FRIDAY THOUGHTS: THE ROAD TO RECOVERY

Friday, 28 July 2017




"Even the darkest night will end and the sun will rise." - Victor Hugo

Hello lovelies,

It's been a while hasn't it? But that's nothing new, all you loyal followers of this blog will be well accustomed to my never-ending flakiness by now.

I guess it's been a weird couple of months. As you all know, I've been home from uni after I had to intermit in January due to illness, and the past few months have been all about trying to get better, and taking on that ever so winding road to recovery. 

So I thought that to get back into this blogging malarkey, I'd begin with a little update. On where I'm at at the minute, the ups, the downs, and how I've been coping. 

I guess the good news is that I am starting to feel better. For the first few months I was home, I think it would be safe to say that I was in despair. I had scarcely felt so low, so tired, so lost, and so without hope. I was so disappointed in the fact that I had needed to leave uni for something as trivial as health, that I wasn't going to graduate with my friends, and ultimately that I'd let myself, and everyone around me down. It was at this stage that the prospect of recovery seemed impossible, or at the very least, extremely remote.

But four months later, and I finally feel as if I can say that I see a light at the end of this very dark tunnel. I guess the first step was recognising the importance of mental health. That it wasn't 'trivial', or less valid than physical illness, but that depression is very real, and can have a very profound impact on life. I think it's important for anyone with depression to try and separate the illness from their personality, which is something I often found difficult. I found it hard to determine when I was just being lazy, or selfish, or moody, as opposed to seeing these things as symptomatic of depression. I think I'll do a separate post purely on this very issue, because it was one that took me ages to begin to understand, and it's still something I struggle with, and expect I'll probably continue to struggle with indefinitely. 

You may also be aware that I was prescribed anti-depressants, and after some adjustments with the dosage of my medication (called sertraline), things gradually began to click into place when I started to feel their affects. I was thinking about doing a post about medication for mental health issues, because I feel this is an area that is still rather taboo and viewed with much trepidation and caution, but the truth is, without them, I'm not sure I would be at the point I am now. To be fair, at the start I concede that I probably did have overly high expectations from them. I guess I was expecting some miracle pill, that within a few days I would be this new me, full of energy and a newfound lust for life. But that wasn't what happened at all, for weeks I felt no different, and for a long time this made me feel even worse. I felt as though perhaps there really would be no way out. But the results have been gradual, and this is something I would urge anyone who has started taking them to remember. These really aren't miracle pills, it takes time to adjust. It wasn't until after 3 months that I started to feel that bit more energy and started to see a difference. 

Alongside medication I've been going to counselling and being treated with CBT therapy. It's been quite a journey, but overall, an eye-opening experience. I hadn't been keen to start counselling anyway, I had so many negative connotations; that I'd be seeing a 'shrink' and I was therefore crazy, and I just didn't see how talking would make any difference.And I must admit, again, for the first 5 sessions or so, I didn't see the point. I felt as though I was going through the motions but taking no steps forward. I guess you could say that my counselling experience has been characterised by that whole 'two step forwards and one step back' thing. I'd often achieve one goal, perhaps sitting down and doing a bit of colouring or reading a magazine, but then I'd feel as though I'd let myself down by backtracking on a goal I'd set myself the week before, such as making sure I was out of bed by 12pm. I found this really difficult to deal with, and still do. For the first couple of weeks, I remember frequently crying at the fact that I was finding it difficult to do even the smallest of tasks. I vividly remember that one of those days, my task was merely to get up and go on a short walk, one that I did achieve after much difficulty. But as soon as I got home I climbed into bed, absolutely exhausted, and simply sobbed the whole evening. I couldn't understand how such a small task had been so difficult for me to achieve, I felt like all the tasks were stupid, that I'd never be able to be ready for uni and that, frankly, I was an utterly useless human being. It's taken me months to try and adjust my thinking around this, and this is something that is all down to my counsellor. She's been teaching me how to change my thinking to try to be more neutral, as opposed to wholly negative, she's been trying to teach me how important it is not to catastrophise, and essentially, how to avoid falling into the traps of depressive thinking. Slowly, we'll start working on my own self-esteem and sense of self worth, but for now, it's really about trying to get myself to a functional state. It's difficult, and it can sometimes be easy to fall into old habits, but generally these past couple of months, I've felt shifts in my thinking, I've generally felt less tired and happier, and I was beginning to feel more positive about the future. 

