Stacking the scales

Today I’ve been reflecting on how surviving a mental health crisis-event is “simply” about making more good decisions than bad ones.

Yesterday, I was struggling. I don’t mean the usual lack of energy, feelings of intense worthlessness, and so forth; yesterday was about feeling completely overwhelmed, puncturing the skin in grief, watching the pain well up, and trying desperately to gather frayed threads of will to live. Yesterday wasn’t about detached contemplating the misery of life; it was snot, mess, shame, and trying to contain tsunamis of emotion.

Things were not good.

How did I make it through the day without committing an irredeemable act? Looking back, I see that I made more positive choices than negative ones. OK, there was a considerable amount of self-harm, and I spoke a little too openly to a relative on the phone – something which might come back to bite me later; those are things I regret. On the other hand, I:

  • reached out to the online support group and received excellent support
  • called a friend, who was prepared to come sit with me for a few hours
  • called my therapist, who brought both insight and oversight to the situation
  • opened up a conversation with my partner which lead to positive, workable short- and medium-term plans, and was conducted in a constructive, mutually supportive tone
  • wrote a gratitude list in the evening.

Yes, I do feel a little proud of my ninja-like survival mind skills as exhibited yesterday πŸ™‚ though I’m not sure how proud one should feel about doing things which are necessary to survive. I guess I’m very grateful for all the therapy and skills training which kicked into action yesterday.

Anyway, the bottom line is, I – somehow! – managed to choose more helpful behaviours than unhelpful ones. Believe me, I’m no superwoman, so I hope anyone else struggling will read this and feel empowered.

If frail, broken me can manage to stack the scales in my favour, then you can, too. Just choose the most constructive action, one at a time. I know this is easier said than done – I get that. But you don’t have to feel like doing them. Just make the choice.Β 

Scales

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19 responses to “Stacking the scales

  1. Cal

    Doing one thing at a time is really hard for me at the moment. Days feel long and life looks hard, so congratulations to you for making it through yesterday. I’m glad I could do something to support you in a little way. πŸ™‚ Keep going, and know I’m rooting for you!

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    • Thank you so much. I trust you know just how much your help was to me. Today’s been a sort of “hangover” day – brain still flooded with leftover thoughts / emotions / urges / hormones from yesterday, but at least without the urgency of, well, rock bottom.
      So I think I can say: Yay!
      I think my post might have sounded a little preachy this evening. I guess I felt I had something important to say – you know, the whole making the most constructive choice thing – but maybe I ended up sounding didactic. Ah well.
      The best thing is feeling a sense of future again, no matter how short-sighted. Again: Yay!
      Hope you’re able to keep putting one foot in front of the other. *hugs*

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  2. I’m new to all this so when I get overwhelmed I’ve opted to make NO decisions at all. I just get away and go to bed and try to sleep whilst focussing on battling the negative self talk. Look forward to the days when I can bring myself back from the brink.

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    • Fair enough πŸ™‚
      I’m some years into this, so we are talking from different perspectives. I still like to make no decisions at all, though. Sometimes that leads to, well, errors of perception, though – so it’s good to have the skills sort of drilled into you to minimize the errors. I guess you could say my programming’s gradually becoming debugged! (referring to your Google Analytics Rage)

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  3. awesome! it’s so important to jot down our successes. my therapist agreed for me to keep a journal (old-fashioned style – paper and pen) but reminded me not to fill it up with just negative things that have gone wrong. she really wanted me to focus on my successes as well, if not more.

    i admit it is hard at first. it’s so much easier to fill in the pages with negative thoughts and emotions as usually, i tend to go to it when i’m upset or something went wrong.

    i’m slowly, however, starting to pick the positives out from my actions, thoughts and attitude even during bad days. i suppose these things come with practice which was the point of keeping a journal with this goal in mind, eh?

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    • Absolutely! I think we practise these things a bit like a fire drill, so we know what to do when the time comes. Or maybe like a play in football – we get a benefit from doing it at the time, as well as in a crisis.

      It was actually quite difficult to write that post, because this little voice kept saying “You’re boasting! You’re boasting!” But that was just the depression talking. I was really trying to do what you said – celebrate success.

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  4. This is a great point. I’ve added it to my mental tool box – thank you!

    I only take issue with one part of your post – the part about feeling “a little proud” and not being sure how proud you should be of just doing things necessary to survive. In my very humble opinion, you can be TREMENDOUSLY proud of what you did yesterday and the choices you made. I know that when you’re in the throes of a debilitating mental crisis, making decisions for your survival is nothing short of miraculous. So please don’t sell yourself short. Take some time today to give yourself a standing ovation. πŸ™‚

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    • Ack! Sorry if that sounds too strong…I don’t meant to be obnoxious about my insistence that you pat yourself on the back! πŸ™‚

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    • (wearing a huge grin as she types)
      Thank you so much for that. It was difficult to write, because you don’t want to be seen as boasting, but yes, I guess I can allow myself to feel proud. XX

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      • The grin is a good start. πŸ™‚

        We allow ourselves to feel every last ounce of self-criticism, judgment, hatred, shame…and yet the slightest bit of pride in ourselves feels awkward, uncomfortable, and boastful. I’m making a conscious effort to change that in myself, which is probably why I identified so strongly with it in your post. To say that you deserve a proverbial pat on the back is the understatement of the year!

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      • Yes, it is very much slanted towards the negative perception, isn’t it? We add to our suffering so much through self-criticism, yet don’t add to our joy through … “acknowledging our successes” is the best phrase I could come up with. Isn’t it interesting that I couldn’t find an equivalent to “self-criticism”? Or maybe that’s yet another example of the bias!

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  5. I’m pleased and happy that you survived and those nails of yours were longer than you thought. πŸ™‚

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  6. Reblogged this on Alexis Stone: Seeing in the dark and commented:
    Worth a read

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