It’s World Mental Health Day today and twitter has been flooded with positive words of support, inspiration and motivation to all those suffering with a mental illness.
This morning I joined the masses and wanted add my voice to the increasing chorus. I wanted to shout about it, let everybody know that what I’m going through isn’t unusual, it isn’t wrong, it isn’t my fault. After yesterday being such a dark day for me, today I felt buoyed up by the determined voices speaking out in unison each against their own ‘Black Dog’, ‘Gremlin’.
I took some time out and continued reading ‘The Chimp Paradox: The Mind Management Programme for Confidence, Success and Happiness’ by Dr Steven Peters. I have been attending CBT sessions and this book neatly compliments them. Through the metaphors of a ‘Chimp’ (the emotional and reactionary part of our mind), a ‘Human’ (the logical part of our mind) and a ‘Computer’ (the part of our mind which stores the information (which becomes our core beliefs) sent to it by the Chimp and the Human , the book explains how our thoughts, emotions, behaviours and beliefs inter-relate. It invites you to stop and break down your engrained thought processes and behaviours with a view to understanding their origin, questioning them and, where necessary, re-programming your ‘Computer’.
This book has provoked me to consider myself in a way I never have before. Of course, implementing the changes I know I need to is a challenging and slow process. Especially when there are days when I can’t see the value in anything, when I feel numb and just want to sleep until this all goes away.
I have digressed.
I started to become aware of how much ‘thinking’ I was doing. I was thinking about my feelings of depression that have flared up again over the last few weeks. I was thinking about my reliance on my Gremlin. What did my depression and my Gremlin make me? I’m recovering from anorexia. I’m recovering from depression. I’m teetering on the edge of succumbing to another Gremlin and trying hard not to.
I can only describe what I felt by likening it to being in a noisy shop, when there are too many people around you, you can’t quite see the way through to where you want to go and you’re constantly being distracted by them and their chatter.
I wanted some silence. I didn’t want to be surrounded by the chatter in my mind. I didn’t want to be a recovering anorexic, depressive! I just wanted to be Em. I wanted to return to the days when I could read a book and my mind wouldn’t wander. I wanted to hear only my voice and be comfortable with it.
I put the book away and picked up a fiction book, The Hypnotist by Lars Kepler. It’s a fast paced thriller which I’ve just started reading and am increasingly enjoying.
I’d read a page, then my mind would wonder to my Gremlin; how would I cope later on without its support? I refocussed on the book. I thought about the number on the scales this morning; is that a good or bad number, should I do something to reverse it, am I lazy, am I greedy? I refocussed on the book.
This mental cycle continued for an hour until I decided it was time to break the motion and go out for a run.
My point is, whether it is depression, an eating disorder or any other mental illness, it is just a label. The illness tries its damnedest to define us; to suppress our individual spark. Today, I wanted to to take a step back from it. I didn’t want to think about it any more. I didn’t want to listen to its voices. I wanted to remember me and just be me.
Of course, the hard thing now is for me to believe that the person I am without Ana, my Gremlin, or my Black Dog is enough of a person.
Am I a good enough person….?
That phrase captures it all. Good enough for whom? I should only be trying to be good enough for myself. I know that I used to be so content with the young woman I had become. I was confident, comfortable and accepting of myself.
I think I need to stop thinking and questioning. I need to quieten my mind so my old voice can come through again. That’s the one that I need to listen to. That’s the one that will help me recover.
I’m Em; nothing more and certainly nothing less.