people are not good with difference. There is an ingrained aversion to anything that does not conform as what we think of as ‘normal’.  There is a prevalent (and worrying) trend for a certain type of body image. Whether it’s ripped abs or being a size 6 with DD breasts, there is increasing pressure from media of all forms to appear a certain way. And scars do not fit in with that.

I’ll give you an example; look at the picture below. It was circulated on  Facebook as the woman featured had chosen rather than undergo painful reconstructive surgery after a double mastectomy, to have a beautiful tattoo celebrating that she survived breast cancer.  This picture of her breast-less, tattooed body was posted and very quickly there was a backlash. People complained that it was obscene, gross, wrong and Facebook responded by getting the picture removed.

Image result for mastectomy tattoos

Why Exactly?

There is an almost daily stream of semi-nudity (in some cases full nudity) of numerous celebrities. That’s ok, but someones survival of breast cancer is not? The truth of this dirty little secret is society doesn’t like to be reminded of illness. Whether it’s cause is mental, disease based or genetic, there are people who cannot bear to see the physical manifestations of illness.

In the same way some cancer sufferers wear a wig to hide their hair loss, self-harmers cover their scars because of the judgement and embarrassment they face from the world. We are ill. Self harm is a physical symptom of mental health problems. I have never come across a true sufferer of depression  where the need to hurt themselves was instigated by an image of someone else’s scars. What drives you to pick up a blade, or scratch or any other method is within you. It can be a need for self destruction, self-hatred, a release from anxiety or from numbness. It is NOT because you’ve seen some scars.

So maybe we need to look at it this way. An image is not triggering. It’s just making you uncomfortable to see something that you’d prefer didn’t exist. But depression, anxiety, self-harm; they all exist and pretending they don’t is just as harmful to sufferers as if you’d handed them the blade yourself.

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Become a PatronDisclaimer: I am not an expert, nor am I medically qualified.  This blog is based on my personal experiences only.  Always seek medical advice in the first instance.

It’s Not You, It’s Me

It Really Is

This is one of these cliche phrases, usually trotted out during a break up. It’s a phrase meant to be a balm when you’re hurting someone. “It’s not you, it’s me”, usually means it is you but the person saying it is too chicken to say so. The phrase has become so over-used it’s become ironic. But where our friends and family and our mental health are concerned, its true. It’s really not you, it’s me.  Not sure what I’m getting at? Let me explain.

I Don’t Mean to Hurt You

So often when depression and anxiety and other mental health issues impact a person, it becomes increasingly difficult for them to get out and about. Sometimes leaving your home becomes impossible. Social events? Forget it. The sheer enormity of dealing with people is just too much. Alex suffers like this. I do too sometimes. We shut ourselves away, we cancel on friends and family. We just can’t do it. The tendency will be to beat ourselves up about it, we will be plagued with guilt. But there are times that no matter how much we care for the people we were meant to see, we just can’t do it.

And it hurts them.

I’ve had it happen to me more than once. I’ve arranged with Alex to do something, try and get us out and about. But the time comes and he just can’t. Either depression or anxiety have consumed him and he cannot get himself out of his home. Oh boy, can that hurt!

It’s Not Personal

No matter how many times that Alex has assured me with the old cliche,’it’s not you, it’s me’ the treacherous voice in my head will come back with me being the cause.  The logical part of my brain knows that the issues Alex experiences due to his mental health can prevent him from going out. I know it isn’t personal. Yet for friends and family it will often feel like it is. I know that because I’ve felt it too. For me, it can kick off the dark voice in my head that tells me how worthless and useless I am. I’m obviously just not worth spending the time with.

But I’m learning to fight back against that instinct. It’s difficult, don’t get me wrong. I need to be reassured because I’ve spent so long being convinced of my own worthlessness. But I am learning that when it comes to mental health the cliche ‘ it’s not you it’s me ‘ is not a cliche at all. It’s the sad reality.

When I Say It’s Not You, It’s Me, I Mean It

That’s the point of this post. If you are supporting a loved one you can end up being hurt because of how their mental health can make them act. Depression and anxiety can make you snappish, irritable, unsociable, reclusive and so much more. We don’t mean or want to be this way. It’s part and parcel of living with these issues, and we are trying every day to overcome them.

