Today I was asked a very interesting question via Twitter:
“I see all the ‘think positive’ messages + think, why is something that sounds so simple, so damn hard?!” #depression
I read it and started to think, the first thing I knew was that it was not a question I could answer in 140 characters. Now as many of you know I am not a therapist, I am a sufferer who has decided to ‘self help’ because the system just has no time for middle ground mental health. In fact I have done such a good job of helping myself that the MH services in my area have passed me back to my GP, so after six months I still do not have a diagnosis other than what I have found out about myself.
There are many things in life that can make me feel down, my mood can switch at a moments notice. I might get frustrated with something which causes me to self hate, give up, sulk. I am the king of negative thinking, its automatic, I have to work hard every time to change my thinking. It is not easy, sometimes I can do it easily, other times it might take days for me to lift. Every day is a fresh start, every morning heralds the possibility that this will be a good day, every day I have hope.
Depression for me is a vicious cycle to break, I feel down and find I cannot face doing even simple things, dishes can pile up, the house starts to clutter, mail goes unopened. I say to myself, I will do it later, tomorrow, but it haunts me. The more these things gradually build, the more I retreat, the more into myself I go. Before long these simple little tasks have gathered together to create a mountain, I do not even know where to start, I want to just do, but I can’t.
It is very hard to explain to people the difference between being lazy and being unable. Lazy people don’t care, depressed people do. I hate myself, I hate lying on the sofa, knowing I have so much I need to do but just being unable to do it. Pills, potions, meditation, introspection, mindfulness, the list goes on, but so does the screaming row in my head. I have to remind myself to do things, I look upon everything I manage to do as a success. I get up and shower, good one. I do the dishes, gold star, I tidy up, massive achievement.
The best thing I have found is routine, I even have an app on my phone (It is called ‘Productive’ ) which I use to remind me to do even simple things. Stick to a routine and I might get things done, it’s a game I play. I make myself smile, often times I don’t want to, but I do it anyway. Smiling actually helps stop the negative thoughts, smiling helps me motivate. I also spend time trying to spread positivity, even if I am having a bad day, others might be having a worse day. If I can help someone else smile, change someone elses day, then I can feel good. Having a community of people who depend on each other is important, supporting each other and caring for each other.
In a world where negativity is thrust at us from all directions, the news, social media, work, etc, it is hard sometimes to stay positive. Sometimes being reminded to smile, which sounds so silly but in fact, for many, might change their day. I could be called a hypocrite for saying/ posting motivational messages when I do not always follow the advice. For me the difference is that I try, not just for me but those I care for. If I can get someone, to pause, to take a moment to find a point of reference from where they can look at how they feel, I have done something good. I may never know, but I still share.
Depression is hard, it can be caused by many things, some know what is making them feel bad, others do not. As I said before, I am no expert, I only know what works for me, what has been found to work for others. I know that if I change how I look at something, if I can find a positive, I am more likely to do it. “look at all those dishes, they will take hours to do”, a common negative thought of mine. “right, lets clean some of them dishes while the kettle boils, then I will have a nice cuppa and check Twitter, in fact lets listen to some tunes whilst I do them”. “OMG look at the mess, the place is a dump, FFS how!!!”, “Right 25 minutes per room, ready, set, goooooo”.
I know, sounds childish turning it into a game, giving silly rewards, but I find it works. I can’t always stop the depression, but I am getting better at heading it off. When I post positive messages, I have decided to share a positive day. I might be having one myself or I might need motivating myself. Life is not easy, but it can be made easier. If you enjoy doing something, you are more likely to do it. So, I guess what I am trying to do is to teach myself to enjoy just doing. Stop myself thinking “oh FFS, I can’t do that”, “no, not today, maybe tomorrow”. I am trying to change my thinking towards, “how can I make this fun?”, “what can I do after this?”, “If I give myself 25 minutes and do it in 10, I can colour for a while”.
I do not have a brilliant answer, I wish I did. All I can suggest is that every time you see something positive, smile when you read it. Find something within it to inspire you, get up, do a little dance, sing, draw, do the bloody dishes and hoover up. The most important thing, the thing that will make the difference is share what you have done. Even if the only thing you achieve today is to smile, let everyone know that you did. Share, tell the world you feel good after your shower, tell everyone how lush the kitchen looks, that you have just thrown some shapes whilst dusting listening to cheesy pop.
For me the meaning of life is to find enjoyment in every moment, and share it. You might think nobody cares, but there are a lot of people out there who do.