Hindsight enables us to be glib, it also enables us to learn. I’m still hoping for the latter.
I’ve been struggling the last week or so – looking back, the signs were there. After c. 30 years of attempting to manage a mental illness, you would have thought I’d recognise signs of the ‘creeping dread’… Things came to head literally and metaphorically with a particularly unpleasant eye infection.
Not bad on its own but, as anyone knows who has tangoed with mental illness, that’s really not the point. Things that you can usually cope with become a slog and add to the difficulty that depression et al can give.
I *know* this is a phase, I *know* it will pass, but it’s a hideous, upsetting experience that makes me want to crawl under the duvet, ball my eyes out and ignore the world. The eye infection became an outward illustration of how I felt about myself, and it wasn’t pretty. I know the tricks – this gratitude process is one of them – but it became a major effort to even leave home and the effort drained me. Perceived slights from friends increased my isolation and further strengthened the negative thoughts I held/hold about myself.
This wading through treacle has made me (re)realise that I need to reach out; now is seriously not the time to hibernate, self harm in whichever way currently seems appropriate – but to pick up the phone and connect with friends. This has meant that I’ve had to be more truthful than usual – previously I could just say ‘wanna get a beer?’ – but this time I’ve had to be honest, actually *say* that I’m struggling and that even a quick catch-up would work wonders.
That honesty has paid off. The duvet is still calling me, but it’s put down its megaphone. And hopefully, now those friends understand, the next time will be easier.
If you have a mental illness or know someone who has, I encourage you to check out Mind‘s campaign of Time to Talk – it explains the power of checking in on a friend with a quick call, text, tweet, Facebook post, email, whatever. It can make all the difference.