A (Little) Light In The Dark

My posts lately have been dark and depressing. A representation of the space my internal life has been occupying. Sometimes, even during the darkest of moments, something or someone may come along that brings a little bit of light that pierces through that dark, heavy cloud, if only for a moment. It’s during these times that it’s so much more powerful.

Today, that light came in the form of a 3 or 4 year old little boy, while I was at work. I usually work in the back office with the people I unfortunately also live with, but I’ve been spending as little time as possible in there for the past two weeks. Since they own the business and I’m “family”, I pretty much do what I want, where I want (my work always gets done, even if I sit outside doing it). Today I was sitting at the front counter doing some filing, when a mother came into the store with her young son. After noticing them (I check that it’s not some dodgy, potentially dangerous person entering the shop) I got back to my work.

You know that feeling you get when someone is watching you? I felt that. When I looked to the side, I found the little man staring at me. I love children, so naturally, I smiled at him and said hello. He didn’t say anything for a few seconds, and what came next melted my heart.

Our very brief conversation:
“Are you a angel?”
“Maybe I am an angel. What do you think?”
“I think you are.”

#DAY.MADE

Quite the little charmer, isn’t he?

That kid will never know just how much he touched someone who was in desperate need of a little sunshine in her life.

He was my own little angel today.

Little-Girl-Hugging-Boy-On-Hug-Day-600x439

Advertisements

All Around Me

Can I see the wind?
I can see it move through the trees, but I can’t see the essence of it.
I can feel it blow across my face.
The effect is there, all around me.

Can I see my growth?
I can see it in my life, but I can’t see the essence of it.
I can feel it in my heart.
The effect is there, all around me.

Kindness & Gratitude #1

It’s so easy to get stuck in the darkness, and feel that we’ll never get out of that place. To feel like the whole world is against us. Which is why it’s so important to notice the kindness and compassion that exists, and focus on those things for which we are grateful. I’ve decided to start a series of posts to remind us that there is hope. I don’t know how often I’ll write a post for this series, but I’ll try to do one at least once a month.

A little while ago, Jasmine and I went for a walk through one of the many forests in the countryside. On our way back to the car, a guy came running after us. I froze, my heart pounding. Until I saw what was happening. My driver’s license had fallen off my key holder, and he had picked it up to give back to me. I was so relieved. And exceptionally grateful. I had my driver’s license stolen in a smash and grab last year, so I know how much of an inconvenience and hassle it is to get a new one. The kindness of a stranger.

After our walk, I drove Jasmine back to the clinic where she was staying. Sitting with her on the bench just before I left, so close. Not talking. Just feeling. I felt sad. She wasn’t feeling too great, and lay her head on my shoulder. It was a bittersweet moment. I realized that we might have lost some of the things we had being in an intimate relationship, but the connection and love is still there. It’s the simple things that are the most important. Not taking anything for granted.

I was sitting on the beach a few weeks ago, enjoying my alone time, and watching the sun set. These words came to me:

If you can look at a sunset and feel the beauty of it in your heart, there’s still life and hope inside you.

sunset-journeytowardhealingwordpress

Up, Up, Up

After having had a major depressive episode over the last month or so, the past few days have actually been pretty good. I felt like just another ‘normal’ person, which, as I mentioned in my previous post, I can’t remember ever feeling that way. It’s usually either way up there, or down deep. I had some low moods throughout the day, but nothing major.

I hardly slept last night (damn insomnia acting up again), yet I was okay during the morning and early afternoon. Got two bits of good news. I got a call for a job interview for Wednesday, and my Prescribed Minimum Benefits application for my therapy got approved. Which means I get 15 out-patient psychotherapy sessions, which the medical aid will cover. So for the next 3/4 months I won’t have to pay for my sessions. Now I can buy a bottle of champagne and some cake. Oh no, wait, I don’t even have money for that. At least it’s my birthday soon, so I can have some then. You’re all invited by the way. 😛 Anyway, I got the news about the PMB’s from Therapist. She sent me a text with a picture of the approval letter, and told me that it looks like I’m stuck with her now. Hell yes! Had a nice little text conversation. She really knows how to make me laugh. So I felt really good about the job interview and my PMB’s. Good, relieved (I was worried it wouldn’t get approved), and happy… But just normal happy.

But then, a few hours later, seemingly out of nowhere… I was hit with this:

imhyperanditsfreakingmeoutlogo

I was so charged up that it actually felt a little unbearable at times. I was annoying the family, and (jokingly) got referred to as a five-year-old. Okay, I wasn’t actually annoying them, they just said that I’m overwhelmingly hyper and talking way too fast for them to wrap their minds around what I was saying (or trying to say, at least).

I wasn’t just up. I was up, up, up. So high in fact, that you would have needed a giant telescope in order to see me.

Right now? Right now I’m dropping, but not as hard and fast as I usually do. No, this time I’m coming down with a parachute. And I’m exhausted. So by the time I come to a stop on the ground (if I don’t fall flat on my face), I’ll be dreaming of champagne and cake.

