Inspiration

Not entirely sure what to write about today. I’m finally seeing a (small) difference in myself physically as a result of going to the gym regularly, and it feels fantastic! I mean, it’s not like I’ve lost loads of weight or anything, but it’s enough that I can tell the exercise is making a difference, and that helps me keep my motivation up. There’s a quote on the wall in my gym that says something to the effect of: “One of life’s greatest achievements is knowing that, two weeks ago, your body couldn’t do what it just did.” I see that quote almost every day and I’m really starting to be able to attest to that myself. I can exercise harder and for longer now than I could when I started, and I’m sure my endurance will keep increasing.

Something else that is inspiring me lately is my little brother. I say ‘little’ but he isn’t really, not anymore; he’s 18 years old and over 6ft tall. But he’ll always be my little brother. Recently he left to serve in my church for two years, he’s in the US at the moment to study and prepare, and in a few weeks he’ll be moving to Latvia where his actual assignment is. He emails us every week and I’m just blown away by how amazing he is. He’s so brave and determined. It’s not easy, what he’s doing. He’s left home for two years to teach people about what we believe in, and to top it off he’ll be doing it in a foreign language he’s had no previous experience speaking. But he’s taking it all in his stride, refusing to be overcome by homesickness or the massive changes his life is undergoing. He’s staying strong, and in his emails his main point is always to tell us about the things he’s learning. I miss him so much but I’m so grateful for him and so proud of him.

I know I have a lot to be grateful for and even though it’s tough to remember that sometimes, I’m glad there are times when I can.

Advertisements

The Third Kind

I find that trying to articulate aspects of depression helps me to understand myself better. It gives me a perspective. I don’t feel this way right now, but I like to write about how I have felt at times. And here you have it, something that I’ve written that goes some way towards describing one of the things depression does to you…

 

There are times when I know what to say, when the words flow from me like snatches of a song, and they work together as a harmony; they work.

But then there are times when I have no idea what to say. When words fail me and feelings overwhelm me and I can’t get the air in my lungs to voice a single thing. The world swirls around me in a relentless whirlpool and the words slip from my fingers before I can get a hold on them. The words are everywhere but always beyond my reach.

And then there’s a third type of moment, a time when the words fail, but not because there are too many. Words fail because they are not there to draw upon. They don’t exist. There is nothing but emptiness and cold and a blank canvas.

I think this third kind is the most disquieting. What do you say when you feel nothing? It is an aspect of depression people rarely speak of. People know about the crushing misery, the devastating hopelessness, the mental and physical pain of shattered dreams and life and meaning. But there’s something else depression has in its arsenal, a less well known weapon; sometimes it takes everything. It sucks you dry and leaves you a husk, a shell that looks like a person. Sometimes the only thing you can feel (if it can be called feeling) is this intense lethargy, this complete lack of interest. You want to cry, but you can’t. You are numb, a weak and ineffectual shadow. You want to cry and scream and shout because anything would be better than this cruel wasteland. It’s like you’re still in agony, every breath and blink still hurts, but you’re disconnected from it. You are floating an inch above yourself, close enough to feel the pain but incapable of expressing it.

I think this is one of depression’s worst moves. Because then the numbness will suddenly disappear without warning, but you can’t feel relieved because the full extent of the pain and despair is back with a vengeance. With depression you are always selfish, in the sense that you cannot see anything beyond your own suffering. You can try, and you can glimpse the outside world, but always from a distance. Other people’s mental-illness-free lives are like a myth, they’re there but untouchable, unreachable.

One thing though: there is hope. If you feel like this, if every day is a struggle, trust me it can get better, because it has for me. I’m not ‘better’, but I have made progress and I know you can too.

 

Meaning Something

Another day, another blog post apparently. I’m not committing to doing this every day, but it seems to help and I’m not going to turn that down.

