Recently, I’ve enjoyed (‘experienced’ is probably a better word) a substantial ‘spell’ of living without anxiety and lows. How great is that? I mean, I’ve had a few, but so does everyone. It was manageable and wasn’t debilitating in the excruciating sense I’m used to.
Old me used to believe that these mental health problem free times were just temporary. That I’d always go back to depressed and anxious me. Hence why I referred to it as a spell. Part of me still thinks it may be, just that. However, my mind set and possibly beliefs, are changing. I think it’s a result of experiences, therapy, and family support. If you’d read the article someone wrote about me (though it reads in first person) in Stylist, you’d probably think I believe that a strong part of my experiences of anxiety and depression are inherited or passed on due to my maternal and paternal mental health history. Suicide is rife and there’s some diagnosed and non diagnosed mental illness/issues involved. I also (some may say strangely) feel somewhat paradoxically comforted by my similarities in sharing some of the distressing experiences my dear mum had. Despite the intense pain, the crisis, the hurt, the deep sadness and the aching heart and chest, I felt connected with my mum through these horrendous feelings.
Now, I’m not saying it won’t come back. I know very well any inkling of feeling (normal levels of) low or anxiety and I quizzically and nervously wonder if it’s the full blown bouts coming back for a spell or for good. Yet, somehow, my optimistic and I think more rational side of my brain, is beginning to think that no matter what, I’ve learned some darn good tools to look after myself for when these times may appear and stick around.
For ages in therapy, I’d often wander and question my therapist, is this working? Still, week upon week I suffer. (This was only a couple of months ago I had this conversation). I experience intense low. Paranoia. The negative side of my brain was jointly in charge with anxiety and together they reigned. I was also so very sceptical of CBT and it’s only after it having been explained to me and talked through a few times, do I see the light with it a bit. I can actually use those techniques. I think this is really important to note, here. I feel the same about counselling from when I was a child. We aren’t always going to ‘get’ the purpose or function of mental health treatment first time round. Some might, and whoopie do for them. They usually spread light and fairy dust around others raving about it (and in some way I guess they should, and genuinely, that’s great news) yet it can either make YOU feel you’re a hopeless case when even though you know everyone is different you still question why YOU can’t get the hang of it. This could feed your poor sense of self worth and esteem and fuel your lack of confidence. Or…if you’re prescribed the same treatment and hear it works for someone else, you may become cynical and a tad arrogant staying stubborn (again, perhaps rightly so at the time for you, I’ve been there) in the belief that it just doesn’t work for you. Having come through the other end…a little bit…I would say it doesn’t hurt to be a bit open minded about it all. I guess this goes for all therapies, medication and attitudes toward recovery.
We are all unique at the end of the day. We will all experience treatment if not similarly, then differently, and that’s okay. Also, don’t time limit yourself. I was famous for, “Yes, but I’m an adult now and I should be and know better. I understand my mental health why aren’t I getting better. Yes, I get what you’re saying and I’m fully self aware and we’ve been talking through this sh*t for long enough so why aren’t I over it by now?!” This happened again. And again. And you guessed it, again. In therapy. I’d judge myself for not being ‘fixed’ yet. When in all truthfulness, I think I’ve realised that perhaps, the length of time it’s taken/ing me, is in fact, right for me. I’m still learning and I’m going to continue to. I’m in no way writing that I have the * Magic * answer and I’m cured (I won’t join the fairy dust sprinklers just yet and I don’t think I ever will – maybe that’s the wrong analogy as it’s too nice – who wouldn’t want fairy dust!? But you know what I mean!) What I am acknowledging is, that we all have a different journey when it comes to therapy and or medication and how we view it.
A non judgemental approach to how someone is getting on is key.
I want to highlight the importance that if you have ‘come through the other end’ or are a supporter of someone going through treatment, please try your best not to impose your views on what you think is right for them and where they should be by now. It’s not helpful or therapeutic. If they ask for your advice, that’s a different ball game. Just think about the terminology you use.
One blessing I count is that I think not one of my friends or family have ever tried to tell me how far I ‘should’ be in the process. Or what I should try and how mindfulness is the answer to all things in life etc. It may work for you, but it doesn’t mean you need to enforce it on someone else or criticise if they can’t get to grips with it. Real Mindfulness wouldn’t allow for that anyway, but it’s a misused buzz word and an example of what can happen when someone else finds ‘the magic cure’. I went to an evening recently where someone said essential oils are the future! I mean, I love lavender oil as much as the next person but it’s not the leading treatment in my eyes! It may be for that person though, and that’s okay.
I’m proud of where I’m at right now with regards to it all. I’m not sure how long it will last, but I’ll try and keep an open mind to how I navigate the ropes of coping mechanisms when things aren’t great.
I’ll hope the same for others too if they’d like.
Abs. 💚 x