Slow crawl

I Crawled to the End

As 2020 draws to a close, I reflect on the slow progress and how I coped.

As we enter the last few days of 2019, I can’t help reflecting on the last twelve months. For me, it’s time to evaluate successes and re-live the fond memories made; its also a time to reflect on my mental wellness journey and what it looks like. it was a slow go but I crawled to the end.

Although there were some wonderful memories made and some great laughs with some good friends, it has been a year of slow progress and disappointments. In fact, in many ways, this has been the most unproductive year of my life.

Sadly, it turns out that my recovery from PTSD has been painfully slow and fraught full of challenges. Most notably is the ineffectiveness of the medications. I have a pre-existing medical condition and its treatment for it renders most SSRIs useless. So my pharmaceutical options were very limited. I am very grateful for the psychiatrist I have for all the time and effort that has gone into helping me.

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It wasn’t all bad.

Despite zero signs of a return to normalcy any time soon, and a not so productive year, I have been trying. I have made a commitment not to sit here in my home and become consumed by my mental illness. Sure, there are days, even periods of time where I can’t leave but I will always get out there; its essential to any progress I make.

You have a choice where to put your energy.

I see progress as just that, progress and given the difficulty of my case, I’m pleased to be moving forward. Whether its been made in therapy, with mindfulness or putting plans in place to see a friend for coffee and a chat.

Looking back, I see that these things were how I survived the year; I even threw myself out there and helped with a political campaign. I learned a lot from doing this. One, I am not where I need to be to put myself back in the workforce; towards the end of it all, I was devoting less and less to it because my tolerance ran too thin. Another lesson I learned was that, when you brave the wild world we live in, there is almost always good that comes of it.

It works for me because I am the one driving the bus

Ok, so I wasn’t where I thought I was in terms of recovery. However, as a consequence, I made some wonderful friends; people I would have never have met if I had allowed the might of mental illness to completely consume me. As I always say, You have a choice where to put your energy. I take the risk, overcome my fear and do it and I don’t sweat it when I can’t. As long as I stay committed to getting better, I will always be able to follow through with plans at some point.

It works for me because I am the one driving the bus, if I can’t take on a task that day, I will tell people. I will make a meeting shorter or I will ask them if they mind meeting me in a quieter place.

So, if you have had a slow crawl to the end of this year, don’t despair. The good news is, you probably have forged memories and have moved in the right direction, no matter how slight it’s progress. May 2020 be your year, where you find more joy and less angst; less dark days and more sunny skies. You got this, just keep going down the road to mental wellness.

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Contact: The Road To Mental Wellness

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Boxing day reflections

Boxing Day Reflections

This post, Boxing Day Reflections was written on boxing day, December 26, 2019

Wow, Christmas of 2019 has slipped into the history books, leaving a lifetimes worth of memories in its wake. For me, time with friends and family is my most treasured gift. although its only hours into the first day after the festivities; I have already begun to do some boxing day reflections.

Despite this, It’s hard to fathom just how fast it came and went; sometimes it feels like life is travelling at breakneck speed, sadly, it shows no signs of slowing down. All I want for next Christmas is more time with those I love.

Firstly, in order to accurately review the most wonderful day of the year, I need to go back in time. Approximately a month and a half to be precise. During this time, things were far from jolly. As you regular readers know, I went through one of the worst depressive episodes ever! One that I have not yet completely beaten.

Types of depressive episodes

The ferocity of this mind-numbing mental illness storm robbed me of the ability to feel any joy. So, when the Christmas day countdown commenced, my soul took a further beating from the sadness that compounded on top of pre-existing sad. I fell deeper into the depths of despair because I love the holidays but this year, yet, love just wasn’t enough.

Surviving the holidays with mental illness

Winning the big day!

Those who know me and no doubt, those of you who have followed me from the beginning; know that I live off one single philosophy, don’t feel like doing something because of mental illness? Do it anyway.

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Although this was a monumentally tough thing to do this Christmas, forcing myself to live life paid off. Looking back on it now, I have absolutely zero regrets.

I’d be lying if I said I awoke on the big day feeling as though my depression was snow and somehow melted away Christmas eve while I slept; leaving me feeling the joy and excitement that this day usually produces for me.

Despite not feeling the spirit of the season, I got out of bed determined to catalogue wonderful memories that were just hours away from being made.

Boxing day reflections

The hustle and bustle of the day were a perfectly good distracting from my PTSD and depression, there was so much that needed to be done that it helped to take the edge off the angst and other symptoms.

Looking after the logistics of the day turned out to be a great thing for me. It set the tone for the day and by the time family arrived, there was a small spark of excitement, just enough to win the day.

Forge memories that last a life time

Looking back, I am grateful for that spark because it propelled me forward and made family time around the tree amazing. Finally, I could feel again. The laughter and pure joy that comes with gift-giving and time spent with loved ones were like the best medication of all.

So, there’s power in pushing through it. As long as you take time in those moments to feel the magic of your loved ones around you, the ice of your ills will melt and memories will be made. Was it tough? You bet ya! But, now that I am emerging on the other side of this holiday; I can say that I have walked through the biggest depressive episode of my life. In doing so, I got to a place where I was able to forge memories that will last a lifetime.

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Gratitude and Mental Illness

Does gratitude cure mental Illness? I think not.

As I rise on this green and mild Christmas morning; I can’t help but think about all the things I am grateful for. Perhaps its the spirit of the day, the silence of being the first one up or my first coffee that has called gratitude and mental illness to my attention.

Whatever the cause, I can’t help but think about it from a mental illness perspective and the misconceptions around it. One thing I hear often when discussing mental illness with people is this; “If you’d just stop and think about all the things you are grateful for, you’ll feel better”. For some of you, I have no doubt that this sounds familiar.

It is in those moments of mindfulness that we can feel how lucky we are.

Although I’m not entirely sure how to accurately explain that PTSD, depression and indeed, any mental health condition doesn’t work that way; I can tell you that It just doesn’t.

See, mental illness and gratitude are two totally separate things; much like the brain and your arm. They are unrelated but one has power over the other. The brain and body also have influence one another to get things done.

Although the relationship between gratitude and mental illness doesn’t necessarily work in harmony in terms of their differences, they nonetheless impact one another.

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The power of psychiatric disorders is at the root of this impact on gratitude. That being said, your ability to feel grateful oftentimes can not subdue the disorder you have wreaking havoc within.

Does this mean that one can’t feel gratitude? Of course not. One just needs to cultivate it when being mindful, while zeroing in on the moment. It is in those moments of mindfulness that we can feel how lucky we are.

Learn mindfulness

When you are temporarily lifted out of the fog, think of the things and people you really appreciate. I find this goes a long way when the overpowering wave of mental illness swallows you whole once more.

So, One this beautiful Christmas morn, I am full of appreciation for all I am lucky to have. And although I am still sick with mental illness, I am in a place where I can take on the day and feel the gratitude that goes with the warmth of being with those you love.

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