Continuing to be Remembered

“Don’t Forget You’re Remembered”

It’s an amazing thing, isn’t it, what happens when you have a mental breakdown and suddenly disappear off the face of the earth.  For a short while, it’s as though nothing’s happened.  You lock yourself away, avoiding anything and everything that could possibly make your excruciating mental state worse and you go radio silent, preventing anything from getting to you.  Then, people suddenly seem to notice that you’ve gone.  That’s when the messages start.  Messages reminding you that “you’re remembered in thoughts and prayers”, “best wishes to you” and the like.

You’re remembered.

Isn’t that nice?  In my mind, it sounds remarkably like I’m already dead, but that might just be me and the state of mind that I’ve been in recently.  Anyway, it has a sense of finality to it.  Perhaps they think you’re never coming back.  Or maybe they’ve just given up on you already.  After all, the world can be very fickle.

Have you ever felt that?  That the words people choose for their messages push your mind in certain directions?  “I’m thinking of you”, having that ongoing concern but “you’re remembered in thoughts and prayers” feeling like you’re a part of the past?  It’s something I’ve dwelt on for a long time, wondering.

You see, there are so many things that I believe people get wrong when dealing with mental health.  One of those big things, as I’ve written about before, is putting the onus of communication onto the sufferer.  I feel there is no need for it, as people who care – and truly care – about the person suffering shouldn’t take the attitude that says “well I never hear from you, so why should I message?”  Though that’s a subject from a previous post.

But even when they’re not talking…don’t worry, because you’re remembered…

A Lame Excuse

Perhaps a little of my anger will show through in this particular section, but I’m sure as we progress you will understand where I’m coming from.  You see, the lines of “you’re remembered in our thoughts and prayers” just smacks of an excuse to me.  Not just any excuse, but a pretty poor excuse.  Correct me if I’m wrong, but it really really sounds like they’re saying “I want to care but I’m far too busy, so I’ll give you this lovely sentiment of being remembered so that you’ll feel better.”

Am I wrong?

It feels lazy.  As though they’re either too busy to bother arranging something or they simply cannot be bothered.  At least, that’s what it seems like to me.

Now, a lot of people reading this who have used that line will argue with it.  They’ll say that they’ve tried to arrange things, that they’ve attempted to make more of an effort to see you.  They’ll say that they’ve been met with a brick wall of radio silence, that they’ve not had any answers or that there has been no effort made on the part of the sufferer.  In other words, they’ll say it’s not their fault.

And maybe it isn’t.  Maybe they are simply doing the best they can with the situation that they have.  After all, if we won’t reply then what exactly can they do, eh?

What people don’t realise is that first impression, that initial moment is the key.

Cataclysm

In interviews, they say, it takes only 7 seconds to make that first impression.  7 seconds.  That’s it.  If we fail…then we fail, that’s it.  No more chances to make that good impression.

So let’s travel back together to that XXX.  How did it begin?  As I’ve already mentioned, it began with me putting up those walls, dropping out of things, initiating that radio silence.   Getting to grips with my condition left me with little room for anything else.

It was hell.

The radio silence, for the record, might as well not have happened.  After all, with no messages coming in to find out how things were, there was no point in maintaining that radio silence because there was nothing to respond to.  Not that I would have been able to respond if there had been messages.  With depression haunting my every waking moment, I didn’t want to talk to people.  I didn’t have the energy.  Because that’s one of the big problems with depression and other mental health struggles: the lack of energy.  Responding to people, trying to find the words to explain how I was feeling…that took energy that I didn’t have.

That brings us back to first impressions.  No one had noticed I wasn’t there, no one had thought to drop me a message to find out how things were going.  That cemented itself into my mind and, when the messages finally started coming, it was too late.

I’d given up.

They were meaningless.

The Blame Culture

You see, we live in a culture that seems to emphasise blaming others for whatever is going on in our lives.  Whether it’s a person, an object or something else, we will blame anyone or anything so long as we can avoid shouldering that responsibility.  It’s far too common, isn’t it?   I mean…have you ever heard someone use the excuse of “the dog ate my homework”?  I’m sure that’s one you’ve heard of.  Check these out (from the Reader’s Digest):

You see what I mean?  We are so intent on escaping any kind of culpability that we will blame everything and anything else.  And that’s what happens in these situations.  People will give us those short, “heartfelt” reminders that we are “remembered” but then do nothing else.  When we raise it as an issue, we are then told that we’re being ungrateful or that we never give them a chance or that we simply don’t message or don’t respond so why should they?