There are days when we’re better at it than others. But for friends and family it’s something worth remembering; we don’t mean to hurt you. It’s not you, it’s me.  I and all the sufferers I know want to go to your party, come out for dinner and all the things you want us to be part of. If I’ve cancelled on you or hurt you I am not saying that it’s okay. But I’d hope you’d understand and maybe when the time is right we can talk about it. I don’t want to be ruled by my depression or my anxiety, nor is it an excuse if I’ve hurt you. I’d give anything not to be like this, as would many of the sufferers I know.  We’re sorry. Just don’t let that hurt turn you away, because every sufferer of depression, anxiety and all the other mental illnesses, needs the people who care about them. Your support is invaluable, so don’t let the illness push you away from the person.

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Become a PatronDisclaimer: I am not an expert, nor am I medically qualified.  This blog is based on my personal experiences only.  Always seek medical advice in the first instance.

Twitter is not a Dating Website

I Repeat, Twitter is not a Dating Website

I apologise in advance to all our genuine readers and followers on here, but I am going to be on a bit of a rant here. For those of you who genuinely get in touch for mental health support for yourself or a loved one, this does not apply to you. Though I would love to hear from you on this particular topic too! It’s regarding a trend that seems common across Twitter, that some individuals seem confused what Twitter is for. That, despite what hashtag you may have found someone under, that it’s perfectly okay to hit on them, even if you’ve never interacted with them, when you’ve no idea who they are or why they are on Twitter in the first place.  I want to make one thing very clear to these people: Twitter is not a dating website.

I get it, You’re lonely.

Loneliness can be a terrible thing. Depression can compound it. I know that.  You can be surrounded by people, but still be incredibly lonely.  But that does not excuse such behavior.  Like many people on Twitter I am there for a specific reason, it’s why I post under specific hashtags like #depression and #anxiety.  My bio is very clear that I’m a mental health advocate and that I’m the editor for PBTS. It does not state what my marital status is or that I’m looking for a relationship. Yet this does not stop the consistent stream of Direct Messages from men (and the occasional woman) who think that Twitter is a way to get a date. Or just casual sex.

I am NOT there for that! I’m in a relationship. I’m not looking for someone. My purpose for being on Twitter is to be someone who supports sufferers of mental health issues, and as a sufferer myself. Twitter is not a dating website, I’m not having those sort of conversations on there. Yet it doesn’t matter how politely I say that I’m not interested or that I’m seriously involved with someone, these people still continue trying. They try and continue their wooing until it gets to a point that you have no option but to block them. For me, I’m now at a point where I’m considering a total block on Direct Messaging altogether.

I’m Not Alone

I am not alone in this. I’ve received tweets from numerous followers saying that they get at least 2-3 of these types of propositions a day and that despite being very clear that they do not want this type of interaction, they continue to get pestered. Alex has experienced it too, and like me finds it incredibly uncomfortable.  As my boss at PBTS he has had to step in with some of them and take over the conversation to try and get them to back off because it has tripped my anxiety to a level that I don’t know what to do. I don’t like blocking people, no one wants to dismiss someone else’s loneliness or hurt their feelings. It can be devastating to be brushed off again and again when you’re trying to find someone. But sometimes I’m left with no choice.

You Don’t Even Know Me

Part of my job at PBTS is talking to people, getting conversations going to help people open up about their struggles or to support them. Sometimes these conversations have to take place on Direct Message because of the sensitive nature of them. Many of our interviews are as a result of us building such connections.  But currently I’m at a point where I’m afraid to open my DM folder because I know there will be more of the unwanted type.

The issue is they come out of nowhere. You’ve never interacted with this person, but they’ve decided to follow you without even looking at who you are or what you do. It’s indiscriminate in it’s nature, which is almost offensive in itself when these messages arrive. They’ve seen your profile picture and that’s all. Talk about judging a book by it’s cover alone!

