I am really not functioning at the moment. I mean that to the Nth degree. Which means that getting and staying out of bed for more than 4 hours a day is an achievement…any of the normal functions have been unattainable.
I’ve had to start from square one, back to actually writing down the smallest of things in my Little Pink Book (a creation of mine which I recommend much more than a Little Black Book – although, whatever floats your boat!).
This is actually one of my most useful tactics: noting every tiny achievement that seem like a mole hill or even a gnat bite to healthy people, but can feel like Everest when bogged down with mental illness. Entries are frequently as basic as ‘got out of bed’, ‘took medication’ and ‘remembered to note positives’.
I know that when talking to peers, I would emphasise and truly believe that these things are monumental achievements to be celebrated, but for myself it’s funny how it’s such a battle to get anything other than big or visible achievements to register.
That’s certainly the case with my very slowly progressing fence painting project. I’ve been slowly trying to brighten the approach to the house up for my poor mum, and the neighbourhood, (see here) and today I managed to spend 20 minutes adding the (very shaky) starts of another ‘mural’ that has actually given me a little flicker of pride.
Yet deep down I know that this is no more of an achievement (in fact, less so) than remaining alive, taking my medication, not seriously hurting myself, getting out of PJs, recording my darkest thoughts and feelings, going to psychology…I could go on and on listing the things that have been so touch and go recently, which are actually bigger achievements than some simple sketches. But the point I’m trying to make (to myself, too) is how much easier it is to acknowledge achievements that stare us in the face, help someone else, or are commented on by others; that isn’t right and we need to try to stop doing ourselves disservice by perpetuating this. We need to sit down and recognise how damn hard it can be to keep breathing when suffering from mental illness. We need to pat ourselves on the back for each of the teeny, tiny steps each day. We need to stop devaluing ourselves and our achievements.
I don’t know how to achieve this, but I think recognising the need and forcing myself to start writing down every battle/positive/achievement each day – no matter the size or visibility – is a good place to start. Even when the list is as simple as this:
This is a tough old battle to be fought one tippy-toe footstep at a time. Anyone battling their own brain has an awe-inspiring amount of strength; never let anyone (even yourself) tell you otherwise.
And notice your bravery.