I have been in a bit of a funk for the last two weeks or so. That’s putting it delicately. Today I woke up, so to speak. Apologies in advance for a long blog.
Putting it slightly less delicately, I’ve been dealing with an illness. I suffer from manic depression and anxiety, though over the last few years I’ve plateaued a little bit. I wrote a blog a while back about recovery and how I had managed to pull myself in to a place of self-love and self-acceptance.
But it is, after all, an illness, and it can come back. Sometimes yes, I do reach dizzying heights of productivity and grandiose visions of what could be (for example doing more than a reasonable amount of research on how I could become Prime Minister. Yeah). And sometimes, yes, I feel low.
I won’t go in to too much detail on the word ‘low’ or how I respond to it personally, as I’m pretty sure a lot of you have dealt with it yourself in one way or another, or know someone who has. But in a nut shell, I was walking around in a fog. I couldn’t enjoy things. Anything, in fact. The idea of living all the years possibly ahead of me when the world is such a horrible place, how desperately I want to help so many causes and how little I can to do about any of them. Fears I’ll never achieve my life goals, and moreover fears that my life goals are ultimately futile anyway. A very overwhelming sense of pointlessness. And that really is the tip of the iceberg – I could do whole blog on what venomous bile Brian (we’ll get to him in a minute) spits at me when I’m in ‘the bad place’, but that is contrary to the point of this blog. This blog is about coping.
This morning, as I sat on the train to work, I had the very distinct feeling of putting on one’s glasses after a particularly extended time without them. You get used to the haze, to the blurry featurelessness. Until you put the specs back on, and suddenly the green blobs are leaves. Everything is a little crisper, and a little clearer. The sense of foreboding had ebbed, and it was like when the Grinch’s heart grows three sizes. I shed a little tear, thankful that I’d managed to float back to the top. Excuse the multi-metaphor paragraph here but it was the best I could describe it.
So I mentioned Brian a moment ago. I’ve suffered from anxiety for as long as I can remember, but only when I was 20 did someone put a name to it. Suddenly, everything clicked. The world wasn’t constantly falling down, with others failing to see it. Shortly after this, during a particularly fervent panic attack, I attempted to write in a message to a friend that my brain was being a dick, and my panicky thumbs accidentally typed ‘Brian’. Since then, he has been the disembodied voice of my irrationality. If I’m convincing myself that I’m worthless, that I’m a failure, that I’m fat, that those people laughing behind me are laughing at me – well, that’s not me saying those things at all. Because me – the actual me – well I would never say those things to myself. I am super proud of who I am, of who I’ve become and what I have planned. I love how I look, and I love what I do, and I love my life views. I’m a confident and empowered person. It took me a while to get that way (and again, we’ll get to it in a minute) but I am. The voice in my head telling me that I don’t deserve to be that person is no voice of mine, and I take no responsibility for it. That voice is Brian, the mental illness douche, who occasionally crops up to be an asshole. This coping mechanism is more invaluable than I can explain. It gives my friends and me something to blame, something to poke at and bitch about when I’m feeling out of sorts. I highly recommend it.
No, get your mind out of the gutter, I’m talking about empowerment. The thing that keeps Brian at bay a lot more than he used to be is my new-found confidence. I found it about a year and a half ago. I wish I could explain where or how, but I think I just came to realise that as long as I am doing what I care about, I’m true to my beliefs, and I surround myself only with those who truly love me for me, everything and everyone else doesn’t matter. Essentially, I spent so long giving a fuck about every little thing that…well, I ran out. I have no fucks left to give. I wear what I want. I don’t wear makeup to make myself acceptable to look at, because I’m already ‘acceptable’, that thought is just ridiculous. (Sidenote: Yes I’m aware I do wear a fuck tonne of and spend a fuck tonne on makeup. This is because it’s fucking fun and looks awesome. I do this for me, and other makeup junkies to lust over, and don’t feel the need to do it all the god damn time just so I feel I can go out in public).
This is one of the hardest parts of becoming the person I have, and I know people get pretty frustrated when I offer it as a solution when it’s obviously not that easy. So try starting small. Next time you go to put make up on, wear stomach holding in underwear, whatever, ask yourself – do I really give a shit, or am I doing this for other people’s benefit? And if it’s the latter, sack it off. If your Brian is telling you that other people think you’re ugly (which they don’t, I promise), ask yourself – does their opinion matter? The answer is always no, because those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind. Give it a go. Try doing it for a day. I promise it’s life changing. If you feel like you’re struggling with it, tweet me @UpAndGeorgia, I AM HERE FOR YOU. And for the record, I think you’re beautiful, inside and out.
Acceptance & Weathering the Storm
So now we’re on to what was different this time. Why was it only two weeks when before I’ve fallen into ‘the bad place’ for months on end, deeper and deeper, never wanting to leave the house, and on the verge of throwing in the towel?
I’ve accepted that, whilst Brian is not me, he is a part of me. This is an illness that I have. When I have flare-ups it’s like any disease. You have to ride it out. Medicate it if you need to (I don’t personally but I can’t stress enough that you should never worry about seeing a doctor asap if you’re feeling this way. It’s just like taking medication for an ear infection or whatever. It is an illness.). Be sad for a while. Don’t try to force yourself better. It’s totally fine not to be fine for a while.
My friends know, now, about Brian. So if I need to be sad, I tell them that I am sad. If I need to talk about it, I talk about it. If not, they just let me be sad. But I know that they are there, I know that they are here for me. And that’s all I need sometimes.
One pal who also suffers told me last week that sadness is like a beach ball in a swimming pool. If you try and push it down, it keeps buoying back up with fiercer intensity. If you just let it be there, accept it, eventually it’ll just float away. Sure, it could come back, but it will float away again.
Sometimes, you just need to ride it out with people you love around you, accepting that you need to be sad just now. Like Eeyore’s friends do.
TLDR: It’s okay not to be okay, your illness does not define you but it is an illness and should be treated with self-care as such. You will be okay again, you matter, you are you and that is the most beautiful thing you can be.
Oh, I also bought myself a Purrmaid set of lunch boxes from Paperchase to cheer myself up, but that’s just me. 😉