Taking the rough with the smooth

By Krista Mills

believe photo June 2015A recent ‘blip’ has really knocked me for six, I cannot lie. Self – stigma is rife. I feel like a failure, and I am angry with myself for, in my eyes, sabotaging my own progress. Regardless of my mood I will usually ensure that I wake up at a decent hour, shower, open my blinds to let in the sunlight, and keep my home as tidy as possible. This has recently lapsed though, as I have fallen back into the trap of showering at dinner time and living in leggings and long socks to hide my fuzzy legs. And my flat, well, lets just say that, at times, it will resemble that of student halls. I am physically and mentally drained, with the smallest of tasks leaving me exhausted. I have clearly gained weight due to my medication, but I just do not have the energy to spare for a workout on my recently purchased cross trainer. And while many people my age are going on nights out and holding down careers, I rely heavily on two power naps just to get me through the day. I cannot think, I cannot concentrate, and, at times, I will even find myself struggling to string a sentence together. This infuriates me because not only am I powerless to lead a fulfilling life, to socialise and have a circle of friends, I am also slowly losing my ability to read and write, namely to blog and finish my Masters degree. I take great pride in my writing and my education, and I can feel it all slipping through my fingers alongside my intelligence.

Its a marathon, not a sprint

During a recent appointment with my psychiatrist I was told to ‘hold onto’ the hour a week I feel capable of spending with my friend. Hold onto it, like it is the solution to all of my problems. I am ashamed to admit it but I lost my cool with him. There he was seemingly patronising me and writing out yet another prescription, while I was seated before him, clinging onto the edge of sanity. I wanted to, well, throttle him. An hour a week? How dare he. How dare he remind me of how much of a loner and a ‘failure’ I have become. Five years ago I was working, doing my degree, and going out two nights a week, and now here I am having to make the most of a weekly Costa Coffee meet up. Actually, strike that, I am being prompted to make the most of it.

I have been told numerous times that recovery from mental illness is never straight forward, that there will be plenty of ups and downs. There will be days in which it will feel as if you have conquered Everest, but there will also be days in which you cannot scrape yourself out of bed. What we need to remember is that this is all okay. When physically ill many of us will often take our quilts down onto the sofa and have a movie marathon, allowing ourselves the time to relax and recuperate, without feeling guilty. So why is this any different when it comes to mental illness? After all, the main thing is that we try, and try again, reminding ourselves that it is never a set back, more a ‘boo boo’ or a blip. It never feels like that at the time though, and I realise that my writing this is so much easier than actually doing it.

I will often punish myself when it comes to my progress, mainly through impatience. Spending yet another day curled up on the sofa serves only as a reminder of the fact that yet another day has passed. We know that a stomach bug will pass within a few days and we will be back on our feet, but when it comes to a blip in our mental health, sadly there is no such time frame. I will become easily infuriated with myself for being unable to do ‘normal’ everyday tasks such as going shopping, going out for a meal or getting my hair done in a salon because I feel weak. Tasks that sound so simple, until it comes to carrying them out. This alone makes me a key example of how trying to remain positive in the face of such adversity has become one of life’s biggest challenges. As hard as it may be, I do believe that learning to take the rough with the smooth is key to our recovery. As Michael Josephson once said, “Take pride in how far you’ve come. Have faith in how far you can go. But don’t forget to enjoy the journey”. Now that is a quote to be added to the list.

 

6 responses to “Taking the rough with the smooth”

  1. Victoria R says:

    Thanks so much Krista! I’ve had these times my entire adult life. I’ve learned to accept them better than before, but I am ashamed by these moments. I have two dogs and during these down moments I have difficulty taking them for walks or leaving the house. I don’t want to see anyone or talk to anyone, or maybe embarrassed to have people see me in that condition. I am quite unforgivable to myself, which I am trying to work on. I’m working through PTS from childhood with therapy, group therapy and books.
    Thanks for the “it’s all okay” because that’s where we need to be – give ourselves compassion and to keep trying even after we stumble.

  2. Kim says:

    I so feel you on this right now. I’ve been really hard on myself lately too, especially on bad days. It’s important to try to keep things in perspective. Hugs!

  3. Beth S says:

    Thanks Krista,all so true!
    What you wrote considering physical ailments! Right on! Also, taking naps, I usually take one a day! I need it.
    Love your blog!

  4. Jenn says:

    Thank you for sharing your story, Krista! I am struggling with the same issues of confusion and concentration. I hate myself for not being normal and for being consumed by my illness. It’s really disheartening when meds aren’t enough. We think that’s the ticket to freedom from all this sometimes. Then it’s not and it’s crippling, because where do we turn then? How do we change who we are? All I have to say is keep searching. Advice always feels crappy when you’re in pain and you feel like you’ve tried everything but I hope you will find peace in that. I hope things get better for you.
    Jenn

  5. Krista says:

    Thank you for reading, Victoria. I can fully empathise with you – that sense of helplessness and hopelessness. I am pleased to hear that you have the love and comfort of your pets though. I, myself, have a little Lhasa Apso and words cannot express the level of contentment he brings me. I wouldn’t be standing without him.

    We all need to master the art of being kind to ourselves – something which, sadly, is easier said than done. Try and reward yourself for your achievements (I will purchase a magazine or a new nail varnish). You’re doing so well. Stay proud, and keep fighting. You’ve got this 🙂 I wish you all the best in your journey.

  6. Krista says:

    Thank you for reading, Kim 🙂 We all beat ourselves up, and we shouldn’t because we are warriors. I keep a little journal of my weeks achievements, which I will then reward myself for. I’m agoraphobic so this could be something such as walking to the shops. This could be something for you to consider, maybe 🙂
    Keep on keeping on. And be proud of yourself. All the best.

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