Survival

So, it’s been a while since I have blogged. I’ve been pretty unwell again, and that’s just not compatible with writing. Which pretty much sucks, because I love to write.

I want this blog to be about how I survived and came out from being unwell again. Because for a while there, I forgot all of my hard-learned techniques for coping, and I just melted down. And it was awful. But eventually, it all came back. So this blog is for me, to remind me how it is that I survived. And maybe it’s for you, too; if any of this stuff helps you, awesome. If not, just disregard it. Only you know what works for you. 

First tip; other people.

When I’m really unwell, I shut everyone out. I think that no-one will understand, and I don’t think that anyone would want to listen to my pathetic ranting anyway, so I tuck myself away. But being totally tucked away means that I have even less likelihood of being able to get out of my own head. I get stuck there – stuck inside all of the negative thinking and how much one part of my brain hates the other part, and how that means really that I hate myself.

It’s really not very nice in here, sometimes.

All the more reason to come back out again!

This is probably the one that I find hardest. Because when I’m ill, I genuinely believe that nobody wants me around.

One way to help this is to set up a private code so that those who care about me know that I am struggling. I text a picture of a red flag to one friend – another has told me to just come around. He and his wife are retired and generally at home in the afternoons, so I have an open ended invite to just turn up. I will be given tea, probably cake, a hug and listened to, if needed, or they just let me be a part of their lives until I start to feel a little bit more normal again.

So, dear me when I am ill; go talk to someone. They really, really do care about you and they want to hear what you have to say. They want to help you out. You know that you want to help them out if they have a problem. It works both ways!

Second tip; watch this. Watch it two, three, four, ten times. Make sure you listen to ALL of the words. It’s from a combination of the author Matt Haig (whose book – from which this is taken – is WONDERFUL) and Will Darbyshire, a vlogger that I really know nothing about. He sounds like a nice guy, though.

Third tip; reduce pressure wherever possible. Do the minimum that needs to get done (never forget to buy vegetables for the rabbit),and then rest. Watch good films, eat bad food, rest. Focus on only one thing at a time. If you need to shopping but you can’t get off the sofa, think first about sitting up. Then sit up – and tell yourself how well you have done. Then try standing. Just one, tiny step at a time. Be gentle!

Fourth tip; run. All the time. I know it’s too hot/cold/wet/windy and you really can’t think of anything worse and you’re pretty convinced that all of your fitness has disintegrated because you’ve only run twice a week recently – run anyway. you really, really do like running.

If even that is too much, just go outside. Go for a walk, listen to the birds. Don’t stay in the flat.

Fifth tip (in retrospect, probably should have been first) – write and pray about it. Do it NOW. Even if you don’t want to, if it’s two am or if you can’t stand the thought of it. You need to write. writing helps you to understand what’s really going on in there, on the days when it’s totally unintelligible. It WILL calm you down and make you feel better.

Even if writing means scribbling on a piece of paper until it is in shreds, do it anyway. Try and work through the mass of emotions that’s swirling around inside your head, and start to sort through it all. You’ve done it before, you will do it again. YOU CAN DO THIS.

Sixth tip is specifically about intrusive thoughts. If they are the scary negative ones that are rare, go to the internet and read about intrusive thoughts. Other people have been there before you. It will all make a lot of sense.

If they are not the negative ones but the ones that masquerade as happy positive ones that morph into obsessions – TURN BACK TO GOD.

He will not let you down – I promise you.

Read Ephesians 6v10-18. Read it over and over and over again. Feel it sink in – put on your armour. Pick up your sword by learning it again. Pick up your shield and tell those thoughts to do one. That shield will protect you from all the flaming arrows of the evil one.

Remember – you have overcome this before. You will overcome this again.

What this bit is really about, is letting God do the work. I have tried over and over to conquer my own thoughts, but I can’t do it. If I let Him in, though, He will do the work for me, and I can sit down over there in the corner, where it’s quiet, and catch my breath.

Think about the exercise that we did in church last week. Holding on to a piece of ice that is cold and hard. Just like sometimes your life is cold and hard, all of the time. That exercise made you dissolve completely into tears and just lose it.

Put the ice in the bowl, in front of the cross and watch the vicar pour over the warm water. Not hot – not scalding. Just warm. Gentle and warm.

When you let Him in, when you let Him see the problem (and for me, it’s often a case of fighting my way through the tangle of emotions to find out what the problem is myself) – only then can He melt it. But He will.

Last tip – read through the other posts on here. The ones where I remember that He loved me even when I thought I needed to leave. That He stood with me and accepted me at my absolute worst, when I seriously considered ending the life that He gifted to me. He still loved me. And that is why I survived.

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