How are you? They ask. Oh, I am fine, I reply. I see you are getting out more, good for you! My reply, Ya, it feels good to get out once and awhile. «Keep it up» They encourage.. and I love encouragement, and I love my cheerleaders.
Let me tell you a secret… I am not so fine. I have felt down for over a month. I have been living in my head, and berating myself for my looks, for what I don’t do, for staying in bed, for not working, for not reading, for not doing what I am «supposed» to do. It is heavy, I am sweating, and I really need to put it down before I drop it like a bowling ball on my foot, making me scream.
“Hey Kim, can I take that for you?”
Like a catch 22, the shame circles like a vulture eyeing its prey, until I am completely not reading, writing, nor doodling. I am inert. Void of any action… so I think…
Then I read some quotes going on Facebook which say something on the lines of «Happiness comes to those who get up, work hard, and stay focused!»
Oh geez.. give me a fucking break! Now I want to hide away.
This is an invented quote that works for many, however, when you have a disability or mental illness, sometimes these are NOT the words you need to hear, every minute of the day. Take it with a grain of salt, and do what is right for you. Right? Right!
I want to tell everyone to stop it already with their famous quotes (and I quote all the time, this is just momentary), their happy blog posts stating «10 ways to live happily ever after» and «Just get up and go» type twitter updates, which make me want to vomit. Yes yes yes, I know I know I know.. You are well intended, and I know this has worked for you, so don’t stop posting.
I have to stop comparing myself to you. Really I do!
This past month of so, I have had some really great days, don’t get me wrong, but you know what? Often, I am hiding behind my smile. What you do not see is the hurt I am feeling, the shame, the guilt, the obnoxious «put me down» gremlins are back and they are loud as hell, and pissing me off.
I feel lonely, a longing… I feel guilt, and anger. I feel rage and bitterness.. I feel envy and shame. You name it, I am feeling it. Go go go with the flow, they say, and I listen deeply and carefully to “they”.
Yet, last night, as I was trying to sleep I started thinking:
«I wonder what is going on with my long-term disability application… Oh, what am I going to do for Christmas, where am I going to find the money?» My mind wanders: «Maybe I should ask for donations again this year.. no no.. I wont do that.. people are going to think I am a beggar.. I already lost 2 Twitter friends last year due to this» «No I wont ask».. Then I continue, Oh my God, William will be 15 in February» which reminds me both birthdays are coming up…. «Angela is going to be 17, 17!!! what the hell, how fast did that go?» Then my mind literally busted into song:
«Dancing Queen… young and sweet only 17 oh ya… »
Thank God for the DJ in my head. I could have went on for long finding all the ways my life is going to suck if a miracle doesn’t happen. Which reminds me:
Miracles are happening all the time.
This is what I mean about Back to Basics in mental health.
The basics are what I did from the very beginning of my trip into deep depression. The first thing I did last night after Abba invaded my head (thank God for the music break)
Remind myself of what I did that day (not berate myself for what I didn’t do)
- I woke up
- I made my son’s lunch
- I took out the dog (at least 5 times)
- I took care of my son because he stayed home sick
- I went to the grocery store
- I made soup
- I did a few dishes
- I did 2 loads of laundry
- I gave my son plenty of TLC
- etc.. etc..
Breathe, just breathe… 4 deep breaths have a big impact on stress (very important)
- Don’t stay with all those yucky feelings. My therapist reminded me just last week that I must call when things are not good.
Pray, ask whomever you believe in to help. God, Allah, the Angels, the Universe, your deceased loved ones, St-Jude, Mary or Joseph. Ask for what you need.. Tell them your worries, and try (I said try) to detach from the outcome and enjoy your day.
Let it alllllllll out! Cry like a baby, stomp like an angry 2 year old, scream like a teenager, laugh, dance, jump, wave your hands in the air and be mad at the Universe if you have to. Go! It is ok. You are allowed.
- Last night, after stating the list in my head, I still couldn’t sleep. My son, still awake, heard something I said (I speak out loud sometimes) and started laughing.. This brought on a rage of laughter between the two of us.. cracked up and calmed down.. we both feel asleep quite quickly after that.
Love yourself. Give youself a pat on the back for every little thing you have accomplished, yes, even if you just made it to the bathroom to brush your hair! That is amazing YAY!!
Self-care Do what you feel like doing. Say no if you do not have the energy to spend time with your aunt Jane who talks too much. Say yes to watching movies all day. Got a plan, you can change your mind, you have permission to cancel on that dreaded Holiday party you were invited too. Listen to your body, and your heart, they can speak louder than the gremlins sometimes.
Finally, surround yourself with safe people. Let go of whomever is making you feel less than you are, or try to push you into being or doing something you do not feel like at the moment.
This winter, turn on some lights, stay on course, however, allow those breaks along the way. Let yourself feel whatever is coming up, and lay low. Build your bed fort, give yourself 10 minutes in the bathroom to cry.
I, for one, am going to go through the 8 crazy Basics today, to remind myself that I am loved, and even though I feel sad and lonely at times, I am who I am because of what I went through.
Happiness is part of the journey, we must have room for all the rest.