One day I will live this dream

One day I will live this dream

This morning I awoke early, a few minutes before my alarm. I turned it off and sat up in bed feeling refreshed after a good nights sleep. I went down stairs and got out my mat and weights, for the next half an hour I went through my work out, enjoying the feeling of the exercises. Then I spent twenty minutes in meditation, allowing my mind to clear, finding my focus for the day ahead.

After showering and getting dressed I ate a healthy breakfast, my morning coffee no longer sweetened tasted great. I brushed my teeth and checked myself in the mirror, I may have a few wrinkles but my smile hides then well. Donning my hat and coat I took the dog for a walk, the ground till damp and the morning sun starting to lighten the day. The air was fresh and invigorating, in my mind I run through the day ahead.

Returning home I put food and water down for the pets, a quick tidy up and my house was back in order. I took time to appreciate what I had, taking pride in my well kept home, a nice reminder of calm and order. I went into my study to collect my papers for the day, neatly arranged and completed. I checked my overnight emails for any thing that might affect my day, five minutes only, all was in order.

I left the house feeling calm and composed, happy with myself and my life. I looked forward to the day, helping other to find their happiness.

This is the dream I have every day, one day I will live this dream

Sunday daily snapshot

Sunday daily snapshot

07:45 Sunday morning

2 hrs 55 minutes sleep

0.5 Zopiclone tablets remaining until Tuesday

3 Diazepam tablets remaining until Tuesday

And yet I feel happy

I have gone two weeks over my prescription, I feel good about myself that I have reduced my need for medication.

I have reduced my Paroxetine from 50mg to 40mg, I did go down to 30mg but that was to much so back to 40. Whilst I do not advocate changing medication dosages without consulting a GP, I had to know if they were doing anything. Still not sure.

Mood swings and frustration tolerable.

Irrational thinking tolerable.

Sleep a concern, fatigue during the day persists.

Social isolation getting better, though still days I do not leave the house.

Exercise limited to short walks, lack of motivation to do more despite mental nagging.

Alcohol intake up slightly but not more than twice a week and even then only tipsy. Festive period ūüôā

Studying erratic and unstructured, despite mental nagging.

Personal care good but a bit erratic.

If only I could just get some sleep 

 

Not sleeping with the enemy

Not sleeping with the enemy

 

I remember in in younger days having this cavalier attitude towards sleep. Drink in hand at silly o’clock in the morning, I would declare to the world that I would get all the sleep I need when I am dead. A noble sentiment from a young man in the prime of his youth? Or the pathetic ramblings of an idiot?

Thinking back on my live fast, die young, leave a good looking corpse youth. I can see the irony in my attitude. Yes, I did have periods where I would burn my candle at both ends. Yes, I was often to be found at the centre of some drinking madness. Yes, I partied hard. I also know now that not only was it all a facade, but it was to signal yet another self destructive episode.

Back then I really did not give a crap about anyone or anything, including myself. I was running, hiding from myself, hiding how I felt from the world. Lying, cheating, drinking were the norm, I became a chameleon, even I didn’t know who I was half the time. To different people I was a different person. The one thing I know for sure, I was hardly ever me. Me, was a dim voice at the back of a very noisy crowd. Me, was the elephant in the room that even I did not want to acknowledge.

When your world shifts, when day becomes night and night, day, you struggle to fit into the ‘norm’. People think you are a party animal because you stay up till stupid o’clock in the morning and then go off to work. Or people think you are lazy because you sleep until noon, not knowing you were awake all night. Its a slow process but for me a regular one. As my worries grew and the darkness started to descend, it would become harder to sleep at nights.

Lying in bed with all self doubt, self hate, self created problems has always been a problem. I can’t remember the last time I went to bed and just went to sleep. Good sleep is essential to have a normal functioning life. I wish I could sleep. For the last six months I have been on sleeping tablets, Instant sleep without the hours of self analysis. As with all medication induced positives, it also has its down side. The Zopiclone hangover as I like to call it. The next day can be spent in a kind of groggy haze, whilst I am fully able to function on one level, I am also left with a kind of lethargy that leads to a lack of motivation. Lack of motivation then leads to hours lying on the sofa either napping, watching tv or destructive self analysis.

So now, sleeping tablets are used in small doses or as a last resort. I often see two am, sometimes later. I still only manage to average just under eight hours sleep a night but it is disturbed sleep. Right now it is one of my biggest worries. I no longer want to take the sleeping tablets at all, I am lucky to be in a position right now where I have no morning deadlines so I can afford to sleep if needed. However it is such a struggle, battling fatigue most days.

