Being positive isn’t simple.

I have tried to explain to many people that when I feel anxious it isn’t due to a lack of positive thought, and that feeling depressed is not the same thing as wallowing in self pity. It’s not easy, and often people aren’t willing to trust my judgement on the matter.

Being more positive would be good advice if the people giving it accepted that:
1) It wouldn’t change how you felt inside.
2) That repressing how you feel and being more positive are not the same thing.
3) It’s not an over night transition.
But often they don’t, and that’s why it’s bad advice. They miss the point, we can’t change how we feel, but we can change how we deal with that, and that’s why being more positive is important.

I get particularly persistent periods of fatigue and low motivation. When it happens I want to stay in bed. I used to cry and sleep for days, which made the fatigue and depression worse, damaged my relationships and didn’t do me any good.
Being positive was not pretending I was OK, it was having a shower and get dressed, even though I wasn’t planning on going out. Some days, that was enough to make me feel a bit better and rather than stay in bed I’d go to work or sit in the garden and although I wasn’t well, I’d get through the day. Some days I went back to bed, tried not to beat myself up about it and try again the next day. I wasn’t going back to bed to wallow, I was accepting that I was overwhelmed and needed a break. Fighting (and living with) depression will always include rest.

Anxiety is not always caused by negative thoughts. I’ve had this argument with mental health doctors before. Sometimes panic just happens, I used to walk into town thinking
“I can do this! Of course I can it’s easy.” Then I’d get to the supermarket and it would be busy and I’d feel a wave of fear, and my legs would get weak or tears would start pouring down my face, and all the time I’d be thinking “come on…this isn’t a big deal, I’m safe, I just want to buy some salad.”

Depression is almost definable as a lack of positive feeling. The loss is the problem, not the cause. I didn’t get depression or anxiety because I wasn’t positive. It just happened and I’m learning to live with that, but it’s painful and it’s not easy to admit that I’m unwell. But by admitting it, I’m not being negative I’m being honest.
Pain tends to attract criticism or sympathy, and I want neither. I don’t want attention, or advice, just acceptance.

Being positive isn’t simple.

Find what makes you happy, and keep doing it. 

I isolate myself. I feel like I’m not equipped to be around people.
Sometimes I don’t struggle at all, sometimes I can barely form sentences. Often both.

The only way I can deal with it is to throw myself into it anyway. It’s amazing how easy doing something hard can be. Going to class is the most stressful thing I do some days. I try to remind myself that I’m not answerable to anyone. Maybe I’ll talk to someone, maybe I won’t. Regardless, being an outsider can feel vulnerable; there’s nothing at stake, but I still feel nervous.

Before I had social anxiety I was a very social person, despite my anxieties I still very much need a social life even though it’s difficult for me to maintain. I work better alone, but I create better around others.
Sometimes I go to town just to be around people, be part of the world for a while, no one has to pay attention to me, I might even prefer it when they don’t.
I can’t decide if it’s good or bad that I’m so comfortable in my own company, but spending too much time alone breeds bad habits in me.

When I’ve not had a good conversation for awhile I get very restless. One of my greatest comforts is listening to podcasts and watching YouTube. I watch videos by gamers and critics and I listen to podcasts of comedians and writers. It doesn’t replace people for me, but it does stimulate me more.
One of the issues I’ve had long term is that I struggle to connect with people, life, pretty, much everything… but listening to new media has allowed me to experience new information, ideas and situations with people I did feel a connection with. It’s not a substitute for having friends, far from it, but it keeps me company when I feel unreachable. It keeps me from being stagnant.

Find what makes you happy, and keep doing it. 

People are not mirrors.

No one is naturally good at dealing with a sudden (or unexplained) onset of strong emotions and stress, that’s something I remind a lot of people who judge those having a bad patch or those who are struggling with new symptoms “You’d handle it badly sometimes too, no one is meant to be good at this.”

…But some are better at policing themselves and recovering. From what I can tell this group have no one thing or specific therapy in common, which leads me to conclude there are a lot of different ways to get there. Like anything, the work it takes to do it well will be different for everyone but I truly believe it’s something we are all capable of.
I didn’t always deal with my depression well but I do now, which has made my life dramatically better, but it does come with some drawbacks. Despite being someone who appears completely functional I actually need a lot of rest time in order to achieve that, that means I can’t handle full time work (40+ hours a week) without having serious relapses, I know this because I’ve tried.
To explain this to people without depression I say that I can do anything they can, but I’m doing it with the mental equivalent of a backpack full of rocks, and often very little sleep, so I wear down faster. For some people that’s a problem. I can make jokes so why can’t I work a 12 hour shift? I’m human – I’m not cured. Even mental health is often judged on symptoms people can see. I don’t self harm anymore, there’s no visual proof on my body that I still feel like tearing myself apart, but I still experience the same mental pain that caused me to start and I shouldn’t be punished for not expressing it with a knife. The last thing I need is people telling me my life changing self care achievements aren’t enough, as though I’ve crossed some kind of social line and either need to be more crazy or more capable to be accepted.

It helps to speak plainly; I’m good at dealing with something I have to deal with everyday, that’s the end of it. I never asked for a medal, I just made my life better and kept going. The hardest part of recovery can be recognizing what works and accepting it as an achievement worth keeping to.

With that in mind, at the end of this entry I’ve realized something, I may be wrong about when to push myself or rest, but as long as I do both regularly, I’m doing it right. That’s enough.
My critics don’t know my limits, I can’t expect myself to reach their standards be them higher or lower than my own because they don’t live in the same world I do. I need to stop seeing myself through the eyes of people who don’t understand depression. They may as well be from an alternate universe.

People are not mirrors.


I’ve started a lot of blogs, second hand books, life basics, art, dear diary, and alternative music, but it was all stuff I grew to delete.
I have a lot to say and as an only child, life long oddball and young-ish person I have no one to say it to and language isn’t equipped to deal with 20 years of repressed thoughts and imaginings, neither as it turns out are blogs.

After much thought, and grumpy inner dialogues I’ve decided to write one, and stick to it, about my mental health. Because regardless of readers, it’s something I need to do for myself.  Anything I do that helps me get better belongs to anyone who can use it, I’ve got no desire to succeed and keep secrets. I want as few people to go through what I have as possible.

My history with depression goes back pretty far, I don’t know when things changed but I know I’ve had it since I was a child. I wasn’t diagnosed until I was in my teens, and even then it was seen as “a phase” by doctors. I’m now in my late twenties and am only now well enough to hold down a job and study.
I was never told what it was, how to treat it, what to expect or that it was not my fault. A print out teaching me about depression and anxiety worth 20p would have saved me time and unholy amounts of pain but they don’t bother. In my opinion, there is no excuse for that.
A small amount of treatment as a child might have prevented this, the help I needed when I was an adolescent would have changed my life, but the real problem is that I didn’t know help existed or what was wrong with me for years and I didn’t know that to get better I’d have to be born rich or do it myself. I’m not angry at the NHS I’m angry that I was denied information, and treated like a drain on the system.

All I did to get better was fight it, research it, and survive. Things I still do now. The biggest turning point for me was when I found people like myself online, who helped me to take steps forwards when I’d gone as far as I could alone. I have worked and screamed and cried and lost friends to get to the point where I could support myself and feel human most of the time. I hope it lasts. The only thing I know for sure is that no matter how many times it knocks me down I will get back up.