I’ve started doing vocal journal entries on my phone fairly recently. I just switch on the voice recorder and then lock the screen and hold my phone to my ear as if I’m talking to someone, and then I talk. I generally do it when I’m out walking somewhere, and as well as it being therapeutic to talk about whatever takes my fancy, it doubles as a good excuse not to interact with people because they think I’m on the phone. I figure it’s unlikely that anyone other than me will ever listen to these entries (and me ever listening to them is also unlikely), so that kind of takes the pressure off. I don’t have to make sense, I don’t even have to speak coherently. I can say whatever. It helps me to figure out how I feel about things. It gives me the illusion of having a friend to talk to. It gives me the sense that I matter, because I’m making a record of something and people don’t generally record things that aren’t important or meaningful. I also have this vague idea as I’m talking that maybe one day my kids or grandkids will listen to my entries, and that helps too because it means I try to pull things out of my life to mention that I feel might be significant.

I think it also has a kind of romance to it; I’ve always liked the idea of time capsules and things like that. Something where you can have a window into the past, a snapshot of a real time that really happened. Sometimes I think life just plods on by, minute by minute and second by second, and we don’t really care. I know I often just while away hours waiting for the next thing to happen to me.

I like to think that one day I’ll be better. Or at least that anxiety and depression won’t have such a hold on my life, won’t be the poison that it is now, seeping into and polluting every aspect of me. And then when/if that happens, I think I would enjoy looking back at my life as it is now, to see how far I’ve come.  I think I would like to hear my own voice speaking to me from my past, with the added perspective that time and experience brings.

Or not. Who knows, maybe I’ll never have a use for these entries ever again.  Maybe they’ll stay on my phone handset and gather dust in a box somewhere as life and technology moves on, forgotten and meaningless.

But regardless, it helps me now, so I’ll keep doing it. You’ve got to take what you can get, especially when you don’t get much because of the steel grip mental illness has on your life. If there is something that brings you happiness, or peace, or even respite from the pain, take it. Because that means something.

Progress?

So apparently it’s been around two years since my last blog post. I’m not sure why I stopped, and I’m not exactly sure if I’m ‘starting’ again. But I am writing now.

Two years and I could say it doesn’t feel like much has changed…but that would be a lie. I think I’m finally making progress. I still have dark times and hopeless times and times where the world is caving in on me (and times when I want it to), but if I compare who I am now with who I was two years ago, I think there has been improvement.

To start with, I’m more confident. I joined a gym recently (which was terrifying but I’m so glad I did it) and that has helped me feel a lot better about myself. I’m still overweight and to my own eyes unattractive, but exercise has helped me feel more attractive, and even though I recognise these things take time I know I’m on a track to having a body that will no longer repulse me. Another benefit of going to the gym is that I have something in my life that is mine, something that I’m doing by myself and for myself. This is my thing, my place, somewhere I don’t have to worry about the children. My husband has been really supportive of me doing this even though it gives us less time together and I appreciate that.

My sister had a baby recently and that’s given me more of a sense of purpose. Whenever I hold him I remember that actually this is something I have achieved- having children. Even though I often feel like a complete failure as a mother, my children are alive and generally happy, so that’s a kind of success, right? I know I don’t take them out as much as other mothers or do as much with them, but they know I love them (I hope) and as time goes by I am venturing further from my comfort zone (or maybe it’s more accurate to say that my comfort zone is expanding).

My parents are officially divorced now. Even though that still hurts I think I’m through my grieving period. I rarely talk to my mum anymore but I’m done grieving the loss of that relationship too, I think. Sure, I wish I had a mother I could talk to, but the fact is I don’t really. She hasn’t acted like a mother in a long time and I think I’ve accepted that as much as I can. The pain won’t ever go away completely. I still find it hard to say her name, and I’ve come to the realisation that that might be because I don’t view her as my mother, so calling her ‘mum’ feels like a physical barrier in my throat/head that I have to make a concerted effort to bypass. My dad is also moving house in a few weeks and that is something I’m finding pretty difficult. I am angry at my mum for (in my view) forcing him to sell the house because of her own selfish desires. She could have settled differently. But what’s done is done and now he has sold the home I grew up in from the age of 8. I avoid thinking about it too much because that pain is still very raw and difficult. I think though that this has helped sever my relationship with my mother. Our relationship was getting better but since she’s done this I have felt more anger towards her that I can’t articulate to her, so I’ve kind of given up trying and settled for the fake, superficial relationship I swore I would never have with her.