I am sure my story will resonate with many people with mental health problems, sleep disturbance seems to be a common problem for all. Trouble is it does not seem to be a well discussed problem. I would love to know how much my disrupted sleep affects my mental health. I often feel that I am trapped in a cycle, poor sleep leading to lack of motivation. Lack of motivation leading to depression and anxiety which further disturbs my sleep.

The positive now is that I am aware of this problem. No longer do I hide from it, try to destroy myself over it. Now I invite it to the table for a chat, see if we can come to some form of understanding. I am glad that I had the tablets when I was going through the worst times, but now I need to take control and start sleeping with the enemy.

 

Maybe one more post

Maybe one more post

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I remember once being asked by a paramedic what it is like to suffer from anxiety and depression, I thought it a bit odd. However it is very easy to forget that just because medical personnel are trained to deal with mental health issues, they mostly concentrate on physical illness. I have often been asked the same question since and always tried to find a fitting example for how it feels. You can describe the symptoms, but we all tend to suffer in different ways. So just by giving my story, I do not feel that I am giving people a good idea of what it is like.

The answer came when I tried to explain it to my daughter, being only nine this was a challenge. Obviously telling her that Daddy had thoughts about killing himself was out, as was mentioning self-harming. So I had to come up with some kind of explanation that did not involve the details but captured the essence of mental illness.

I will explain to you as I explained it to her;

Take a deep breath and hold it (no cheating),

Keep holding your breath, easy isn’t it?

How about after a minute, still feeling okay?

Not so good now are you, chest starting to hurt, nose, throat? Body starting to rebel?

Okay now you are fighting, your body is really hurting now,

Still going, but I bet you are no longer in control, feel like you could burst?

The longer you hold your breath the more you will hurt, and you will breath, even if you pass out your body will breath. It is impossible to fight it.

Now imagine that those few short minutes are days, weeks or even hours. Welcome to mental illness. Sometimes you only have to hold your breath for a short time and get to breath, other times you get a quick gasp in between long periods of not breathing. That feeling you felt when you finally could breath, felt good didn’t it?

Okay now imagine that you had very little control over when it happened, imagine that someone else had the control; nervous? Imagine letting someone stop you from breathing whenever they chose. Not so pleasant a thought is it? The problem with mental illness is that whilst we do not physically have someone stopping us breathing, we do have ourselves. We allow ourselves to ignore things, bottle up emotions that we just can not deal with.

So in one instance I can feel totally fine, I can be fully aware of my problems and “accept” them. Then along will come a trigger, and this could be anything, some small random thing that alters my perception of all the other worries and doubts. It has two possible outcomes; the more common one is an anxiety attack. These can happen quite quick and despite myself, I miss the warning signs more often than not. They are generally short, about half and hour but they are intense. On the outside all can appear normal but inside I am crippled, I can still function but it takes a tremendous amount of effort just to do simple things.

The other outcome is a depression relapse, these are more significant, possibly lasting several days. Often these will be the result of a “self-hate” trigger, and are much harder than the anxiety to control. My mind will basically give me a mental “kickin'”. Every aspect of my life will be turned into a negative and as most things in life are linked, it grows. If you have ever been hit in the face with a snowball, you will know it hurts, and yet we all know snowballs are just lots of tiny little pretty snow flakes.

Logical thought becomes difficult; you can function, you can even operate perfectly “normal”, but inside you are consumed. If you are lucky you are just numb; unlucky, you are desperate for some form of release. Different people have different ways of handling the release, but very few do so in a non-destructive way. Drink, drugs, self-harm, starvation, over-eating and many other ways in which people try to escape their own minds. Sometimes they do not even know they are doing it to themselves, until it is too late.

I hear a lot of talk about “self-help”, CBT, mindfulness, meditation and various other ways to beat these problems. The trouble with “self-help” is that when you have an anxiety attack, it is on you before you have a chance. Yes, you can use these techniques to help you recover, but the damage is done. Go back to the holding your breath exercise, that point you reach, when you’re burning inside, that is the attack, the deep breath you take after is the recovery. It is kind of worse with the depression because you know that you can do these things, but you don’t. Depression saps your will to live, it drains you of emotion and feeling. You are not just sad, you are numb. In my case depression stems mainly from self-hate, when you do not even like yourself, why ever would you do anything to make things better. The vicious circle goes around and around, you can relive every “mistake” in your life in vivid detail. It does not even matter if you were truly at fault, with depression, everything is your fault. It’s raining, your fault, can’t find something, your fault and on and on it goes until you are bursting…….