Likewise, we are quick to blame others when we lose contact with people or they don’t get in touch.  Who is really to blame, though?  After all, both parties could do more.  We, as mental health sufferers, could try and message a bit more and see if we can keep in touch.  Similarly, we as friends and family members supporting loved ones could make more effort to be understanding, compassionate, and realise that sometimes it might not be possible for the sufferer to message first.

My Conclusion

At the end of the day, having that reminder that we are “remembered in thoughts and prayers” is a cop out.  Why not replace it with actual direct questions?  Granted, a lot of people think “Hi, how are you doing?” is a bit of a lame message, so why not take it the next level deeper?  “Hi, how are things going?  Been thinking of you lately.  I’ve been doing X, Y or Z recently.”  Make that little bit more effort.

Who knows?  It might actually get you somewhere.

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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.

Flipping the Fail to Find Fulfilment

When We Fail

Failure.  To fail.  Failing.  These are all words that we’ve come to dread, aren’t they?  They make us feel as though we’re not good enough.  We’re hopeless.  Worthless.  Rubbish.  In short: we have failed and we will never amount to anything.

Does this sound familiar?  In your life, you might feel like you’ve brushed with failure many times, or maybe just a few times as you’ve bulldozed your way to success.  Certainly, it’s a feeling that is one of the most common in the world.  But what is failure?  When we fail, are we a failure?  Have we failed?  Perhaps…but perhaps not.

Back in August 2017, Cheryl wrote about how there are days when she feels like a failure.  Days when nothing seems to go right and when we feel as though we are worthless, hopeless…that we can’t get anything right.  It’s almost as if we fail at everything we put our minds to.  We can’t achieve.  It’s been just over a year since she wrote that post and, in all honesty, it hasn’t been the last time she’s felt this way.  There are, however, two sides to every story and I would like to tell you my side.

I’m Only Human

Society has brought us up to believe that failure is bad.  If we fail then we haven’t achieved our goal and our efforts have been in vain.  Sound about right?  Whatever we have failed at – big tasks, small tasks or even something monolithic and almost monumental – we are worthless because we’ve not achieved.  That job we’ve applied for that we didn’t get?  We’re not good enough.  The problem that needed solving that we just can’t figure out?  We’re not smart enough.  Whatever it is that we haven’t achieved, we’re simply not good enough.

But we’re only human.

As Cheryl said in her post, to fail is human.  It’s something we all go through, something we all have to face.  Wouldn’t you say so?

“But I’m human. I’m also suffering with mental illness. And I’m not alone. Just from our interactions on Twitter, I know I’m not the only one who slipped and fell into darkness again. Oddly enough, that’s why I’m writing this, it’s why I’m not hiding and avoiding my task of getting my pick of the week posted. To remind everyone who slips that they are not alone. We make mistakes.” – Cheryl, from “Feeling Like a Failure”, August 2017

To fail is human, to fall is natural and we all go through it.  Through the shame, the disappointment and everything else that goes on inside of us when we fail, we are only human at the end of the day, and it’s natural.

But our mental illness doesn’t allow for that, does it?

“I Must Be Worthless”

While struggling with a mental illness, our self-worth takes a beating whenever we fail.  For those of you who are good at maths (not me, to put that on record), it’s as though our emotions surrounding failure have been magnified by the power of a billion.  It’s almost too much to deal with.

We feel worthless.

Cheryl is guilty of this.  I am also guilty of this.  I’m sure if you are being honest, you are also guilty of this too.  That simple acknowledgement can also feel like a failure, as we believe we should be better than this, but we don’t always process it rationally, do we?  You see, mental illness has a way of accentuating our feelings, making us feel worse than we actually are.  Depression, anxiety, BPD, bipolar…they love nothing more than to prey on our own emotions and make them ten, twenty, a hundred times worse than they are.  It can make us feel as though our failure is colossal and that we are completely worthless, for we can’t see the worth we have.

Though there is something I’ve not yet told you.  Something that might take this perception and concept of failure and flip it on its head.

You ready?

A Small Secret

There’s a little secret to dealing with failure.  You see, we tend to focus on one very simple, little, insignificant detail:

We did not achieve what we set out to do.

