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Wednesday, 25 May 2016

Mental Health Awareness Week Post 5: Myself

This week is Mental Health Awareness week, with a theme of 'relationships'. I'm going to be publishing a blog post each day talking about different ways in which relationships with various people (or groups of people) impact on my mental health. I've struggled with depression for years now, and my journey has been shaped by relationships and interactions with others.
Today, I'll be writing about my relationship with myself, leading up to the lowest point in my depression.
I've tried to be accurate and descriptive, so don't read this if you think that might get to you.
 Is there someone you can't stand? Someone you completely cannot bear to be near? Everything they say feels like it's some kind of veiled attack on you. What if they weren't veiled at all? A constant barrage of put-downs. 
[Why are you wearing that? Why get your hair cut, nobody cares how you look. That girl you like will never even notice you, why are you getting your hopes up?] 
You don't see them that often so you don't give them much attention, but you keep bumping into them more and more. They move into your street so you're seeing them nearly every day.  
[Why are you smiling? You've got nothing to be happy about, so why should you laugh?]
It's harder to brush off now, and it's getting more penetrative, going past the superficial qualities to the deeper roots. 
[Why are you trying for your degree? It'll never work out.]
You withdraw from the world, not venturing out in case you bump into this hateful person. But then they're in your house.  
[Why are you getting dressed at all? Nobody wants to see you anyway, you've got nowhere to go.]
 You can't escape and soon they're in your room,  
[Why are you getting out of bed? There's nothing for you out there. Nobody will miss you.] 
then they're in your head. They take every little part of you and rip it down until there's absolutely nothing left of you. No motivation or aspirations to do anything; even to keep living.
[Why live every day in bed? Why be a burden on everyone? Why go on?] 
Because they aren't a person who hates you; they are a mindset that hates you. They are you, they are your own words being aggressively thought at yourself day and night.
Somewhere along the road, though, you've started to believe them. And when we believe something we look for things to confirm it; I didn't do well on that test so I'm right to question my degree. I had my heart broken because I deserved it; I'm not good enough for her, for anyone. I'm just one of those people who doesn't get to be happy, who doesn't deserve to be happy... 

So why should I go on lingering on this world?

That is, for me, how things progressed. How my relationship with myself changed from small niggling self-doubts to completely extinguishing any desire to work, to get up, to exist at all. How I went from being a little unsure in myself to loathing everything I did, everything I didn't do, and everything I was.

But I have made it out of there. I've got to a place where after posting this I'm off to my final counseling session, and on Monday I'm going to the doctors to see about reducing my meds again (It's Wednesday now, and they did reduce them! Yay!). And I'm writing this. I'm telling my story in the hope that it helps even one person. So how did I turn things around? The short answer is, I didn't. If there's been any kind of message in this set of posts, it's that for me at least there is no 'i' in 'recovery'. Cliched but true; I didn't turn things round, a huge combination of people, factors, techniques, whatever, all added up to slowly reverse the direction of my downward spiral into a more positive upward one.
It's like tying a paper bag to a speeding bus as a parachute to slow it down; one or two won't seem to make an impact on the speed, but with more and more paper bags on there that bus will eventually grind to a halt (Or maybe not, I'm no physicist). But the cumulative effect of tiny little resistances to the depression added up and I gradually became the person I am today; I am in recovery. I'm not over it, the bus still moves a bit from time to time, but those paper bags are still tied to it so it can't get much momentum when it does.

I'm grateful for every one of those paper bags; for every person who has supported me in even the tiniest way. I owe them all so much.

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