So I guess when I see people advocating the “it’s all in your mind, you can do it” motivational bullshit, I really want to explain the holding your breath thing to them. People who are driven and expect others to hit their high standards and frown upon those that don’t need to remember, no one is the same as them. Pouring scorn onto a friend because they have found help in a bottle, telling them that they need to take a leaf out of your high achievers book. That will not work, in fact, the last thing anxiety and depression sufferers need is to have their noses rubbed in it.

How do I get out of it? Well for starters I use medication, without my meds I would be a complete mess, I know that for sure. Secondly I am open and honest with my family regarding how I feel, I do not hide (much) from them. Thirdly I have built around myself a good support network of people who know and understand me and what I am going through. Finally I accept that I will have bad periods, not every day will be brilliant, or even good. Some days will absolutely suck, some days there will be thoughts in my head that I would not wish on my worst enemy (if I had one).

I also find writing helps, the day before yesterday I was ready to tear this blog down. The very though consumed me and hurt me deeply, this blog is me. From just after I left hospital this blog has been my diary, my release. I have been accused of having an ego complex for wanting to share all the gory details, but in reality all I want is for people to see. I want people to understand that while yes, I am not well, I am not a psychotic maniac. Just because I have some dark stuff going on in my head, it does not make me incapable of living. In fact, if it came to an emergency situation for someone else, I would have no problem coping. I have to care more now about others, because them needing me is what keeps me going. I can offset my self-hate by doing good, I am not the best, but I will get better. One day I will have nothing left within me to hate.

Some things I have learned along the way

Some things I have learned along the way

Today I feel very thankful, I am surrounded by some truly wonderful people both on and off line. They all accept me for who I am. Despite the pain that being so open about what I have been through has brought, it has also brought me a great sense of achievement. I cannot stress the importance of having support, no matter where you find it. Dealing with mental health issues is often very traumatic and doing so alone can often be near impossible. It is very easy to feel alone, depression alone often tends to cause us to become socially withdrawn.

Dealing with my problems, facing things that I have suppressed for so long has been very disturbing. I soon came to realise that just getting medication was not going to change my life, it would only give me the time to sort it out. I see so many people on forums and social media going through their first few weeks on SSRI medications and the like, and suffering not only with their original problem but also the side effects from the medication. I have been there, I know what it is like to be constantly fatigued, dizzy, and numb both in mind and body. Many people simply give up on the medication after only a couple of weeks, not realising that most of these medications take 6-10 weeks just to become fully effective. I know some people do not like the idea of taking strong medication but I personally do not think I could have made the progress I have without them.

The other problem is those people who do take the medication but do nothing about the actual problems that caused them to need them in the first place. Like most medication, all they do is ease the pain. Taking paracetamol for a tooth ache does not repair the damage to the tooth, it just allows you the time to get it fixed without suffering so much. The same can be said for SSRI meds etc, they help you cope. If you do not resolve any deep issues you will be no different, and all too soon your life will move beyond the capability of the medication. You’re at square one again, only this time with more baggage and no means of support. I know that for some life itself can be the problem, tight finances, relationships, work etc. These problems may resolve themselves over time and this will help you, but for those who are sitting on deeper issues these will need to be addressed.

The bedfellow of depression is often anxiety, if you have not experienced anxiety before it can be a very painful process. Anxiety seems to be individual, how I suffer is not the same as others I know. We all seem to tweak anxiety slightly depending on our circumstances, that being said it does follow a pattern. Anxiety can leave you completely paralysed inside your own head while still appearing totally normal on the outside. Once it starts it is very hard to stop it and learning what triggers your anxiety is often very difficult. Often there can be multiple overlapping triggers, a simple thing can lead your mind to deeper darker triggers. Before you know it just waiting in the bank or going shopping can become as hard as climbing Everest. I have learned from my anxiety, I can spot the warning signs early. I can now pause to reflect on what is causing me to feel anxious, most times I can trace it back but not always. I have started to use anxiety to my own benefit, allowing it to warn me when my mind is wandering into the restricted section. When my anxiety gets too bad I know I must pull back, as long as I have chosen to go there it often isn’t as hard to get it under control again.

Sometimes though the anxiety will be triggered by something new, or more common, I will have overlapped triggers. I may attribute my anxiety to something I am aware of but actually it is something else that has triggered it. Sitting on emotions is very dangerous, I cannot bottle emotions anymore, not without them leading to anxiety. I have to deal with things as they happen or at least as soon as I can. Now only on rare occasions do I have to rely on medication to ease the anxiety, and I push myself every day. Meditation and mindfulness are very good at helping to control your mind and thoughts. Learning to let your mind clear is a very good thing, not only to give you some peace, but also to let you concentrate on one thing. Mindfulness allows you to reconnect with the world around you, it is very easy to become numb both physically and emotionally. Reconnecting through your senses to the moment helps ground you.

