Tag: depression

Self Caring When You Are Self Hating

No one ever told me that self hatred would be the thing that stopped me functioning. We talk about depression and anxiety, but their most powerful associate hides in us all. If you have too much of it self hatred is potent. Hating yourself can stop you from getting dressed, eating healthy foods and it can make you punish yourself. The truth is that if you completely loathe who you are it becomes impossible to live in between the lines and complete basic tasks.

The only weapon you can use in combat against self hatred, I’ve been told, is a compassionate approach. It sounds straight forward but if you are a sack full of self deprecation it is really difficult to face the world. By making an effort to self care you can stop yourself deteriorating physically and emotionally.  So you have to make yourself do things that might help- like having a bubble bath or going for a walk outside. You’ve got to do what it takes to make your body feel loved; even if your brain tells you that it isn’t deserved and you feel drained

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Self care can range from maintaining the basics of being alive (keeping yourself hydrated, fed and rested) to more creative methods (like putting on some nice moisturiser or buying yourself a treat). It can also mean doing things that simply need doing for the sake of your wellbeing- like tidying up, making phone calls or booking a GP appointment.

I’ve not mastered self care yet. Some days even doing something I really want to do feels painful. Sometimes I feel like I can’t be in my own skin. It doesn’t feel right treating myself nicely when my skin is crawling and I feel so disgusting. But it is a skill that I, and everyone else, should learn. So right now I’m going to try and look after myself until I feel a bit better. If you are feeling bad right now I challenge you to do the same.

A mouse sitting in a chair with her cup of tea and toenails painted. Copyright.

What things do you do to self care?

I Know You Feel Down Right Now

But I promise that it is okay for you to feel like this. You don’t have to pull yourself together.

I know everything is too fast and you feel too slow. The world hurts you every time you leave your bed. You feel pain physically and mentally as you bound between every anxiety-made impossibility. You feel completely awful.

So I want to tell you something: it will get better. Even though it doesn’t feel like it now and it sounds like a cliche: this feeling will pass. You couldn’t feel any worse at the moment so the only way is up. I can’t tell you when or how your mood will shift, but it will. Remember that you have a 100% success rate of surviving every tough day life throws at you. You are a fighter.

Look after yourself. The more you care for your mind and body the quicker they will recover for you. It is like having a pulled muscle. Maybe you overdid it. There are ways to make the pain lessen and you will (at the very least) feel just a little bit better than you do now. Even if you think you will never heal completely because the depression is longterm, try to master the baby steps. I’m not going to tell you to do anything radical for a ‘cure’. I don’t want you to go vegan or meditate or ‘find yourself’ in a desert. I’m just going to tell you to fuel your body with good quality food. Even if you can only manage a little bit. Drink water or juice to flush out your brain. Even if you can’t leave the house, open your window, open the curtains and get some air.

Make yourself feel nice. Get in the bath and wash your hair, brush your teeth and all the other things that you do before you go out somewhere swanky. Don’t worry- you don’t have to actually go out. Just make yourself feel great in a clean pair of PJs with awesome smelling freshly-shampooed hair. Practice painting your nails or use really nice moisturiser. Make your body feel special.

Breathe. Dearest person please breathe. Every now and again count your breath, breathe longer out than you breathe in and pause for a second in between. Get music in your ears, happy and sad. Scribble in a notebook. Re-watch anything you fancy. You need to look after yourself right now. Do the things you wish you had time to do. Invest time in yourself.

Find a cuddle. Even if it is just with a blanket or a teddy. A pet or a person, get a hug. You feel numb right now but other people can still feel you. You are still with the rest of the world, no matter how much it feels like you aren’t.

You are never alone. So many from all over the world, past and present, have been where you are right now. Find them. Get on social media, read books and watch documentaries. People are out there. The internet is a fantastic resource and people going through similar experiences can provide amazing support for each other. There will be people in the same dark place as you and also people who have escaped it using methods that you don’t know about yet. Knowledge is power so learn from them. Don’t cut yourself out of the real world though, keep talking to your friends and family even if it feels like you have nothing to say. Tell someone you trust how you feel and you will find even the most unlikely people have suffered with mental ill-health.

I might not see your face or know your name but I care about you. I don’t know if you are like me: with the knowledge that you will to and fro between this place and a better one for the foreseeable, or if this is the first time that you have ever felt this way. Either way it is frightening. I can validate here and now that what you are feeling is really tough to deal with. I don’t know the details of your situation but I know you feel broken and it really hurts. You have survived every day in the past that you thought you couldn’t. I know that you can do it again today.

Borderline

He looked into my eyes and saw the misconnections behind them.
I know in fifteen minutes he will make his chair do an audible creek;
My queue to leave.