Anyway. That stuff is pretty negative so I’m going to move this post on to other things. My marriage is still strong. We’ve had our issues and it’s not easy but I’m definitely happy at the moment so that’s a very good thing. My insecurities are not gone but they have faded considerably, and they attack me much more intermittently.

I don’t know what else to say really. It’s felt good to write again, and I’ve enjoyed it.

Until the next time…

Like An Armadillo

My husband has been off work this past week and it’s been wonderful. But now Tuesday is looming (the day he goes back to work) and I feel like I’m falling back into that pit of despair filled with restless ghosts that won’t stop whispering at me.
What is the point of life?
What is the point of you?
You don’t do anything.
You don’t mean anything.
Life is monotonous and pointless.
Etc etc etc.
ARGH.
It’s just so exhausting. I just want to curl up so tight and small that the negative thoughts bounce off me when they try to attack. Like I’m an armadillo or something. A creature with an in-built defense mechanism, a tough exterior to protect the sensitive interior. But here’s the real question: how do you curl up and hide from your own mind? It’s inside of you. You can’t exactly remove your brain temporarily whenever it gives you trouble. You can’t shut it off when it’s malfunctioning. Not without shutting your entire self off irreversibly, of course. Which isn’t an option for me. I won’t give up.

But I hate this mental illness crap!

I Defy It

It’s like a weight pressing down on me, whispering hateful words and cruel judgements, accusing and condemning.

You’re not good enough. You’re a disappointment. You’re always a disappointment. You’re fat and you’re ugly and who could blame people for not loving you?

It’s voices in my head repeating vicious mantras, voices of the enemy, except if I listen closely I realise it’s my voice and I am the enemy, my mind, my self, my very essence.

How do you kill the thing that’s killing you if the thing that’s killing you is your own mind?

I hate it and I despise it and I defy it.

Depression you do not own me. You do not control me. You do not define me.

I am me and I am not you. Leave me alone. I will win.

I will win and you will die because I am more than you will ever be.

How To Live

A day when things seem to be getting a bit better. I’m well aware this is probably just the upward slant of the eternal up-and-down wave I’m living called anxiety and depression, but there’s no doubt the upward slant feels a heck of a lot nicer than the downward one.

I’m kind of afraid of this kind of thinking though; the past few weeks have been so dismal, and what if I’m not really on my way out of this horrid low? What if it will just keep on going, and going, and going…?

Argh. I hate the way toxic thoughts circle like vultures, sensing a weakness in my mood and attacking it mercilessly. I was feeling okay when I started this post. Now I’m tense. Welcome to depression and anxiety! It’s nothing new really.

I’ll just keep taking deep breaths to help dispel the knot in my stomach and distract myself with other thoughts.

My Dad said something to me the other day that made me think a lot. He said that while some people do recover from mental illness like this, some don’t. But sometimes they learn to live with it, and they learn how to live with it. As in, they learn how to grow accustomed to the fear and the pain and the despair and still exist in spite of it. And more than that, they find ways to exist almost outside of it. They can enjoy life.

I don’t know if I’ve ever really believed I’ll recover fully. I don’t know if ‘full’ recovery even happens. And that’s always panicked me. I hate the thought of living like this forever. That thought sparks panic and all sorts of dark feelings. But anyway. Thinking of what my Dad said about not recovering but learning to live anyway gave me hope, in a weird way. Because that’s something I can actually aim for. Full recovery is a bit farfetched for me to envisage, at least for myself. It seems so far off that it’s unreachable. But I can learn to face my demons and laugh at them. I can feel the panic in my stomach or the hollowness in my heart and live on still. I can do that.

And hopefully I will.

Uncluttered

A more positive day, even though it didn’t start out so well. I guess it goes to show what a difference simple things can make.

I’ve had a tough few weeks and this morning I was quite touchy and emotional. So my husband decided to tidy up the house a bit before he left for work. It worked wonders. Getting rid of mess and clutter makes such a difference to my state of mind. And he did it for me to try and make my life easier.

Life is hard but I realise I have a lot to be thankful for, and top of that list is my husband. He’s awesome.