Toxic

What these people don’t see is how toxic this behavior is.  I have serious self-esteem issues. I’m scarred from previous relationships, where who I was inside was nothing to them, all that mattered was what I looked like or what I could do for them. It’s an issue within society that people take more stock in the packaging than the content. These blind approaches are harmful. You have no idea who this person is. Twitter is not a dating website where everyone is actively looking to meet someone. If I’m posting under hashtags like #depression, #anxiety and #mentalhealth, why would that lead you to believe I’m looking for sex or romance?

I’m not.

I am talking and interacting with people who are vulnerable, sometimes I am vulnerable myself. By propositioning such people you are trying to prey on people who do not need this.  Depression so often comes with complete lack of self-esteem that these approaches can worsen what’s already there. You are likely to inflict damage on someone else in your search for gratification. But you won’t even know it and you may not even care. But I do. That’s why I’m writing this post instead of my usual pick of the week.

It’s Not Appropriate

To anyone who thinks that it’s okay to continue with these types of blind advances I have one thing to say. Twitter is not a dating website! If you are looking for romantic or sexual hook-ups there are specific sites designed for this. E-harmony, Match, Grinder or Tinder were set up for a reason. Yes you may have to pay for them, but the people on them are looking for the same thing you are.

So go on those sites, or I don’t know… just go out and meet people who have common interests with you.  If I’m on Twitter it doesn’t give you the right to assume I’m looking for the same thing you are.  You don’t know me. I’m there to talk to people about the subjects that matter to me, be that mental health, music or writing. Don’t assume everyone on Twitter is fair game for your advances, because they’re not. If someone is writing about mental health and it’s impact on themselves or someone they care about, they are not going to appreciate some random stranger hitting on them out of the blue.

So please, PLEASE, if you are someone who does this or are considering it, don’t. Just don’t. You don’t know who you are talking to, it could be a mental health sufferer, it could be a child (Twitter’s minimum age is only 13).  You won’t get what you want out of it and it’s really not welcome. Do your online dating where it’s meant to be done, on online dating websites.

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Become a PatronDisclaimer: I am not an expert, nor am I medically qualified.  This blog is based on my personal experiences only.  Always seek medical advice in the first instance.

 

Words Hurt

Sticks and Stones

I remember as a child so often being told the old adage ‘sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me’. It’s something that’s trotted out so often to victims of bullying when they’re young. The idea that name calling isn’t somehow as damaging as physical violence gets ingrained from the playground upwards, and realistically it’s an attitude that needs to change. Whether you think it’s trivial or not; words hurt.

So many of the people I encounter on Twitter with mental health issues, either have been bullied, or worse are being bullied due to their condition. And this isn’t just children, and it’s not just in schools. It’s adults, in the workplace, on-line and in their own homes. People who are already vulnerable are being scarred even further by psychological damage inflicted by others. I should know. I’m one of them.

We Need To See That Words Hurt

I know as part of my own journey that I need to learn how to forgive those who hurt me, to move on and grow from it. I’m not talking about those people who inadvertently make a mistake and hurt my feelings. If Alex is snappish because of his mental health, I know that it is not meant. He’s not deliberately tried to hurt me or upset me. Usually by talking things through we can work things out again. We look at what happened and see what we can do about it for the future.

No, I’m talking about the times when someone uses names or insults to deliberately hurt you. To undermine you. Especially when they do this to make themselves feel better or more in control. These people are toxic. I have experience of people like this. I am the product of years of certain individuals who thought it was okay to abuse others like that. It eroded me, it broke me. Yet it was invisible to everyone around me.

The scars I’ve inflicted upon myself have been driven by my own self-loathing.  It’s a strong self-hatred that has been reinforced by these individuals confirming that everything bad about myself that my dark passenger whispers to me is true.  It’s a hard habit to break. But I’m trying.

Your Words Can End A Life

I’m serious. They really can. How many young lives have ended in suicide because of bullying? Far too many. It’s a tragedy we see over and over again. And it needs to stop. Zero tolerance of bullying in schools, the workplace, or online should mean exactly that. Zero tolerance. We need to be educating even earlier about the power of words, building it into our daily lives. Just being more mindful and if we see bullying going on, take a stand against it.  Not just sit by and let it happen. Bullying crosses so easily into abuse and it’s effects are devastating.  We have to scrap the old ‘sticks and stones’ and move forwards by recognising that words hurt. The wrong ones can kill.

