Wednesday, 29 July 2015

Blue Monday

Ever get that feeling when you wake up and feel what I can only describe as ‘nothingy’? No enthusiasm for the day ahead, no happiness when you see the love of your life lying beside you, not a twinge of joy when you hear your two cats cuddle up to you blatantly toying with your affections for a slice of ham? No? Just me?
I wake up like this more often than I’d like. I’m working on it. I'm usually glad I wake up. I'm relieved I'm not sad, or angry, or depressed enough that I don't want to wake up. I've thankfully never felt that way. But knowing that you don't want your life to be over generally isn’t a massive confidence boost, and doesn't really make it any easier to motivate yourself for the day ahead.

Depression is a strange creature, it’s a ‘black dog’, it’s ‘a chip on your shoulder’, and it’s a motivational Facebook quote waiting to happen. But to me it’s strange, because regardless of how it’s portrayed, it's not always an overwhelming cloud of sadness hanging over you. Its ‘invisible’, like so many chronic illnesses, therefore lots of us can act ‘well’, and smile, and pretend everything is as it should be. When it generally isn’t. We often do that because it’s easier than having to explain how deeply unhappy you truly feel. That leads to several scenarios’ we don’t really have the energy or want to deal with. Here are my top 3.

1.       The sympathetic head tilt...
We all know the one. It’s both infuriating and disappointing in equal measure. It’s also expected and semi-understandable, which makes it even more exasperating when it happens. It makes people with mental illness and/or chronic illness feel ‘babied’ and that we need your sympathy and worse, pity.

2.       The patronising advice…
Please don’t tell people with chronic illness what they should be doing to fix themselves. Although you may think it’s helpful, it’s insulting and patronising in equal measure. Plus believe me, we’ve heard/tried/discounted it ALL before. See also; “cheer up” = worthy of the death penalty.

3.       The obvious boredom…
This refers to the attitude some people have when they become aware we haven’t miraculously ‘got better’ overnight. As we know, mental health issues and chronic illness doesn’t allow for a quick-fix. It requires long-term treatment and adaption, and a little understanding from those around us.

Continual health struggles (mental and physical) can feel like spending everyday wading through treacle. Simple tasks become mammoth feats of endurance and getting a handle on your emotions can be as intangible as me winning the love of Jon Hamm. It can be hard to find the joy in the things which on paper should be joy…full.  When you learn to accept your lot it becomes easier to deal with. To treat your conditions with the care and consideration they deserve, and to be a little kinder to yourself when you’re struggling.
But I suppose this post doesn't really have a nice neat ending like they usually do. That's because life with depression and chronic illness doesn't have a neat ending, or a logical conclusion. There is no ending, just adapting. And that's ok. Because that's the best we can do. 

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