Regular exercise and a healthy diet are also very important, a thing I often tend to overlook. I am very stupid and do not eat regularly or that healthily. I know I need to correct these things and I will advance further. The “healthy mind, body and soul” thing is more than just an advertising slogan, it is amazing to learn how much of a difference just eating right and getting some exercise can change your state of mind. Drinking alcohol should be restricted to a minimum, either on or off the meds. I’ve looked for the answers in the bottom of a bottle before and trust me I never found more than an empty wallet and a bad head. Alcohol does not make you forget, alcohol reduces what little control you have, a couple of glasses may be fine but be very careful. Coffee seems to be another favourite for the masses, nothing better to wake you up than coffee. Trouble is whilst the meds make you tired the coffee can have you bouncing off the walls. Each to our own but its a good idea to watch your caffeine intake, you might be surprised.

Every day I poke and prod my illness, most days I write about it here on my blog. I am no expert, I am not a doctor or therapist. I am just like you, I write because it helps me and I have been told that it helps others. I said at the beginning that I could not have done what I have done without the help of others. This in some small way is my way of trying to return the favour. I hope that by sharing what I feel and do I can help others, I also try my best to support others on social media (Twitter). I have yet to find someone who I could not learn from, I consider myself lucky. If you are alone, come join us on Twitter #mhfriends #mhcommunity or even #mentalhealth, #MentalHealthAwareness or #MentalHealthCommunity will get you to us. As I continue to test the path ahead I will let you know what I find, I hope that something, no matter how small helps you.

David

Are we just computers?

Are we just computers?

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I often wonder how thick the user manual would be if one was issued with every person. Face it, it would be huge but then would we even both to read it. Like everything else we would just sign for it and tick the box saying we have read and agree with the terms and conditions. But unfortunately it does not exist, so when it starts playing up we do not even have a helpdesk number to ring. Even better wouldn’t it be nice if it came with a lifetime guarantee, free replacement model if the other one gets lost or damaged.

The trouble is whilst we all share the same kind of hardware (okay some are Apples and some are Windows, I’ll let you fight over which sex is which), but our software is all different. People often get upset with me when I compare us humans with thinking machines. Being realistic though what is the actual difference? We are born with a set of preset functions that control our hardware and a few survival instincts from our days in the trees but from then on we learn. We absorb information at a phenomenal rate, we unlike our computer counterparts have all these senses that help us gather this information.

Now I can see you already shaking your heads, what about the nature v nurture debate, what about the bits we get from mum and dad (egg and sperm) the good old DNA? Well yes we are given certain individualization at birth, I do believe this but think in terms if you were to be allowed to personalise your computer whilst being made? What if to make the program or basic operating system they used some of the code from each of you. Your new computer is now yours, you have put your stamp on it and made it individual. What happens next though is down to data absorbtion.

From that first breath we start to learn, we see, hear, touch and taste. We learn by instruction, green is green and hot is hot. sweet and sour and the tone of voices we learn to file this information away and expand upon it. We learn temperature, from frozen cold to burning hot, I am pretty sure everyone has burned themself at some point in their life. That is learning by example, and your body has a survival instinct for it, put your hand under a tap and let it get warmer at what point do you instinctively remove your hand? I do not know but I would imagine that while some are more able than others (I’m a wuss and hate hot water) we will all pull back at a certain range. Not all is learned from example though, some things we take on trust. We are told the surface temperature of the sun is 5500 degrees centigrade so we know it would be an instant sun tan.

Computers also know about temperature, most are programmed with an operational range which if they go outside of they will shut down to protect themselves. If it detects a temperature too hot it goes into survival mode and irrespective of how important your spreadsheet is, it will shut down. I can also be told the temperature of the sun, trust me I just asked Siri. So the more you look at it the difference diminishes. Yes, I know you are all shouting at the screen now, such blasphemy we are more than just data, we have emotions, we can choose what be believe, we can choose what we do. Right, put down your placards and think. What do you have that you have not learned? Did you learn emotions? Or did you learn how to manage emotions? To the greater degree do we not all have the same emotional range, some may manage emotions better or worse than others but we all have them.

Take fear for example, we all know it and I imagine we have all felt it to a degree. Spiders, how many of you don’t like spiders?. I don’t mind spiders but I live in the UK, if I was to do to Australia I think I would have a different feeling on finding one on the bedroom wall. Here I pick them up and put them outside, in Australia I think it would be splat first and ask questions later. Why? Because I have watched Discovery channel and know that Australia is rife with killer everything! I have learned rightly or wrongly that most spiders down there are killers so I would probably be more inclined to feel fear than I do at home.

