Don’t get me wrong, I am much better than I was, say, this time last year. But there is a part of me that wonders if I’ll ever be myself again.
I have got to the point where, to the outside eye, I am a fully functioning adult. I’m back at work in my responsible career. I’m being a good mum again, and, I hope, a good wife. Deep down though, I still feel a failure.
Thats what my brain is telling me. But my brain isn’t working properly. Today, anyway.
So, if my pancreas wasn’t working properly, I would be treated with insulin. If my kidneys weren’t working properly, I’d be treated with dialysis.Therefore, as my head isn’t working properly, I’m treating it with medication and mindfulness. The medication helps both the depression and the anxiety, the mindfulness helps the anxiety. Its the anxiety that I find most crippling, so I have developed some skills to combat it, thanks to a six week course of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy. This basically gave me an alternative way of reacting to anxieties. Changing my response rather than eliminating the source.
The exercise I have found most effective on most occasions is what I call “Sensing the senses” (I’m sure there is a correct name, but I don’t know it). Basically I spend a minute or two concentrating on each of the five senses, sight, taste, smell, touch, hearing.
For sight, I look around and focus on a particular colour – I find green the most soothing. Then I imagine I am eating a square of milk chocolate, holding it in my mouth, letting the flavour hit my tastebuds. I then think of the smell of freshly mown grass and wildflowers in a meadow. Touch involves stroking a piece of material, feeling its fibres and softness. Finally hearing involves me playing a favourite piece of relaxing music in my head.
At the end of these 6 or 7 minutes, generally my breathing rate has slowed and settled, and my overactive mind has calmed.
I also made a resolution at the beginning of my recovery that i would only allow myself to stress about things which I have the power to change. If I cannot change it, then there is very little point in wasting time and energy in worrying. As I’m sure you can imagine, this isn’t always successful, but there certainly have been occasions where I have been victorious. And it IS a victory, as is every single day that I go to bed without having shed a tear all day. I’m pleased to report that those victorious days are in greater number than the defeated days.