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Become a PatronDisclaimer: I am not an expert, nor am I medically qualified.  This blog is based on my personal experiences only.  Always seek medical advice in the first instance.

The Light of Hope

‘Tis The Season

So it’s official. We’re in December and the countdown to Christmas has begun. It’s okay to start playing Christmas music and put up your tree (even if I still think it’s too early!). The chaos of shopping is well underway. It should be all jolly and bright, right? Unfortunately, no. For some it’s not. This time of year can be hard, the dark mornings and early evenings can exacerbate S.A.D, the almost enforced jolliness and pressure can make anxiety and depression worse. If you suffer with mental health issues it can be incredibly lonely and isolating at this time of year. So I wanted to give you a little gift if you are a sufferer, the light of hope.

So, okay at this point you probably think I’ve lost it completely. But let me explain. We’ve just finished our Very Mental Christmas week, our aim being to share hints and tips to help mental health sufferers through the Christmas period. I do advise you check it out if you haven’t already! But one thing that has come out is how fearful some of these sufferers are of the holidays. I know that fear. I feel it too. It looms up like a huge dark cloud; the endless what ifs, the pressure of perfection, the stresses of finances, family squabbles over whose turn it is to host. Instead of being a time of peace and goodwill it becomes a monster waiting to rip us to shreds. When you are already struggling it feels utterly overwhelming.

From Darkness to Light

One thing that many people don’t realize is that Christmas day was designated as 25th December to coincide with the old pagan festivals of the winter solstice.  In a bid to win over new believers to the Christian faith, some of the pagan traditions were carried over. One of the most recognizable is the Christmas tree, originally a green bough dragged into the home and burnt to bring light to the dark. An offering to the gods with the hope that winter would end soon and warmth and light would return to the people.

Sometimes when you are battling with depression, your mind can feel like it’s stuck in an eternal, long winter. It’s cold and dark and feels relentless. It’s why that little bit of light, that glimmer of hope is so important. Someday the sun will return, it might not be tomorrow but it will come back. We just have to hold on to hope.

The Light of Hope

So, to all of you. Don’t try for the ‘perfect’ Christmas. Just have your Christmas, your way. Make time for your self-care, even if you have to be selfish to get it. Go easy on yourself. It’s ok not to be okay and if you need some encouragement, you can find some here. Hope can be a powerful thing, and while things may not be good now, it can get better. On Christmas night I’m going to light a candle as reminder of the light of hope: the hope that the darkness in my head will fade, that the new year will be better. That even though it’s winter now, it won’t be forever.

I’ll just leave you with this. It’s from one of my favourite Christmas songs and it’s my hope for the coming year.

“Have yourself a merry little Christmas, let your heart be light. Next year all our troubles will be out of sight.’

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Take the Risk

Play it Safe or Take the Risk?

I have always been one of those people, the one who doesn’t take risks, goes for the safe option. I’ve stuck in the same job for 16 years because I know I can do it almost in my sleep. Depression has eroded my self esteem so much that more often than not fear paralyses me into inaction.  But sometimes we have to take the risk. We can’t just sit and let life pass us by. One thing that struck me when Alex wrote Fleeting Fragility was how often people let themselves be bound by fear and before we know it life has passed us by.

Six months ago I took a huge risk. I packed up mine and my children’s belongings and left my marriage of eleven years. I won’t bore you with the reasons why; just that things had gotten to a point that things had to change.  So I took a risk, I left what would have been financially easier, so that my children would be able to grow safely and happily. I had taken a hit to my mental health during the course of the relationship, and while leaving didn’t stop the spiral immediately, I didn’t completely drop into the abyss.

I took the risk. And it paid off.

Chances

Not every risk we take pays off. Even the individuals who try to make romantic connections via Twitter to people they hardly know are taking a risk. Okay, they probably get rebuffed a lot. But they’re trying to find some happiness in a world that is increasingly negative.

If we don’t take the chance nothing will ever happen. When Alex started this website, it was a risk. It still is sometimes. Making this work as a business is hard work and sometimes can feel like an uphill struggle. Combining this with the fact that we both have issues with depression and anxiety could make this seem an unlikely enterprise.  There’s risks to our mental health simply from how some can respond to what we write about.