Looking at those words, it sums it up.  We set out with a goal in mind and we didn’t achieve that goal, therefore we’ve failed.  Despite our best efforts, we haven’t achieved that aim, ergo we are a failure, we have failed, there are no two ways about it.

Except…there are two ways about it.

Who says that your success or failure resides solely in achieving the aim that you set out to attain?  If anything, the aim itself is just one part of the journey to success.  Because that’s what it is: a journey.  Each time we set out to attain a goal, we are on a miniature journey to success and the end result is simply a part of that.  To refuse to acknowledge that is to discount the decisions, the attempts and everything else that goes into it.

So what is the reality?  What makes a failure not a failure?

The Reality of Failure

Even if you don’t achieve what you set out to do, you have not failed.  That’s right, I said YOU HAVE NOT FAILED!  Why not?  Because you tried.  Think to yourself, how much courage did it take to take that first step on your success journey?  The decision to try despite all the nagging voices and doubts inside your head (and sometimes outside your head in the form of real people) telling you that you couldn’t do it?  You’ve got to take those into account.

The reality is even if you didn’t achieve your goal, you still tried.  Against everything telling you why you shouldn’t or couldn’t do it, you still tried.  And that, my friends, is a success in itself.  You see, failure is only a true failure if you didn’t try.  As Lester B. Pearson said, “Failures are made by those who fail to dare, not by those who dare to fail.”

“Failures are made by those who fail to dare, not by those who dare to fail.” – Lester B. Pearson

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Telling People the Truth…Harsh or Fair?

Convincing Depressed People They’re Mentally Ill – Truth or Lie?

Don’t you love it when someone is trying to make a point, one that goes against what you believe, and they then inadvertently give you a greater social media footprint for that day, better website views and a post topic?  Truth be told…I love it!

So let’s dive in.  What happened?  Well, on the 13th of August 2018, I sat down at my computer, opened my browser and started loading my website along with my social media accounts that I was going to work that day.  As I was catching up on my Twitter notifications, I came across this one response to a tweet of mine.  It was from Rob Grant.  Check it out:

So let’s look at the tweet in question.  It was one of our #BruisedMinds images that I share across our social media platforms.  In fact, it was the image on the left.  Looks pretty encouraging, right?  Well apparently Rob disagreed with one part of it: that depression is a mental illness.

Let’s have a look at his reply and break it down (no, honestly, I’m not getting some kind of enjoyment from this…but oh I do love a good debate/argument!)

“Mental Illness Can’t Be Cured – Depression Can”

OK, suffice it to say that I’m confused with this bit.  In a nutshell, Rob’s whole argument centred around this concept.  He is convinced that depression is not a mental illness because it can be cured, as opposed to things like schizophrenia or bipolar.  Forget for a moment that depression affects the mind and it’s, by its very nature, an illness (as apparently that’s wrong) but look instead at the part where he says it can be cured.

Did you know that?  Hooray!  That black dog inside your head can finally be cured!  *Now re-read those last two lines in a sarcastic tone of voice please…*

There’s a word for his kind of argument but I’m polite and won’t say it.  Even so, what is he on about?  Depression can be cured?  Since when?  Every single article that I’ve found – both scientific and casual – say that depression has no cure but it is treatable.  Treatable.  We’re given medication, we’re given therapy, but that doesn’t amount to a cure.  There’s no magic bullet that zaps it.  It’s trial and error for everyone which, correct me if I’m wrong, is treatment, not a cure.

But that’s not the point I want to make here.  That particular point stems from the first part of his tweet…

Convincing Depressed People They Are Mentally Ill Will Put Them In a Deeper Hole…Truth or Lie?

OK…let’s make one thing very clear: depression affects the mind, depression is an illness, depression is, therefore, a mental illness.  Are we all agreed?  If we’re not, you might want to skip the next section, because you won’t like it.

Alright, glad you’re still with me.  So how many of you actually have a problem with the term “mental illness”?  Do you find that it actually makes you worse?  Interestingly, I had a number of people tell me it actually made them feel better in terms of fighting their depression.  So, ignoring the remark he made at the beginning of that, let me tell you what I think.

Personally, I’ve found that there is nothing wrong with being told I have a mental illness.  Truth be told, it is something that I would expect once I’ve been told that I have depression.  After all, depression is a mental illness in my mind.  Regardless, I find that it is beneficial for people to know that they are mentally ill.

