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”!