Friday, 19 April 2013

Fake it till you make it

My current mental state is driving me crazy. Haha...
 I wake up in the morning with the feeling of lead in my feet and cotton wool for brains. I get up and get started on feeding kids, getting dressed, showered and pop my three magic pills. After about an hour I feel overcome with the deep desire to go back to bed and hide under the covers. At the weekend, with hubby around, I could have actually done that. On Saturday I did. The sleep was awesome. But when I woke I just wanted more. With the bedroom door closed and my mind switched off in slumber, things felt safe.

But on Sunday morning I made a different choice. I could feel the panic and lethargy coming on. But I knew that it would totally suck for hubby to be left on his own with the kids again and that when I emerged from hiding later in the day, everything would be the same. So I did the opposite. I stayed up. And I took Ella out. We had breakfast at a cafe, played at the park and did the supermarket shopping. And it was better. I did what I would have wanted to do if I were well. Faking it till I make it.

This has been one of the most useful strategies I have learned in the journey with depression. I did a course through Auckland Adult Mental Health service for people struggling with acute depression. Basically it looked at dealing with the acute mental distress which people can suffer. That horrible feeling that has me wanting to run and hide and never get out of bed again. Or the anxiety which feels like I am about to sit my School Certificate exams or have just been attacked. That level of distress means you can't think and often the strategies you use to cope, actually make the distress worse. It is that state of either total terror or complete despair where you brain just won't work to help you and your body is paralysed by it.

The key to coming out of that state is to do the opposite or something completely different from what you would naturally do. So instead of going to bed and hiding, I went out. By doing that it is possible to short circuit the usual pattern of spiralling into deeper distress. And it worked enough to keep me going throughout Sunday.

But now on Friday, after a busy and long week where I still can't get to sleep until at least midnight, and things are still grey, I wish for some reprieve. Just a little while with my mind at peace and my body relaxed. I think that is why when feeling distressed it really is so easy to eat the chocolate, play the mindless game on my cell phone or any number of things which don't help in the long run but just give you a little break.

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