Think of it this way: your computer has a problem that needs fixing.  You get it to run a diagnostic and it comes up with the error code and what the problem is.  OK, machines can’t think in the same way that we do, so it’s not like you’re telling the computer it’s ill…but by getting it to tell you what’s wrong, you’re able to fix it.  Likewise, if someone has anorexia then surely there’s something in their brain preventing them from eating?  So is that not a mental illness?  Whether a biological or chemical factor preventing us from doing what is deemed “normal”, is it not still an illness?  If we aren’t told that we are mentally ill, won’t we just assume that we’re fine and then not get treatment?

What do you think?

So you tell me…is making the link between depression and mental illness cruel?  Is informing someone that they have a mental illness going to put them into a deeper pit of darkness and despair?  Somehow I don’t think so – though I’d welcome attempts to change my mind.

Let’s see if you can!

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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 Art of Escapism

Escapism – Plain and Simple

We all have our fantasies, don’t we?  Dreams that we wish would happen, things that we would do “if we had the money” or “if there were no limits”.  Like being a superhero!  What child doesn’t dream of magical powers?  As entertaining as these fantasies are, however, they aren’t real.  Unfortunately, they are just escapism, plain and simple.

According to dictionary.com, the definition of escapism is as follows:

Noun:
1. an inclination to or habit of retreating from unpleasant or
unacceptable reality, as through diversion or fantasy.

Now I don’t know about you, but I certainly love a little bit of escapism.  It’s one of my most successful ways of coping.  When my depression hits, retreat to some fantasy world.  Anxiety attack?  Distraction through fantasy.  Simple, really.  Moreover, it’s effective!  Those distractions don’t have to be massive or complicated.  No, if anything they can be plain and simple.

Distraction Bonanza!!

What would you do, then, if you could do anything?  Anything at all.  I’m curious!  There are so many things out there that we can do, the world is our oyster, so to speak.  Perhaps you prefer the outdoor world, travelling across the globe and visiting all sorts of wonderful places.  Alternatively, you might prefer the indoor world of books, video games, films.  You might be a creative type, enjoying writing, drawing, creating sculptures or music.  Whatever your tastes, I’m sure there is something that you would enjoy doing if you could do that for a moment.

For me, the answer comes squarely down on video games.  At least, for the moment, as our hobbies and interests can be quite fluid, changing from week to week.  Still, video games have lasted a long time for me and been very successful over the years at providing me with a good distraction.  I’d like to say I have a few different tastes, though looking at them, they do seem to boil down to one particular genre:

Fantasy and role-playing games.

Anyone else enjoy these?  Here are a few that I really enjoy:

SkyrimSkyrim - My ideal escapism.

Ah, the Elder Scrolls.  Ever since Morrowind, I’ve been a fan.  Creating a character, choosing what they look like, what skills to focus on – be it magic, stealth or toe-to-toe combat – and going out into the world to do whatever you want to do…it has a great appeal!  And Skyrim is just the latest in that vein.

There’s something about roaming the beautiful, cold tundras of Skryim, climbing from the lowest valleys to the highest peaks, finding things to fight and sharpening your skills.  It’s one of the joys of such games for me: being able to create that character and explore.  I love it!

Fallout 4Fallout 4 - another ideal form of Escapism.

Another strong contender – and unsurprisingly from the same company as the Elder Scrolls series – is Fallout 4.  Similar to Skyrim in the sense that you create your character, you choose your proficiency – stealth, combat, science, medicine, etc – and you go out and explore the Wasteland.  Post-nuclear blast that destroyed most of the world, the Wasteland is exactly what it says on the tin…yet it has an odd beauty to it.  There’s something about the desolation that is breathtaking and impressive.  It’s no surprise, really, that I lose myself in some of these games!

Dying Light

Dying Light - more good escapism.

Granted, this one isn’t quite like the other two, as you don’t create your own character.  You’re a GRE agent called Kyle Crane, dropped into the quarantined city of Harran to retrieve an important file.  The city is quarantined due to an outbreak of some virus that has turned most of the population into zombies.  You have to sharpen your skills and learn how to survive in this city, while you try and track down the perpetrator who has this file.  If you don’t want to do that immediately, that’s OK, as there are plenty of side quests that you can do.  With plenty of action, some jumpy moments and a boat-load of scares, it’s something that can certainly draw you in.  It might only appeal to a select audience, but it’s definitely one that appeals to me!