Hello 2017

It’s here. A brand new year. And with it, a fresh start?

I’d like to believe so. With the new year came a pleasant surprise. My therapist sent me a text wishing me a happy new year. She had sent me two texts during the therapy break as well. She didn’t have to do this and I wasn’t expecting it. So that makes it extra special. Thank you (Therapist).

I’ve never really been a fan of new year resolutions. People are so eager and excited about them for the first few weeks. But then it all just goes to hell, and we end up feeling like failures.

So this year, instead of making the usual types of resolutions, I’m going to do it a little differently.

What do I mean by “the usual types”? It looks like this:
This many hours of exercise a day/week.
Read this many books by the end of the year.
Etc…

Many of these resolutions seem too ambitious to maintain consistently. If you’re one of the lucky few who can do this, all the more power to you. I admire you.

Here are my goals for 2017:

– Work on building (and maintaining) healthy boundaries.
– Work hard in therapy.
– Work on my book.
– Get a job. Taking mental health days when I really need them.
– Explore more of this amazing city I live in.
– Take more photographs and improve my skills in this area.
– More self-care, and putting myself first more often.
– Continue studying Psychology in my own time.

I won’t always get these right or do them consistently. But I’m not going to look at it as failures, since I didn’t commit to reaching these milestones in a specific timeframe. And it’s a work in progress. In my case, pressure leads to procrastination, overwhelm and frustration. Which then leads to self-hatred. So I’m going to be gentle on myself, with a little push now and then.

Happy (and hopeful) New Year everyone. We survived, we made it through 2016. We’re warriors. I hope this year will be better than all the others that have passed. I believe in each and every one of you.

happy-new-year

Making Progress Even When You Can’t See It

A few sessions ago, I told my therapist that I finally felt like I was making progress. That therapy is finally helping me. She jokingly asked me if I was saying that therapy hasn’t helped me before that? I told her that the seeds had been there all along, but I just hadn’t been aware of the growth until now.

Often, we don’t see the progress we have made. Hell, we may even feel like we’re just moving backward. And sometimes that’s the truth. We take a step forward, only to move two steps back. But that’s okay. That’s the thing with mental illness. There are no quick fixes. The road to recovery isn’t straight and easy. It takes a lot of work, and there will be relapses and set backs. It’s completely normal, even though it can be extremely frustrating.

When I do something different to how I would have done it in the past, Therapist will point it out and tell me to look at the growth I’ve made, and how far I’ve come. Most of the time I don’t even see what’s right in front of me, due to the negative way I tend to see myself. Other times when she points these things out to me, it fills me with a sense of pride. Because at that moment, I can see it. All the little things I do differently. All the ways in which I have improved. They’re there. I just need to open up my eyes.

If you feel like you’re not making any progress, take a look back, and you might be surprised to find that you have indeed made progress. Small steps in the right direction. When I’m in crisis, and I feel I’m getting worse or therapy isn’t working, and I just want to give up, I like using the DBT skills from the Distress Tolerance (Crisis Survival Skills) module. The Distract Skill, which is broken down into ACCEPTS as follows:

Activities – Find an activity you can get lost in.
Contribute – Help someone else. Contribute in any way you can, such as smiling at a stranger.
Compare – Compare your past self with your present self.
Emotions – Try to find a way to switch into a different emotion. Through music for example.
Pushing Away – If you can’t solve a problem right then and there, pick that problem up and imagine putting it into a box. Place it on a shelf until you’re in a better space to deal with it.
Thoughts – Name things around you. Or breathe in a word, and choose another word for the out breath.
Sensations – An ice cold shower, or lying on cold tiles seems to do the trick for me. Or if it’s raining, I stand in the rain until I’m shivering. Eat or drink something bitter or sweet. Anything that engages one or more of your senses is helpful.

I use the ‘Compare’ part quite often now. Looking at my past self, and comparing that to how I am now. It’s a very good way to see the little bits of progress I have made. It helps get me out of that crisis state, and into what Marsha Linehan (the creator of DBT) calls Wise Mind. Writing down all the improvements. It’s not easy in those moments of intensity, in the midst of the emotional storm, but once started, and written down, I usually find that storm start to slowly die down a little. Because then my mind is engaged in the current task. A positive task. Something that isn’t harming me.

Just as a side note. Using these skills in the heat of an emotional storm is difficult. Mostly because you won’t always remember them. At least that’s the case with me. So it’s important to write these skills down, along with a list of what you feel would help you in each of those ‘catagories’ during these difficult moments.

Right now, I’m treating myself to a delicious, creamy mug of hot chocolate to celebrate the ways in which I have grown over these past few months. It’s my special treat for a job well done. And even though I still have a long way to go, that doesn’t mean that I can’t celebrate the little steps I have already made.

So go on and treat yourself to something you enjoy, or that warms your heart. You deserve it.

My Universe

I’m in love. My first real love. I never thought I would feel this way. I never thought someone could love me as much as she does. It still feels like a dream. One I never want to wake up from.

my-universe