Monday, 20 July 2015

On knowing your demons, and not being afraid to face them

I'm writing this as a test of whether or not it will help me feel better, to be honest.

I see no shame in addressing mental less-than-wellness. In an age where American children have higher anxiety levels than psychiatric ward patients in the 1950s (or so The Spirit Level told me), clearly there is something in the fundamental way that we live that restricts us, holds us back in ways that make us unhappy and sick and anxious. It is, of course, important to note that I do acknowledge that mental health exists on a vast spectrum, and having lived closely with those experiencing severe mental ill health, wouldn't begin to suggest that outlook and lifestyle alone are the keys to unlocking the riddle. This is just my own way of managing my own experiences.

I'd like to think that I'm quite clued in to what flips my switch, and I have managed to maintain a relatively even keel with regards to my mental wellbeing, albeit with many bumps in the road to be negotiated, some lasting months at a time. Mental wellness isn't as simple as 'exercise, eat well and sleep enough', because sometimes you do all of those things, and it isn't enough. 

The last couple of weeks I have been increasingly struggling. It's hard to pinpoint exact moments. Maybe it was this, maybe it was that, but at the end of the day what I'm left with is a desire to sleep all the time, a desire to cry all the time, feeling nauseous and having dark thoughts. Last night I talked about it, let all the words and ideas pour out so they were clinging to the ceiling in some stringy confusing mess, and it made me feel better, lighter, more open. 

I'm not sure if I was trying to expel the thoughts like an ingested poison, or if this trick was an attempt to form links and ideas, to 'come up with the reasons', when maybe there are no reasons. All I know is, I feel better today. I amn't yet sure if that's due to willing myself happy, or 'genuine', or if the brain can distinguish between the two. 

On days like today I like to make myself something visually appealing to eat (see below), drink coffee, take the time to reflect on how I'm 'doing' (oh, how we must always be evaluating ourselves in this life), and see how I can be happier, wholer, a more positive version of the self I was in the recent past. I don't know where the day will go, but I know that in a more general sense, in the days and weeks to come, I will emerge and feel light and happy again, because in the past I've always come out the other end and got back on track with my positive outlook. It's just a question of whether the work I do now will speed that process up. 

Take care of your head and your heart, please.

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