But we take the risk. Everyday. Because it’s our purpose.

Reach Out

I guess this is the crux of my point with this weeks post. Reach out. Take the risk. If you know someone is suffering with mental health issues, reach out to them. Yes, there’s the chance you may not be able to help them, but it’s more likely that just knowing that someone is there will help. Likewise as a sufferer if you know that something or someone is a big contributing factor to your depression then it’s maybe time to take a risk and make a change. Speaking as someone who hates taking chances and yet has recently decided to take the risk and let myself be vulnerable again, your happiness could be on the line.  After all if you don’t then you could leave it one day too late.

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Become a PatronDisclaimer: I am not an expert, nor am I medically qualified.  This blog is based on my personal experiences only.  Always seek medical advice in the first instance.

 

The Power of Resting

Rest and Me

Good morning, how are you doing today?  How did you sleep last night?  I hope it was a good night for you, full of rest and relaxation.  I find that night time is usually the worst time for me as my depression or anxiety tend to kick my insomnia into overdrive. That’s me though.  How about you?  Feel free to leave a comment below, as I’d like to know what you think of nights.

Most mornings I wake up a little crotchety.  With restless nights, I find I don’t have the requisite energy to face the morning and that makes it difficult to get myself out of bed.  Resting well gives me that energy but those nights are few and far between.  There are, however, more ways of getting refreshed than sleep.  Sleep, after all, is overrated, at least in my view as an insomniac.

Those of you following my journey will see that I spend most days in that “just tired” stage.  It’s become my regular state of life, going through the motions in some form of tiredness.  How I get through the day is beyond me but it’s one of those things you get used to.  Somehow.

A Time to Rest

Are you one of those people who doesn’t sleep very well? Well the good news is that I’ve got a few suggestions to help you rest a little.  No, it isn’t all the techniques they suggest in counselling or therapy, just a few things that I’ve done or gone through that might help.

How do you get refreshed? How do you replenish your rapidly depleting energy reserves when you have the pressures of life swinging at you from every direction?  Well, this is where you become a little bit selfish and set aside some time for just you.  Find something that you enjoy doing and spend some time doing that.  Perhaps a film or a TV programme, a good book and a bath, a computer game, a quiet walk, anything.

It may sound obvious but it’s a very important part of getting through the struggle.  As an insomniac, sleep has stopped being a way of getting refreshment so I have had to learn to rest in other ways.  I’m the kind of person who will bend over backwards to help other people anyway, which makes replenishing my energy all the more important because the potential for burning myself out is that much higher.

So I rest.

Find Something You Enjoy

Every day, I set aside some time to play a computer game or to watch a TV episode, usually of NCIS, Big Bang Theory or Star Trek.  That way, I’m switching myself off to everything else, not looking at social media groups or running around fixing things or otherwise working.  Call it having some quiet time, where I can just do something I enjoy and not worry about anything else.

What do you enjoy doing? What brings you that sense of calmness or relaxation?  I’ve mentioned a couple of things that I do – TV, bath, book, computer game – but what could you do?  Comment below some of the things you’d do to relax, that help you please.  I’m intrigued.

Rest and Don’t QuitSometimes you just need to rest, not to quit.

When life is throwing you challenge after challenge, knocking you from pillar to post, it can be easy to give up.  I get that feeling a lot, especially if I’ve not had any sleep.  Sometimes I wonder why I should bother with things.  Even the simple things like going to the shops or messaging.

Don’t quit!

Keep going!

I know it may seem impossible at the moment but you’ve got this.  I mean that.  Keep doing what you’re doing.  It will be hard, there will be difficult days but you will make it through.  You’ve survived 100% of the bad days so far and together we will get through the future days.

Take care of yourselves guys.

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Become a PatronDisclaimer: I am not an expert, nor am I medically qualified.  This blog is based on my personal experiences only.  Always seek medical advice in the first instance.

Hope

Hope: Depression’s Nemesis

Sometimes when you are suffering depression hope seems like a dream, unattainable and impossible. Having a purpose seems pointless if all you can see is the darkness. But it’s important.  Hope is not the cure, but it can help. It’s something I’ve found I say a lot to people when I’m interacting on Twitter.  Have hope. Don’t give in. Keep Fighting. 

