One thing I have learnt over the years is the importance of ‘self care’ in mental illness. Times when you need to stop, take a break and look after yourself . You need to be selfish and put yourself first. Sometimes you need to be sensible too.
It sounds simple but it can be hard. The tendency to feel guilty is a huge one in depression, I often feel guilty I am ‘wasting my time’ if I take time out from life, even though I know my ‘doing something’ when I feel terrible is often just staring at a screen or page in a book wondering why I can’t concentrate. I’m also terrible at being sensible. I have a theory people can be divided into two groups, those who read the instructions for flat pack furniture, check they have all the parts etc before they build it , asking for help and knowing it’s probably not feasible to do it all themselves. Then there are the others, I am one of the others, the ones who end up comically balancing bits of wood on various limbs, attempting to do the job of two people, whilst realising they put something on upside down and are missing a vital little screwy thing and will probably end up injured as a result. Doing boring things like stopping to read instructions, pah. But sometimes we need to be boring and stop and be sensible. I’m slowly making myself realise that. Self care is all part of that. Not taking time our for myself, forcing myself to ‘cope’ and asserting I should working and doing stuff when I know I need to rest has real injury potential.
This week has been a good example. I have admittedly ‘slacked off’ work but I have been hit by a depressive, weird agitated episode and I need to try and gain some sense of feeling O.K. To take time out, to do things like go for a walk, yoga, curl up with a Buffy The Vampire Sayer marathon, eating waffles whilst gaming, silly little things. If it helps you gain a sense of ‘coping’ and whatever the hell normal is supposed to be, it’s not being lazy. Sometimes I just don’t have enough spoons to manage a level of feeling even vaguely ok AND get real life stuff done at the same time. It does take energy, effort and ‘spoons’ to reach a level of coping, even barely, with depression sometimes. To stop myself slipping even further into the depths takes all the energy I have sometimes. Oddly enough it is at these times when I fizz with an awkward energy and fidgetiness that I often end up so tired, I don’t tend to sleep well and my brain is almost constant in its whirring and I get all fidgety I end up deciding post midnight is the best time to attempt to learn the crane position, as well as hilariously overestimate my upper body strength, balance and develop a huge bruise, or to reorganise bookshelves or you know do stuff that isn’t sleep. After a few days of that sort of behaviour I tend to burn out and fizzle into a lumpen mess. I’m about half way at the moment, in the managing to be utterly knackered yet wired and fidgety at the same time. It’s infuriating but I know I need to take time out and look after myself and not descend into a pit of worry and extreme self criticism; deeming myself a failure because I don’t have a Nobel Prize or some such ridiculously lofty achievement I assume I should attain due to my innate wonder and sort of forget one has to work at these things and not generally be a perfect example of mediocrity such as myself.
I know you should never feel guilty for not feeling up to anything. It’s such a simple thing thats taken me a long time to learn and which I still don’t fully realise. I know I have work to do but I also know in my current state I can’t quite manage it, I try but I just can’t. It’s not a failure to admit you can’t cope with something and need time to rest before you can. I know I’m too harsh on myself sometimes and that mentally beating my self up for being a ‘failure’ is counter productive and is not good for my mental health.
And with that note I shall shut off my laptop and make myself calm down and relax and be all sensible and stuff.