Yesterday my blog post tried to show how negative could be turned into positive. I did originally write the negative one I have to be honest. Only with the last lines did I feel the need to re-write it from a positive perspective. Unfortunately for me, the stage was already set with the negative and it did lead to a large anxiety attack. I was lucky as normal and had a friend talk me through it. I do not want that to dissuade me from looking for positives though, I even draw positives from the event itself. I have surrounded myself with an excellent group of peers, who I trust. I was able to get through a very bad attack and very rough night and know that it will happen but not to get to down about it.
I have had a nice relaxed day today, I could have been motivated but I took time to myself. I think it is very important we remember to take a little time for ourselves, especially in such a hectic world as we are in. I look at it as work and reward, do something I have to in the real world, reward myself with a rest or some Twitter time (I do love my Twitter) and repeat. Today my reward was the silence and the ticking clock, no music, no TV, just me and the silence.
There is a line that needs to be drawn between putting everything off until tomorrow and accepting that today is not its day. I am terrible for burying my head in the sand and letting my problems build up while I ignore them. This is one of the big parts of my anxiety, but I also know that sometimes you need to have a day to yourself. I do feel ready to face then (bloody scared) but I know that by the end of the week I will have made progress. Today I do not need to worry about them, today is not their day, today is my day.
Yesterday was the first day in a long time I felt my depression again, it was very unnerving for me. I now see my anxiety for what it is, a warning. I am starting to feel that I should be using anxiety as a friend not a foe. Like a dog barking at an unfamiliar noise, my anxiety is my watch dog, letting me know that something is wrong. For the depression to break the chemical barrier I realised that I have been bottling up too much. As I said I had a rough night, I spent a long time sat in the dark having a long chat with depression.
It is eager for me to sort out my current problems, it is concerned for me. How strange a statement that is to write, treating my illness as a person but then my illness is a person, me. It reminded me to relook at the first principle of CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy)
(A) Events lead to (B) Thoughts lead to (C) Emotions and behaviours
A very simple but important piece of information. I know that my Depression is my emotional response and my anxiety is a behavioural response to the way I am thinking about certain life events. If I can change how I think about an event this should have an effect on my depression, and lightening my depression should reduce my anxiety. My depression is very deep but I know that there are events close to the surface that I can start with, it may feel like emptying a lake with a teaspoon but I guess the sooner I start the faster it will empty.
I also realise that I am not alone, there are others who are willing to pick up a spoon with me and help. Some may have to take time out to empty their own lake, but maybe we can all help them as well. Maybe someone will empty their lake and stick around to help. Who knows, one of us might learn how to make buckets and we can all speed up our recovery. Soon what once seemed an impossible task has become easier, we might even start to enjoy our labour.
I also appreciate that for some people their lake will keep refilling, unfortunately there are those of us who may never know an end to the suffering, but we will never give up helping them. Even if we keep it from spilling over, and the more who help, the more people we can help. The key here is not to dwell on the emotions and behaviours but to start looking at our thinking. It is very easy for us to only see our illness as the symptoms, very easy to think that because the medication takes the symptoms away that they are actually taking the ‘event’ away. The medication is only controlling the symptoms, that is all they do.
Last night my depression broke through the chemical barrier, but it was not mean, it was a quiet voice in my mind telling me how wrong I was being. It reminded me that controlling the symptoms was not the answer, that even the meditation and mindfulness were just forms of symptom control. What I need to do is change how I think about things, so easy to write but our thinking is based on a lifetime of reinforced attitudes and perceptions of the world. Changing how we thing is effectively rewriting our book of life, ripping whole pages out and drafting new ones. Our thinking is also very reliant on attitudes and beliefs written on other pages which might also need to be amended or rewritten.
The hardest part to this changing of our thoughts, our beliefs and attitudes is what do we write on the fresh page? I think we all know how hard it is to delete something and find the words to start again. I guess right now all I can do is look at how I think now that causes such bad emotional responses, find a new way of thinking and see what emotion it evokes. Could be a lot of trial and error but at least I am trying, at least my spoon is busy.
PS I am conducting a little survey that is totally anonymous but I am trying to understand how I can best help myself and others with mental illness. It only takes two minutes to complete and I would be very grateful for your input.