Tread Carefully In Mind

 

 

Everyone Has Dark Times .  (Personal Story)

How much of how I’m feeling is normal?   How much is influenced by the past – trauma of bad experiences?  Circumstance and environment?  Belief and perception?  How much is because of chemical imbalance in my brain?

While having a diagnosis of depression, anxiety disorder, PTSD and other ‘mental illnesses’ can help make sense of things and provide a guide for treatment and medication (if necessary).  Giving it significance beyond that can further darken things.  It can lead to the perception that, ‘something is wrong with you’.  A perception that you’re weak or flawed.   And it can be the entry point into the isolation of social stigma associated with those who struggle with conditions of mind –  and the shame of that.

(Art Harley Manifold, original in colour).

Personally, I found a sense of relief from the complicated by-products of diagnosis by separating the diagnosis from  who I am.   What remained were feelings, experiences.   And the necessity to work things out and find a way to live with and live on – with, and in spite of these.

These feelings and experiences were (are) …  the unrelenting critical head talk.  Periods of dominant dark thoughts.  A cocktail of emotions at extremes.  Sometimes unbearably intense – other times, blunted to nothing.  Anger and rage.  Sadness.  Crippling self doubt.  Panic without a cause.  Sensitivity or intolerance to light, noise, stress – people.  Places I can no longer go.

The paranoia that can play out in the head as rewinds of past moments, dramas about what’s going to happen next; unrelenting ‘what will people think?’ thoughts – insomnia.  Often this lead to seeking escape in self destructive ways that transported me far from my troubled mind.  Alcohol and over eating was a more socially acceptable cocktail that didn’t rattle the conscience so much as taking prescription medication for a diagnosed condition of mind.  It also avoided formalising there was ‘something wrong’.

 

 

I’ve been confronted many times by the seriousness of leaving conditions of  mind unexplored in a supportive way. Unmended.  Under-medicated.   Masked by denial.  Over the past 20 years I’ve found medication enables me to implement and maintain change in my life.  It restrains the voice in my head – frees me from the insomnia that distorts the world.  It’s not a solution for everyone – just my personal experience.

What’s been vital  is to having a ‘qualified’ person (counsellor/therapist) to talk to, work things out with – and to be heard.   But ‘seeking help’ also carries the social stigma of ‘something’s wrong with you’.  Flipping that to ‘working things out’ when ‘things aren’t right’ helps to feel more empowered by the process of having someone to talk to rather than feeling diminished by how that is so often culturally perceived.

Also vital is having someone close who you can be honest with and be supported by on a day to day basis.  Watch for the signs of you not being in a good space.

Rather than putting up a fight against the struggle, sometimes accepting or surrendering to the struggle (not the same as giving up) can bring relief – and some time to work things out.

It’s ok to STOP.   It’s ok to surrender for a while.   It’s ok not to feel ok.   It’s ok to take time to sort things out.    It’s okay to put your hand up for help.  It’s okay to retreat for a while.   It’s ok to be the sensitive, vulnerable you right now and not be like everyone else.  It’s ok to create and take the time and space to slow down and be really mindful about what’s going on in your head and life.

Do some quiet, achievable things that lift your mood. Which can be majorly difficult.  Just getting out of the house can feel impossible.  But pushing through that builds strength and resilience for the next time you may find yourself back where you feel you started.

And that’s not failure.  It’s part of the cycle of things.  Things come and go and come back again.  Things also, in time, pass.  The notion of endlessness can be strangely consoling because it’s the opposite to being stuck.  There’s movement and change in cycles.  And you gain a sense of trust and hopefulness from coming through and out the other side each time.

See also, ‘Dear Me’.