This is a learned conditioned response to information received and processed. Just like I know that putting my hand in boiling water is going to hurt, or listening to certain music will change my mood. We as humans are full of information we have learned, either by trial and error or taken on faith. In school we are all taught the same kind of maths, addition, subtraction, multiplication and division but do we all process that information the same way? No we all probably use one of several methods of achieving the end result. Ha, you say that blows your computer idea! Not really, if my computer spent its maths lessons poking the girls in front of me with a ruler instead of paying attention it also might struggle.

This is the crucial bit, why did I chose not to pay attention? Why did I not absorb the finer points of trigonometry and algebra? Well even by the early teens I had learned a lot of information, I had been molded by all that I had absorbed. I had already had years of practice at receiving information and adding it to my expanding database, tying this information to similar information, allocating emotional instincts to it and behaving in a certain way. If I was to program my computer along the lines of what I believe, would it do the same as yours?. Earlier I said that green is green but what is your green? In the spectrum of greenness would you chose the same shade as me?.

This whole business of what we had to start and what we do with the information we gain every second after is the foundation of what we are. Our beliefs, our way of dealing with the information of life is our uniqueness. The reason computers are not like us is because A) they do not absorb information B) they work on logic. Teach a computer to absorb information like we do and then let it make illogical choices depending on emotions and expect it to not turn on till after midday and even then it will probably just sulk and demand to play minecraft.

So seven billion people on one temperate planet all making decisions based on what they feel is best. Processing information the best they can within the guidelines they have learned and all the while being guided by emotion. We wonder why we can all feel different, why some of us suffer mentally and yet when you consider that from that first breath we are just trying to cope with the information overload that is life, is it any wonder that we get things wrong. Download the wrong thing to your computer and sooner or later it will cause problems. Maybe not right away but down the line you try to do something else and it causes a conflict. So we click the help function and try to work it out, or we take it to the store and let the wizz kid sort it out.

We might even say “sod it, I’ll just get a new one”, but that doesn’t work for us humans. We can’t just get a new mind or body. We can take it to the shop and let an expert have a look at it but you have to let the expert poke and prod you to find the wrong bit of code. Can you even remember it? Can you remember all you have downloaded and processed? Would you even give up the information if you knew it? You probably wouldn’t admit to the wizz kid in the store that you might have looked at a website that you are embarrassed about (honest the Justin Beaber website just popped up) so why would you tell a Doctor that you once had a traumatic experience? In fact would you even know that the event in question was the problem, or would you tell him that it was what you felt at the time.

People are always telling me that the medical professions answer to our problems are medication, this is true, go to your GP and tell him your symptoms and he will prescribe medication to help cope with those symptoms. Just like the wizz kid offering to put a patch in to resolve the problem, not fix it, just make it work again for a while. The next step though is a decision, look for the true problem or cope with the patch. Getting the real computer genius to find and fix the problem costs time and money, getting to the root of your problem also takes time and costs money. Problem is unless you go private the NHS has very little of both, even if you go private it may still take time.

Self help is a big buzz word, kind of like letting a recovery wizard loose on your computer. However your computer has been pre programmed to look for problems, you however have not. You might try to find others who have had a similar problem, learn how they coped with it. Put an enquiry on a forum and see what feedback you get, try a bit of this and a bit of that and see if it helps. Use the time the “patch” gives you to learn and try to fix it yourself. It will be frustrating and painful, you will want to give up. Give up though and be dependant on the patch, or just live with what function you have left. Learn to know what not to do so you can still have some form functionality, soon you will adjust.

You only have one life, you might not be able to sort out all your problems but never give up hope that you can. Many of us can be fixed, not by medication but by facing that which is wrong. No one is guilty, we are all victims to circumstance. Reach out and find others, learn from them, learn from any help you get. Fear not being judged, the right people never judge, they understand. Find someone you can relate to, find many you can feel comfortable with. Do not worry if this is from a keyboard or in person, you are not alone. You may have travelled a unique path which has led you to now, but others have trod a similar path. We do not come with a manual, you have to look for those who have had similar and be guided. Most importantly offer up your experience to help others, and if one day you manage to fix your problem, share it. Do not leave those who still are sat there clueless and frustrated alone, become the computer expert and help.

If you need help:

www.patient.org has a lot of information and a good forum as does www.anxietyunited.co.uk

Also the charities Mind and Sane are very good places to find information

The NHS Choices website has a wealth of information and on social media you can find like-minded people by just searching the hashtags #mentalhealth #mhcommunity or #mhfriends

It’s the thoughts that count

It’s the thoughts that count

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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.

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