Monthly Archives: January 2013

Reality or Illusion?

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Firstly, I just want to say hello to my new followers. A hearty welcome to you all! It’s really given me a boost that people are reading the blog, ‘liking’ it and following. Thank you!

Today I wanted to talk about how hard it is to keep an accurate perspective on things when you feel depressed. I think one of the most dangerous things about depression is the way it distorts reality. When I was in the thick of it, the most damaging belief I had about myself was that I would never feel any better. This sometimes branched out into thinking I was constantly as low as it is possible to feel and occasionally I believed I’d always felt this bad. No-one and nothing could convince me otherwise.

That’s the thing about depression, it plays mind games with you. The longer you feel bad, the less you believe it will ever change. This is how you get stuck. Without the belief you might get better, you’re fucked.

I would look back over my life and the depression filter showed only recollections of awful and difficult times. I managed to convince myself that all my achievements had occured in momentary windows of release from those feelings. Or that I’d achieved them in the midst of depression. I even came up with some crazy calculation that I’d been depressed for 95% of my life.

I ran all of this shite past my Mum on the phone one day and not long after, she sent me a link to a website she’d found called Moodscope. She thought it might be worth checking out, as it helped you to track your moods daily and monitor things that may be causing your mood to dip. Worth a try I thought, so I started logging in daily. Using a series of playing cards with different emotions on, you score yourself from low to high on how you are feeling that day. Moodscope then converts this into a graph and gives you a percentage. The higher the percentage, the better you are feeling.

It took about a week of plotting my scores to see that I wasn’t at rock bottom every single minute of the day as I’d believed. There is an option to write comments about the day on your graph and I started to see that certain things were improving or lowering my mood slightly.

Of course, sometimes the score was terrible. I got 17% one day and it wasn’t good to see it laid out before me in quantitative form. However, I carried on doing Moodscope for months and I could clearly see ups as well as downs. Once I even got 73%, my highest score ever!

Doing Moodscope every day had a monumental effect on the way I began to see myself during that period of depression. I couldn’t ignore the graph findings, which showed that I was indeed capable of feeling better at times. It was cast-iron proof that even my depression addled brain couldn’t argue with. It gave me hope when everything seemed hopeless.

That wasn’t all. You can add a ‘mood buddy’ to your account – in this case it was my Mum, and they receive an email with your score every time you plot a reading on the graph. So I didn’t even have to flag up that I was feeling crap, which can be hard even with a close family member. The score would be sent and then I’d get an email back asking if I was alright. This helped so much with the embarrassment I felt about admitting that my moods were all over the place. Sometimes, it was just so much easier than picking up the phone.

Plus, you get a daily email from Jon, the guy who set up Moodscope and who also suffers from depression. He’ll send ideas, thoughts and suggestions to manage the illness. It helps you to feel less alone and gives me plenty to think about that day.

After about a year of doing Moodscope, the proof of the pudding was in the eating. I now believed that no matter how awful I felt, there was always the potential to feel better another day. It has reprogrammed me permanently and made me aware that depressed reality isn’t real at all, it is a sad and distorted illusion.

Right now I’ve not needed to record my score for 262 days, but I still read Jon’s emails daily and I will carry on. I’m so glad he set up Moodscope and I’m so glad my Mum found it for me.

Why not do yourself a massive favour and check it out? – http://www.moodscope.com

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The January Blacks.

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January kills me.

I feel like I’ve come a long way towards overcoming depression, but I always struggle at this time of year. I think I’m doing everything right, but I still feel like I’m crawling through mud.

January blues? Feels more like January blacks.

I know I’m not the only one. Apparently January 21st is the most depressing Monday of the year. I can well believe it. Christmas is well and truly over – unless you live in a house two roads away from me, where they still have their tree up. It’s dark, cold and miles away to summer.

The lack of light definitely affects me, so I always try to get outside for at least half an hour in the brightest part of the day. I’ve noticed I seem to buy a lot of treats in January, so maybe I should just pack that in and buy a SAD light box?

This week I’ve kept up with all my commitments and obligations, despite feeling like a sack of shite. I know it’s important not to let things slip, otherwise things can get very slippery indeed. I’ve taken my medication, made an effort to look presentable, kept to my routine and eaten my five portions of fruit and veg a day. One day I ate three of them before 10.30am which I feel deserves special commendation. I’ve kept in touch with people, arranged lunch dates and even wore a bright yellow dress with owls on, despite my mood being more suited to a black dress with sloths on. I have to say the dress did help a little – who doesn’t love an owl? Plus, I got five compliments on it, which didn’t hurt.

I did all this, but somehow couldn’t escape my grim reaper mood.

I’m not sure I can do much more so for now, I’ve accepted the way I feel. It’s like trying to swim the wrong way up Niagara Falls trying to change things. I’ll go with the flow and it will all feel better soon.

It always does. Maybe not through the dark months of winter, but things always get better. Until there comes a time when I can afford to live in L.A during January, I’ll just carry on doing my best.

How are you?

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What do you say when someone asks “How are you”?

I bumped into a friend of a friend the other day and asked her how she was. I don’t know her very well at all, so I was surprised when she said she felt a bit strange.. She went on to explain that she had been feeling anxious and odd for a couple of days and hadn’t been sleeping very well. Almost immediately she then apologised for telling me this and said, “I just felt I could be honest with you”. I reassured her that she could indeed be honest with me and told her not to apologise. I was delighted in fact, to be perceived in this way.

It made me think it would be so much easier if everyone was honest about how they feel. I was flattered that she had told me how she really was. I then went on to share that I was no stranger to uncomfortable mental states and she wasn’t alone in feeling this way.

It was a very brief interchange; she was en route to the Post Office and I was waiting for a bus which arrived soon after.

It made me remember my blog and the reasons I started it. I think we both got something out of this chance meeting and it seemed like the most normal thing in the world to talk in this way. It reminded me that when I feel able to share how I am, it always helps and stops it getting blown out of proportion. Wouldn’t it be great if everyone felt comfortable discussing how they are in an everyday fashion?

So I’m back to carry on where I left off. It’s too important not to.