In the desert

Desert Road

Desert Road

Ever feel like you’re wandering through a desert, craving a drink, yearning to find a way back to safety? Welcome to my life.

Well, my life with mental illness, if I’m going to be precise – and I do like to be precise.

The thing about wandering in the desert if that you’re hungering for help, so when something new comes along, you really, really hope it will deliver you from the torment you’re living through. Yesterday I met with “the new B”. B had been my mental health worker for over two years, but the hospital rotated her into a new area, and that ended our professional relationship. Yesterday I met with her replacement for our first proper session.

D is a psychologist, and the difference between his approach and B’s social work outlook was immediately obvious. He took a detailed history, we talked it over, and he gave me homework! (I have a lot of homework from various sources; it’s like I’m doing a Bachelor of Dysthymia.) In the first instance, he’s going to focus on my sense of self. This is quite different to the sort of work I did with B, and crosses over into the territory I cover with C, but I don’t mind: the more insight I can gain, the better. Afterwards, I felt very, very tired, but also hopeful that coming at things from yet another angle might help deliver relief.

Back to the desert. The above photo was taken many years ago in outback Australia. Seen from the sky, this part of Australia looks bare and devoid of life, as though there are just a few scraggly bushes clinging to life around depressions in the ground. This photo tells a different story – we can see a variety of grasses, low-lying bushes, even a stunted tree in the foreground. If we were to look even closer, we’d see insects, tiny animals, seeds, many small plants – a complex ecosystem. It may not be the Amazon rainforest, but there’s still plenty of life to be found.

I must admit that my mood’s heading downwards again. I feel helpless in the face of so many stressors in my life. Economic pressures dictate that I must find some way to bring more money into our household, but I know I can’t hold down a “real job” right now. (Does anyone know how you actually go about selling a kidney? Or become a surrogate? I’m serious. I would never sell drugs, and unfortunately, I don’t think I’m cut out for prostitution.) I feel personal despair over my chronic procrastination and apparent inability to complete certain long-term projects, and about how I keep postponing my weight-loss efforts. Jeez, I can’t even reply to emails in a timely manner!

In the face of such a “desert” mentality, which focusses on my many apparent failings and unmet needs, a helpful thing is to zoom in on the multitude of blessings in the present moment. I’m writing, which I love; I’m drinking my first cup of tea for the day; I’m redeeming a voucher and having a pedicure later this morning; I’m thrashing a few people at Words With Friends, and I’m catching up with a friend this afternoon.

I have chosen my path out of depression (my multi-pronged approach), it’s a tried and true path which will lead me to better mental health and less suffering, and I am determined to stick with it.

I can’t honestly say things seem better for having typed that, but the present moment has certainly improved. That’s worthy of a “yay”!

14 Comments

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14 responses to “In the desert

  1. I was find it interesting when people show real signs of courage only to deny their own strength. The fact that you’re so self-aware tells me that you are a path towards an expansive consciousness. Money problems definitely suck, but experience tells me that, when somone can face their stressors, pricess them, and then come to understand then, the stressors tend to get worked out. It’s like the “universe” sees the work and rewards it! Great job!

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    • Oh, I really hope so, Juan! Honestly, when it comes to money, I’m an absolute expert at living in denial of reality, which just doesn’t help. Today one of my goals is to have an honest look at the specific and most pressing problems. ARGH! I really, really hope something shifts in that area soon.
      As always, thank you so much for your words 🙂

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  2. Spooky how you again exactly describe how I feel… You’re not alone, there are people out there who understand. Hope you had a good day.

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  3. There’s a good chance you won’t realise (or even read) how much you have just helped me right now.
    You commented on my post and I followed you from there. I have pretty gnarly mental health issues and I feel out of control right now. Not “totally out of control” in the sense that I need to go to the hospital, but you know what i mean.
    The photo of Australia, where many of my family members live, and your words…they just made me feel better this evening, so thank you. I can entirely relate to the “desert” mentality and just for expressing it, I thank you.

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    • Thank you so much! It really is lovely that something I wrote was able to be of assistance to you. Gotta love the interwebs, eh?
      I do know what you mean re out of control but not in the sense that you need to go to hospital … I sort of feel that way myself. There’s a part of me which would like to run away to hospital, but that’s just my mind trying to escape the horrible reality I’m living in right now.
      I guess we just have to have faith that we’ll pull through, right?
      Thank you so much for commenting. You put a smile on my face. I think that makes you some sort of miracle worker! 🙂

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      • Your words are so kind.
        We WILL pull through. I’ve gone through this hideous detox, relapse, naff depression situation several times now, induced by drugs, alcohol and mental illness without any chemical assistance and it does get better! It just sucks in the meantime…big time.
        It annoys me that my medication doesn’t seem to work unless I’m totally cool and sober. Blah.
        Turns out drugs and/or alcohol don’t do shit in the long-term, so I do not recommend them. This stuff is a long-term investment which kind of sucks, but at least we’re in it together!

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      • Amen to that. About the only upside I can see right now! Thank you again for the support. It’s very much appreciated.

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      • Tell me about it. I feel horrendous recently as I just started work for the first time in months and it’s so hard. We’ll be okay though. One day at a time and if it doesn’t go okay, we’ll just start again tomorrow!

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  4. I found it hopeful that you are looking to the future. One of the ways I knew I was really in deep was my complete and utter inability to think of the future in any form, unless I was totally forced to do so.

    I laughed when you wrote “it’s like I’m doing a Bachelor of Dysthymia” because yeah, it’s like that! There is so much work and self-education involved in recovery and coping. Keep it up and admire your newly pedicured toes!

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