Coming out the other side of a depressive episode

It’s hard to remember, what life was like before a depressive episode. In that state everything is black and white and days pass in a slow fog… I remember when I first saw the Psychiatrist:

“Are you suicidal?” 

“I have suicidal thoughts but I’d never do that to my family”

“How do you know you won’t act on them?”

“I keep telling myself I’ve got better before, and I’ll get better again”

Sometimes it was a fight to cling to that knowledge. It’s been a couple of months since I left the psych hospital and since then its been a bit of a bumpy road but I’ve been heading in the right direction all the same. Now, after completing my first month of DBT (Dialectical Behavioural Therapy) colour is flooding into my life and I feel myself waking up.
Everyday I have to work at getting better. I do my DBT homework, I follow my therapists advice, I take my medication. The work is paying off though, my motivation has improved, my attention span is longer, my mood is more stable. Suddenly I realise that I’m no longer enduring my life but living it.

Today, as part of my DBT homework I created a photo wall as one of my ACE activities (activities that give you a sense of Achievement, Closeness to others and Enjoyment)

I ordered polaroid photographs of my friends and family and strung them up as a reminder of all the positives in my life.

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Remember to look after yourself and to plan things that will bring you fulfilment.

This is a list of my ACE log

  • invite a friend to dinner (or even just a phone call if you can’t manage dinner)
  • Do something kind for someone else
  • Exercise
  • Sing along to music
  • Have a hot bath
  • Go for a walk
  • Bake
  • Write
  • Clean and decorate around the house (best done in small chunks)
  • Meditation or Mindfulness exercise
  • Setting a side a time for ‘life admin’ tasks

I consider myself very lucky to have a supportive network of friends and family around me that have enabled me to never lose sight of what’s important. I wouldn’t have made the progress I have if it wasn’t for their help.

For any readers that struggle with mental illness please take that step to reach out and ask for help from a friend, family member, or you talk to your GP or call Good Samaritans.

Endnote: This post is slightly more serious than the usual banter and for that you have my most sincere apologies (soz, not soz). Please feel free to message me if you have any questions or want to chat. I hope that sharing my experience can help others. 

Tutorial: How to please everyone

…YOU CAN’T.

It’s just not going to happen and you’re only going to make yourself miserable in the process.

(This is not a tutorial. I lied.)

I am a people pleaser. I confess. Being a people pleaser doesn’t mean I’m a sheep, it doesn’t mean I’ll do anything to fit in. I’ve always kinda skipped to the beat of my own bongo and I’ve always been a little bit proud of that. But when it comes to the people closest to me, the people I love, respect and admire… Hell yes! I want to please them. For a good time I didn’t think there was much of a problem with this. I just wanted to make the people I cared about happy, what’s so wrong about that?

The answer?

Because it’s impossible and you risk your own happiness and even your own identity whilst trying. Here’s why…

Scenario: It’s a party. Your parents, your best friend and your partner are going to be there.

  • Your Mom bought you a new dress and she’s really hoping you’ll wear it to this event
  • You promised your best friend you’d go in matching novelty crab outfits, because that’s the way you roll.
  • Your partner is going to be there and shellfish really isn’t their thing plus there is a slinky black combo you know they are going to love.

What do you choose to wear?

The appropriate answer would be: Wear what you want to the party.

But if you’re a People Pleaser like me… you might not be able to see past your need to make others happy. You don’t even know what you want!

So…What do you do when you realise that you no longer know what you truly want?
What do you do when you realise you’re unable to make a choice that isn’t swayed by the desires of others?
What do you do when you come to the realisation that all your life’s decisions, from the way you dress to the hobbies you choose, are all influenced by the desire to please others?

YOU HAVE A GIANT IDENTITY CRISIS!

(seriously, who am I?)

You suddenly realise that all this time when you thought you were busy being your own person, really you were busy being everyone else’s person! Suddenly you find yourself in Julia Roberts’ shoes as the Runaway Bride, who doesn’t even know how she like’s her eggs!

One of the diagnostic symptoms for Borderline Personality Disorder is having an unstable self-image. When I was first Diagnosed with BPD, I (very loudly) disagreed with this part of the diagnosis. I know who I am! (She said as convincingly as she could)

“Unclear or unstable self-image. When you have BPD, your sense of self is typically unstable. Sometimes you may feel good about yourself, but other times you hate yourself, or even view yourself as evil. You probably don’t have a clear idea of who you are or what you want in life. As a result, you may frequently change jobs, friends, lovers, religion, values, goals, and even sexual identity.”

for more info on BPD click on the  (Source)

I’ve come to grudgingly realise that this is true. My self-image is both unstable and unclear! And part of it is a consequence of me trying to please others.
Now, before making a decision I stop and think: “Am I making this decision for me?” which inevitably leads to another question: “Who am I and what do I want?” Usually I hear the tiny, scared voice deep inside of me utter the reply “I don’t know.” 

Not knowing who you are can be a very unnerving sensation, and I don’t have a lot of advice on how to figure yourself out, after all… I’m still working out who I am. But I figure that if you ask the question “Am I making this personal choice for me?” enough times you’ll gradually start to see things a little clearer.*

Maybe keep a diary to keep your thoughts and decision-making on paper…

Or maybe write a blog… I hear some people do that.

 

*DISCLAIMER: I have no idea what I’m talking about.

My Attention Light is Blinking

Sometimes I will send annoying texts, repetitively poke someone (in a non-sexual manner) or just generally behave in an annoying and obnoxious manner. Sometimes I just simply but my head into the person like a dog wanting love. When any of these things happen it is because my attention light is blinking.This is an actual system that has somehow gradually developed with my friends and family. I can just tell them now that my attention light is blinking and that I require love and affection. I can be quite a needy person… when I’m not busy being completely aloof.I always justify my need for attention by explaining that I have Attention Deficit Disorder and so really, by receiving attention from others they’re really just helping me with my deficit…

These days, attention seeking has negative connotations. If we seek too much attention we’re called “attention whores”. If a Facebook post is overtly emotional we say the person is just looking for attention like it’s a bad thing. Or the one I hate the most… how self-harming is a cry for attention, which in a sense can sometimes be true but it is too often said in a way that trivializes the persons actions.

I know I’m not the only person who has had these thoughts, I’m pretty sure I read a blog on this very subject not too long ago (and to whoever blog’s it is I apologise, I couldn’t find the article again to reference it). But I whole heartedly agree that asking for attention should not be considered a bad thing. We all need attention and we should all be willing to give our attention to others. Sometime’s all a person needs is to feel noticed, and if a person feels the need to hurt themselves in order to be noticed… I’d say they’re entitled to ask for some attention.

Don’t be afraid to ask for attention when you need it, and don’t be stingey with your attention when you see someone else crying out for it. Let’s all be a little bit more giving, and a little bit more loving.

Kumbaya, Namaste, Gesundheit etc…

(but seriously, it’s nice to be nice)