And then a couple of weeks ago I had another low week, and I felt like I'd hit a wall. And to be honest, I really struggled. It was like everything I had achieved had been rinsed from my brain, and I was back to the old me. I felt really gutted, that I'd let myself down and taken so many steps back. I remember one particularly difficult day, when I had woken up extremely late so was late to get into town to run errands. I needed to get to the post office which closed at 5.30pm, got there at 5.27pm and of course, they had shut that little bit early. In the exact moment I felt everything I had achieved slip away. I immediately began to catastrophise. I immediately felt tired, and to stop myself having a breakdown in the middle of town, I fucked off all the rest of my errands for the day and took my sorry arse home lol, where I continued to wallow in my melancholy by getting into bed and watching netflix. So many old habits back in just one day, and that characterised the rest of that week or so. 

Two weeks on, I feel like I've picked myself up and I'm trying to retrace my steps, to get back to the point I had been at before that blip. And I guess all of this made me think. It's so incredibly important to keep in mind that the road to recovery is not straightforward. Indeed, more often than not, its far from it, littered with bumps and ditches and and tumbles of weed. But the thing is, it doesn't matter how long it takes you to tackle the obstacles. All that matters is that you keep focussed on your destination; the future you want for yourself. My counsellor has tried to ingrain this in me. I'm trying to constantly bear in mind the positives and negatives of change. I know just how difficult life has been and is for me now, and although taking the steps to change are hard, I know that the result will be well worth the effort. It's important that all of you on your mental health journey remember this, so that you might have the willpower to keep going. 

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On a lighter note, I thought I'd update you on what else has been happening.

So firstly, I turned 21! This was actually over a month ago now haha, and I was supposed to post a '21 Facts About Me (On My 21st!)' piece on my birthday - of course, that never happened. Is that something you guys would still like me to post? I'm more than happy to do so!
I was also thinking of writing a post entitled 'The I'm turning 21 crisis', because I don't know about you, but there was something very daunting about turning 21 and all the responsibilities and decisions that supposedly come with it.

In other news, I've also been approved by my doctor to go back to uni! This is something I'm soooo happy about! I was feeling a bit worried that I wouldn't be well enough to go back this October, but the doctor thinks I've made sufficient progress. Of course, along with that comes a fresh bout of anxiety and self doubt about the coming academic year, but as my counsellor always says, take it step by step, and day by day, and it all becomes that little bit more manageable. 

Also, on Monday I FINALLY saw one of my favourite singers ever ever everrrrrr, Lana Del Rey. She hasn't played a concert in London since 2013(!!!!), and announced a surprise show at the Brixton o2 Academy to celebrate the release of her new album, 'Lust For Life'. She was honestly unbelievable. She arrived ever so humbly wearing a simple black top and jeans, sang note perfectly, and even did a few impromptu a cappella numbers. I was completely in awe and would not hesitate to see her again. It's always magical when you see a singer you've loved for so long, right? Lana's music is actually of much sentimental value to me, seeing as it served almost as a kind companion during a lot of my darker depressive episodes. Any of you who take solace in music would probably understand that feeling, so there were a couple of moments I became rather overwhelmed when she sang. Also, if you haven't listened to 'Lust for Life' - I would not hesitate to recommend it! It's SO beautiful, an absolute masterpiece. If you have listened, what are your favourite tracks? Mine change daily, but at the minute I'm obsessed with 'Love', 'In My Feelings' (both of which she sang a cappella), 'Lust for Life', 'White Mustang', '13 Beaches', 'Cherry', 'Heroin', 'Coachella', 'Summer Bummer', 'When the World Was at War We Kept Dancing' and her duet with Sean Ono Lennon! So basically the whole album lol!

Anyway I guess it's time for me to stop wittering on! I hope any of you who need a little support at the minute found some in this piece. I know just how difficult the journey of mental health is, and just how hard you can be on yourself when you hit a wall. So let me conclude where I began, with the beautiful words of the great Victor Hugo; "even the darkest night ends and the sun will rise". Have faith in it, believe in yourself, and trust that no matter what, you'll be on to much better things. You're so much stronger than you'll ever know, so rest assured that all shall work out in the end.

So that's it for today, lovelies. I'm going to be back next week with a chat all about my disillusionment with the blogosphere and social media, probably on Friday, so keep an eye out for that. How are you all, anyway? How do you get yourself back on track when you hit a wall in life? Unrelated, but have you listened to Lana's new album? Leave me your comments below!

Until next time, 
Bisous, 

Eva
xxx

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