Recovery can be weeks, months or years of feeling like you are swimming along perfectly fine with the finishing line in sight without so much as a dip in the road or a current in the sea… So when you wake up one morning with weights sewn to your limbs, your blankets nailed down, feeling like you have run ten marathons in your sleep and you have been concussed into exhaustion, it is scary to think that your progress has suddenly been stripped from beneath you and thrown down a hole to never be retrieved.
A couple of weeks ago I had this feeling, I woke up with the realisation that for the last month I had slowly let myself fall deeper and darker into the clutches of a thick black pit of hopelessness and self-criticism or what I might even allow myself to confess to being depression. I am not talking about one of those bad days which I could brush off as being a dip, it has been a full on nosedive into darkness.
I have walked around each day whispering to myself “what is the f***ing point?”, I have felt angry, so angry that if someone so much as walks in front of me I want to punch them, I have felt so exhausted that on my journey home I have considered just curling up behind a hedge and sleeping there, my mind feels so incapacitated that I can sit and stare into space for hours with only the odd self-deprecating thought to pass through my mind, the last thing I have wanted is company and when living in a house with five others it is hard to hide away but I find ways to scuttle around and have minimal human contact.
So what can I do?
When it comes to ‘practicing what you preach’, I am the first to hold my hands up and say that my ability to encourage others does not always transfer to my ability to encourage myself, but I had to ask myself what I would tell someone else if they were feeling this way?
- First thing I did was admit to myself that I am not in a good place and then I admitted it to someone close to me that I could trust to share the weight.
- I forced myself to go out, every step was like dragging concrete as my whole body felt weak and lifeless, but I knew fresh air and the outside world would begin to relinquish it.
- I exercised, not obsessively for once, but enough to feel good, to sweat, and to reintroduce it into my routine
- I saw friends, not an overload of friends but I made sure I had human contact each day, even if it was a conversation with a cashier in the supermarket, to say please, thank you and wish someone a good day with a smile can make all the difference.
- I allowed myself space, my room no longer was the hole in which to fester but a place of peace and solace in the evening to escape the world, to allow myself to cry, to relax, to have a cup of tea or a bar of chocolate.
- Although concentrating on University work has been problematic, I allowed myself a break and tried not to compare my lack of progress to the productivity of others, I made life choices based on what I need right now and not as a comparison to others. By not looking at what my housemates were eating, how much they were exercising, how much they were working or out having fun I lived my life for me and nobody else.
None of these are cures or absolute solutions, but it gives me routine, it gives me something to live for and I’m still waking up feeling exhausted, I am still self-hating, I am still reluctant to interact with others but I am clawing my way out of the hole and I am living, not just surviving,