There are plenty more games that I could list – Forza Motorsports 6, Forza Horizon 3, Sid Meier’s Civilisation 5 &6, Age of Empires II & III and so on, but you don’t need me to waffle on about those.  Let’s talk escapism instead.

Escapism Perfected

Three aforementioned games, games that have a solid storyline to them but also have plenty of things to do beyond or around that.  In some, you create your character, in all of them, you choose what you want to do.  Add in the others and you have some that are simply more scenario-based (Civ or AoE, for example) but all of them have one thing in common:

Escapism.

These games offer me priceless moments of escaping from the reality that I might find myself in.  A depressive spiral, a day where I’m numb, a day where my anxiety is bubbling and boiling, threatening to go over…these games act as something to get me out of that.

It’s a distraction.

Something I can focus on other than what’s going on with me wherever I am at that point.

It’s escapism and it’s an art that I’ve perfected over the years.  Perhaps it’s not the best coping mechanism, but it’s one that I use to practise my self-care.  After all, isn’t that what successful self-care is all about?  Something that can draw me in, that can lift me out of those situations?  In each of those games, I’m not Alex the depressed, anxious Borderline Personality Disorder sufferer, I’m Alex the Warrior, Alex the Mage, Alex the Sniper, Alex the GRE Agent.  Driver, wandered, civilisation leader, strategist, commander of armies.  For a moment, however brief, I am able to be someone else.  That lifts me out of the pit.

Over To You

So what works for you?  What’s your ideal form of escapism?  Better yet, have you got any examples to show me if you write or draw or sculpt or something else?  I’d love to know!

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Become a Patron - No Room For ErrorDisclaimer: 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.

Acceptance – Our Problem or Not?

Acceptance – What I Mean

When you hear the word “acceptance”, what is it you think of?  Do you think about receiving a gift and accepting it?  Perhaps you think of other people accepting something that you’ve said.  Potentially you think of agreement? According to the dictionary, it’s all three.  More often than not, we’d probably lean towards the second definition, wouldn’t we?  But what does that have to do with our mental health?

Recently, I attended one of my Talking Therapy appointments with my mental health counsellor and we talked about some of the issues that I have regarding a couple of different situations in my life.  I shan’t go into detail about those on here, as they aren’t relevant, but suffice it to say that they involve situations that I cannot control.

For example: imagine that you are working in a call centre for a bank and you get a customer come through.  They’re furious because somehow a transfer that they requested hasn’t arrived in their account.  You then have to investigate, but you feel upset or angry that they are shouting and having a go at you.  Really, it’s not your fault.  You can’t, however, control how they are behaving, can you?

This is the kind of situation I’m referring to.  Something that someone else is doing or saying, an event or occurrence that is out of my control, something that I can try and influence but I cannot directly change.

Frustrating, isn’t it?

The Power of Acceptance

So I discussed the entire situation with my therapist, who listened intently, only asking a few clarifying questions.  Then she asked a very important question: “can you control what that/those person/people is/are doing?”

It stumped me because it seemed like such an obvious answer.  Well…no.  Unfortunately I don’t have telepathy or mind control or something along those lines, so there is no way I can control other people.  Even if I were a nasty person and resorted to things like blackmail – be it through use of a physical object or through emotional means – or threats, I could still not fully control someone.  So no…I can’t control them.

At which point, she made her answer clear.  In order for me to deal with the depression and low mood that follows this particular situation and others like it, I need to learn acceptance.  I cannot control what anyone else but me is doing, therefore I am not responsible for what they do, which means I am not to blame.  In that vein, I can stop beating myself up for everything that is going wrong or things that don’t happen because it is out of my hands.  Yes, I can influence what happens through words and deeds but I cannot control it directly.

Which is where acceptance comes in.

Confusing, right?  Well OK, maybe not completely confusing, but it took me a while to fully grasp it while she was talking.  So let’s look at it another way.

For Example…

A friend of mine is going through a difficult situation.  One of those where there is an ex-husband and kids and so on.  As with a lot of these situations, the matter of child custody is raised and arrangements of that nature are being made.  Both of them want to take an amicable, informal approach but there is a problem.

Both of them have different ideas of how it should be done.