You see, I am probably one of the most stubborn people you will ever meet. Yet I have depression. I have anxiety. Both can crush me beyond belief. They can make me numb, they can be harrowing and debilitating. Anxiety can leave me unable to speak and I get unbelievably angry and frustrated when it does. Depression can send me into such desolation all I can do to find an escape is to cut. (If you haven’t already, please read I Am Cut. It just explains so much!)

Not Giving In

But the thing with me is my stubbornness won’t let me give in to the darkness. I fight it. And because I’m stubborn I don’t give up on others either. I try to give them hope when they are lacking it, I’ll fight to get them to see there is light in the darkness. In some ways I’m relentless. ( Just ask Alex! I must drive him crazy sometimes!)

To me that is hope. Being the light in someone else’s darkness is giving them hope. Depression is ugly, brutal and corrosive. It robs you of so much. It can wreck friendships, destroy careers, ruin families and steal people from us. Being side by side with someone, fighting for them, supporting them, is the greatest weapon in your fight against their depression. It will equip them to be able to push back the darkness.

So if you haven’t already, read our manifesto. Join us on Twitter or Facebook. Be the light in someone else’s darkness. Give them hope. Because without it, depression wins.

Why not subscribe?

Subscribe today to receive a free chapter from my eBook “Pills and Blades”, a subscriber-exclusive podcast episode and more!

Become a PatronDisclaimer: I am not an expert, nor am I medically qualified.  This blog is based on my personal experiences only.  Always seek medical advice in the first instance.

Light up the Dark Like A Firework!

Light Up The Sky

So of course as it’s bonfire night I have to tailor this week’s pick a little around fireworks. Today is bittersweet; I love fireworks, I love bonfires but it’s a love I inherited from my dad and this will be the first one without him.  As I was watching the early fireworks last night I was struck by the beautiful lights illuminating the dark and I had a thought; What Alex and I are trying to achieve with Pushing Back the Shadows is similar. We’re trying to light up the dark like a firework. Sometimes in little bursts, but sometimes with a blast that lights up our lives and others.

Through the darkness of depression we are sharing our stories, we are supporting others and we are fighting back the darkness.

So this week I want to look at bringing a little light.

Firework

Today, despite being somewhat bittersweet as I’ve mentioned, is a good day. It’s cold and clear and it’s been a morning of good things.  It started with a cuddle from my little one, followed by a good breakfast. Then we went to see Alex lead worship at a local church. It was great to see and I was heartened by the comment from one of the congregation saying how much she thinks he’s come on from where he was. It’s true (even if he won’t admit it) he really has. Like the post glow sticks, he’s had to break before he could shine. And boy is he shining!

Sometimes it’s difficult to see the progress we are making, set backs (like Alex’s twitter account being off-line for nearly a week) can knock you back. It can make you question the purpose of what you are trying to achieve. But if we take for example the twitter issue, we stopped and had a think and decided it was time I got on twitter too, we worked other social media and kept investigating issues on how to fix the problem.

Light Up Like A Firework

It could have knocked us back. It nearly did, but between the two of us we kept pushing forwards. And it was so worth it!

Even with our biggest source of traffic off-line we gained new subscribers, I gained followers of my own. I discovered great joy in connecting with new people. I got to support others (even when I was on a black day myself, and it helped pull me through) One thing that stands out is the support we each received and the welcome back Alex got when his twitter account came back online. It was phenomenal!

We’ve gone through a lot of changes with our journies, like a butterfly or a diamond we’ve evolved in darkness. But even in the darkness something amazing is happening. Like it or not, we are reaching people, we are having a positive effect and in the process we are changing too. Maybe we won’t ever be fully recovered, but right now I’d rather be a firework lighting up the dark every once in a while. After all it can be beautiful.

Why not subscribe?

Subscribe today to receive a free chapter from my eBook “Pills and Blades”, a subscriber-exclusive podcast episode and more!

Become a PatronDisclaimer: I am not an expert, nor am I medically qualified.  This blog is based on my personal experiences only.  Always seek medical advice in the first instance.