I knew I wouldn’t pass this MOT
Just like at eleven I didn’t pass my cycling proficiency
Because I couldn’t see traffic on my left side and the instructor said “pretend”.
He asks me about what I see and I tell him,
I tell him with a knot in my throat about people
How my mind rotates in oxymoron around my spine and he
He
He tells me I’m crazy.
But that, it’s okay, it’s textbook.

It’s a bad sign when your psychiatrist says
“Don’t worry it’s not the one serial killers have”
It’s a bad sign when your head is hitting the wall again and again
And the fuckers put you in a CT scan to check there is still a brain there.
Of course there is.
That’s the problem.

The diagnosis is accept and live with it.
After all that’s the best prognosis anyone could hope for.
I’m living on the edge.
Borderline.

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A Gnome-Like Creature Has Not Told Me The Name of This Emotion.

I was sitting in my ward round meeting at *Heron Unit. Scattered around the room were a psychiatrist, occupational therapist, doctor, teacher, a nurse and a secretary whom patients indirectly referred to as ‘skinny cow’. Because she was… Skinny… And we didn’t know much more.

Last week I chose to only speak French at ward round. The week before I brought an elephant finger puppet to confer with. The amount that the professionals listened to patients in ward round was debatable, therefore all patients either humoured it or were fearful of it. This week I’m just tired. It’s 4pm on a Wednesday and I am in my pyjamas. At 4pm of any day I am in my pyjamas. I sleep all day and do mindless and isolating tasks all night until the time just tumble-tails into a non-descriptive blur. I eat the same thing every day and am afraid to leave my room.

“How has your week been?” The psychiatrist asks. He doesn’t read the letter I have handed him explaining exactly how my week has been. My voice feels shrivelled and the usual silence spreads as I feel the heavy weight of being psychoanalysed.

“Erm… It’s been… Okay.” I respond in an unintentionally vague manner as I turn my guide dog’s ear the right way round.

“Okay?” He asks. He gestures for me to elaborate.

“The black hole in my chest is back.” I exhale.

“What do you mean? You feel sadness?” He probes.

“I’m not sure. It’s just a big black hole of nothing in my chest.”

This is the way I describe feelings because to me emotions are never stand-alone words. They are so much more. They make your body feel and function differently and change how you perceive the world around you. They are the most powerful things in your universe. Plus asking me to summarise how my whole body and mind feel with just one word seems silly because I, like most other humans, have not been followed around by a small gnome-like creature holding a placard to tell me which emotion I am feeling every five minutes. Therefore- how does anyone know which word fits what feeling? My perception and experience of ‘sad’ might be at the other end of the spectrum to somebody else’s experience of the three letters.

Hence the big black hole. The big black hole that sucks up my life and leaves me rigid. Other descriptions I have given include: ‘frozen limbs’, ‘the hot coal instead of a heart’ and the ‘burning arms’. I got by in such meetings by just continuing to elaborate on my descriptions until eventually the psychiatrist stuck the described emotion into a pigeon hole with a name and kept it there.

I was shown this picture recently and it made me smile. It is a representation of temperature in the body on feeling certain emotions. Note how ‘Depression’ is cold limbs and literally a big black space spanning across the torso. I guess my description wasn’t too far out.

Feelings aren’t words. They are novels.
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I Am Exhaled: A Poem

I started letting things inhale me;
Books, films, documentaries and albums.
They restrained me from thinking for myself.
Entrenched me in the lives of others.
Whether they were humble,
Bewitched
Or powerful.
I was inhaled.

During this time it felt like my own respiration was at a stop.
I no longer took breath as myself.
I hid beneath duvets and learned the ins and outs of fictional character’s lives.
Until I knew them more than I knew myself.
Day turning to night, it kept me safe.

I was deprived.
I needed air.
My lungs like crumpled paper bags trying to inflate.
My feet pounding the fields and my heart ricochetting in its cage,
In an effort to self-resuscitate.
And then I could feel it,
Pounding in my ears and burning through my veins.

I’m running.
It’s behind.
I’m sprinting.
To the boundaries undefined.
I fall.
My lap is un-timed.

There it sits,
Over my senses like a mask.
Forcing the air into me.
Whether I want it or not.

The colours are bright and the smell embraces,
The petals kiss my hands and the herbs rub against my fingers like affectionate kittens.
I flop back on the grass and admire the nothing above me.
And how beautiful simple nothing can be.
And how lucky I am to have found it.

I can move.
I spin and walk and make my fingers dance on the surface of the pond.
I carefully stroke the baby apple tree and I can feel it respire between my index finger and thumb.

And then I had broken free.
And I was exhaled.

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