Now, as with any situation where there are different ideas, there will be problems.  One such problem has arisen and they are in disagreement about how to handle it.  Involving when a child will visit, one parent believes the child should continue visiting mid-week as normal, the other (who has more contact as primary caregiver) has identified that this is unsettling the young child, distressing the child as they get confused easily about whose house they are going to.  So they have proposed scrapping the mid-week visits.  The friend wants the ex to make suggestions of alternatives, as they always come up with those suggestions, but the ex is making it as difficult as they possibly can because they “don’t see the problems” that the child is experiencing, nor do they believe that it is for the best.  Really, it is heavily implicit that the ex is doing what suits them best and not putting the child first, even though they vehemently deny it.

Anyway, this friend was particularly upset recently because of trying to make the arrangements and the ex was using a variety of tactics to try and get their own way.  Ranging from verbal bullying and threats to simply being argumentative over every little detail, they were trying to get their own way.  Why?  They disagreed with what was being said and, as I’ve previously mentioned, they were putting their own desires ahead of their child’s wellbeing.

So what do we do?

Acceptance

The trick here is this whole acceptance thing.  My friend cannot control the reactions of the ex.  As always, my friend is putting the children first no matter what.  That means making this difficult decision, scrapping the mid-week and figuring something else out.  Unfortunately, that also means dealing with a difficult ex and a difficult situation.  While talking to me, still upset, it became apparent my friend was self-blaming, asking whether molehills were being made into mountains and so on.

I asked a simple question: “Do you believe you are doing the right thing?”

“Yes.”

“Are you putting your child first?”

“Yes.”

Then, quite simply, the problem is with the ex.  No restrictions are being made, access is not being denied, so the problem is not with my friend.  As difficult as it is, that means accepting the ex’s behaviour because it is one of those uncontrollable factors.  Even with the best will in the world, neither my friend nor I can change the way the ex is reacting.  So why should we let it affect us?  Instead, accept that that is the way they have chosen to behave and let them get on with it.

It doesn’t need to affect us.

The Secret

You see, once we accept that a situation is the way it is, for whatever reason that may be, it loses its power over us.  Yes, we will still feel some of the feelings and emotions but we put techniques into place so that they don’t control our lives.  I’m not saying it’s easy – not in the slightest, as it can be very difficult to do – but if you can do it even a little bit, it can make life a lot easier for you.

Why not give it a go?  You might be surprised by the results.  After all…the therapists recommend it!  So see where it takes you.  Oh…and let me know how it goes!

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Episode 43 – How Do I Cope With This?


The second question in My 6 Big Mental Health Questions series asks the important one about coping with mental illness.  Whether newly diagnosed or not, a “veteran” sufferer or someone still finding their feet, it’s a question we’ve all asked at some point.  Well here are some of the ways I cope, some of the things that you can do and much more…with a surprise twist.

Useful Links:

It’s OK Not To Be OK
Successful Self-Care
Float, Don’t Fight
Knowing When Not To Fight

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Become a Patron - No Room For ErrorDisclaimer: 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.

Storms – A Picture of Encouragement

Patreon Banner - Click to find out more - A Picture of Encouragement

Inspired By A Picture

It’s amazing how people can draw.  Stick men are my limit really.  Tamera, however, can draw and she has drawn this amazing picture, giving us that little bit of hope to go through our day with.  In this video, based on her artwork, I talk about the storms of life and how we can deal with them.  Why not join me?

Useful Links:

Storms
More About Tamera

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Become a Patron - No Room For ErrorDisclaimer: 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.

High-Functioning Anxiety

High-Functioning Anxiety – the Basis

We’ve all heard of anxiety, haven’t we?  Just like we’ve heard of depression, insomnia, bipolar and other mental illnesses.  As standard, we seem to have these ideas that depression or anxiety are the only parts of those struggles, but in reality they are but basic terms that encompass a whole spectrum of conditions.  So what would happen when we apply the term “high-functioning” in front of some of these words?  I’ve talked previously about high-functioning depression – something a lot of people weren’t familiar with – but what about high-functioning anxiety?

Let’s take a look!

