My word for this year is HEALTH. Whilst I intended this primarily to mean physical health, due to the fact that I had an awful physical time of it last year, I realise that health means good mental wellbeing too.
I have clinical depression. I try to ignore it, but like most things detrimental to our health, unless you deal with it, the black dog will not be silenced.
This past week has seen it rear its ugly head good and proper.
Partly, it’s hormonal. My PMS is shocking. I become suicidal and demented and I want to rip my eyes out. It is a type of manic darkness that is frightening, nay terrifying, and one I wouldn’t want to wish upon my worst enemy.
Partly, it is because I am tired. It was a long year last year, and whilst delightful, the long school holiday break has not been all that restful.
Mostly, though, it is because I haven’t really dealt with it. Not really. Not at the level I need to if I am to see any sustained recovery.
And so with my word HEALTH in hand, I decided to sign up for Rick Hanson’s The Foundation of Wellbeing course*. Rick Hanson for the uninitiated is a neuropsychologist who has written a number of books on happiness and wellbeing. The course itself consists of 12 pillars and it is recommended that each pillar be taken over a period of a month in order to assimilate and practice the skills learned.
The start of the program, January for me, is about self caring – the foundation upon which all else comes. It is about befriending yourself, being your own advocate, being your own cheer buddy, being there for yourself when times get tough.
I am so bad at this. I advocate for other people all the time, yet judge myself so harshly. Mr C will often lament that I take the best parts of everybody I meet, mash them together and try to be an amalgamation of all of the best bits of all of the people I ever meet. An impossibility of course.
The result is that I fail, time and again. It feeds my lack of self worth like a self perpetuating downward spiral. And because I am constantly scanning other people for their “good bits” and trying to apply them to my own life, I have lost my own sense of self. And that is a terrible thing to live with.
Have you seen those things that say “find your purpose”, and in it they say “what is your passion, for that is your purpose,” or “what is the one thing you would do if money was no object?” Do you have an answer ready? I don’t. I don’t have a bloody clue. I just stare blankly at the page, because I don’t seem to have a passion, a burning desire, or one thing that I would rather be doing. I’m too busy trying to assimilate traits that I feel would make me a better person, a more valued person, a less judged person, a person worthy of life and living.
And it is tiring. Oh my word, it is so tiring. Judging oneself so harshly takes effort. Enormous effort. And of course, because they are other peoples’ traits, it is almost impossible to make them my own. They are counterintuitive to who I am, yet I no longer have a clue as to “who I am” is anymore.
And so I become demented. Crazed. An internal inferno burning my mind, like a fuse lit at one end of my brain that rages through every neurone that exists until I feel an imminent explosion. It is at this point I can sympathise with those people who self harm, because it is in those moments that I feel the very same urge, though have never gone through with it.
Have you heard the story of the two wolves? I have heard a number of versions of the story, and forgive me if you have heard it, but it goes something like this. A boy asks his grandfather how he came to be so wise and so contented in life, how he always manages to see the good and lets the bad just pass on through. The grandfather looks at his grandson and says “My boy, there are with us at all times two wolves. One is full of hate and anger, one is full of love and peace. I just give the one full of love and peace more attention.”
At this point in time, I am aware that I am giving the wolf of depression, as I like to call him, way more attention. It consumes me, baring its teeth at me, orange eyes flashing wickedly at my soul. I love wolves, but I know too that they represent a shadow side to me that feels like it has control.
This is my year to wrestle back that control, to give the wolf of love and peace the attention it deserves and to find some respite for my mind that is so weary, so beaten, so broken.
Depression is such a horrible thing, so debilitating, more debilitating than most people imagine. But I can’t give up. I have to realise my quest of what peace of mind actually feels like, of what a life of meaning and purpose feels like, and until I find it, until I achieve it, I will not give up.
I hope you don’t give up either.
I have hope for the Rick Hanson programme. I like him and I certainly enjoyed my first session. It makes total sense to me. First be a friend to yourself. I can do that. Surely, I can do that.
Until next time,
* This is not a sponsored post at all.