First off, let’s take a quick look at what this concept of “high-functioning” would mean.  According to NAMI Montgomery County, specialists determine how well you function with your mental health conditions by using the Functioning Assessment Short Test, or FAST.  It consists of questions designed to find out how you do in the following areas:

  1. Autonomy
  2. Occupational Functioning
  3. Cognitive Functioning
  4. Financial Issues
  5. Interpersonal Relationships
  6. Leisure Time

If you “do better” in each of those areas, then you’re considered to be high-functioning.  If we put that psychological jibber jabber aside, though, it basically means that you have the condition but you can still function well, therefore anyone seeing you on the street wouldn’t necessarily know you struggle with mental health issues.

The Nature of High-Functioning

OK, so we’ve established what high-functioning actually is, but what does that mean in our normal, everyday language?  For starters, we should focus on the last part of what I’d said in that last paragraph.  If someone came across us in the street, they wouldn’t know that we struggle with anxiety because, to them, we would be able to function “normally”.  (I use the term “normally” in quotes because none of us are normal really, are we?)

In itself, high-functioning is just another way of saying our masks are very very good.  We can go out and about, we can continue working, we seem to be exactly like any other productive member of society.  Those things people normally associate anxiety with?  Yeah, we don’t exhibit them much.

It might sound strange, but that is the essence of high-functioning mental health conditions.  Whether we manage them or not, people don’t seem to notice when we’re struggling.  We’re able to interact with others, able to hold down a job and we’re able to do anything that any other member of society can.

Well…almost anything…

My High-Functioning Anxiety

I’ve talked previously about how I have high-functioning depression how it affects me.  What about my anxiety?  I believe it to be high-functioning as well.  Why?  Well, for the most part I can do anything anyone else can do.  Granted, I don’t really like doing things like going out, off to the shops or being amongst crowds and stuff, but I can still do it.  There are several other reasons why I would class myself as high-functioning in my anxiety, and these come from an article published on Women’s Health (What?! I read!) called 8 Signs You’re Struggling With High-Functioning Anxiety.  Its 8 signs are as follows:

  1. People describe you as a “Type A” perfectionist.
  2. You exhibit controlling patterns.
  3. You’re constantly busy.
  4. You’re not sleeping well.
  5. You have aches, pains, repetitive habits or ticks.
  6. People have a hard time reading you.
  7. You have a crippling fear of letting other people down.
  8. “No” isn’t part of your vocabulary.

Let’s see…check, check, check, check, check, check, check and check.  Oops.  That’s done it.

Conclusions?

I have high-functioning anxiety.  I am a perfectionist.  Ask anyone.  I will do things over and over or take as much time as I can to ensure that they’re perfect.  While I’m not a controlling person, I enforce routines to ensure that I’m in control of my life (which is more or less what they said in the article).  I’m always busy, and I mean always!  Really really.  I rarely sleep very well, as I’ve talked about before.  I have those repetitive habits or ticks, commonly found in the form of cracking my knuckles or constantly jigging my leg, those sorts of things.  As for reading me, so many people have said that!  I crack a joke and they have to look really hard to tell whether or not I’m serious.  Letting people down…in my therapy, that’s coming out as one of the top reasons all my symptoms trigger.  Finally, saying “no” just doesn’t happen, as I will do anything for anyone, even at the cost of myself.

What can I say?  I do have that high-functioning anxiety though, just with high-functioning depression, you wouldn’t know it to look at me.  I used to always turn up to work and no one would know anything was wrong.

So high-functioning anxiety is real.  Remember: just because someone looks perfectly fine, doesn’t mean they are.

And it can be a killer!

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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.

Episode 42 – What Did I Do To Deserve This?

My 6 Biggest Mental Health Questions part 1 – What Did I Do To Deserve This?

We are told that we deserve what we’re going through.  If we are going through it, surely we deserve it, don’t we?  After all, we must have done something in a previous life, or we don’t have enough faith, or we’re just doing something wrong.  Or are we…?  In this 5-part series, I answer my 6 biggest mental health questions.

Useful Links

Why I’m a Christian but Have a Problem With Religion

 
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Become a Patron -What Did I Do To Deserve This?Disclaimer: 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.

No Room For Error

Error…Error…

Ironically, this video was the one that glitched in the upload.  But that error aside, don’t you find that people expect you to be perfectly fine once you show some signs of improvement?  It’s as though they don’t understand that our mental health recovery is a journey, almost like a marathon.  They seem to picture it more as a sprint, a bit like how a broken bone is healed and that’s the end of it.

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Become a Patron - No Room For ErrorDisclaimer: 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.