I think I see my illness as the enemy. If you make friends with it you keep it close and always have one eye on it. Its a constant power struggle, where I perpetually realign myself with what comes on any particular day. I have to give myself little milestones as markers to see if I am on top of the game. The hardest thing I think, is trying not to state out loud the whole time, "I am finding everything difficult. Please give me 5 minutes to chill out and catch up." The irony in this is when I am hyper manic, I feel like shouting, "Catch up for goodness sake! You're all going to slow". Balance and mundanity are not something I am familiar with.
So my day goes a little bit like this:
- Get up and check mood - get out of bed regardless
- Eat breakfast and try not to become overwhelmed with toddler chaos
- Practice laughing at my intrusive thoughts whilst making breakfast and cups of coffee
- Deliver children to nursery whilst being assertive but loving
- Drive to work, ignoring internal dialogue which usually revolves around "I'm not good at my job, my boss regrets employing me, I must try harder" etc. Actively sing along to the radio to quiet mind noise
- Get into work and choose to be upbeat and engage with people, ignoring negativity and focusing on the positives
- Plan work around times when I am productive and energy levels are good
- Take a proper lunch break even though the office culture tends to promote a lunchless day and try really hard not to spend money compulsively on a load of rubbish whilst out and about
- Attend meetings and work really hard at externalising i.e: Count the windows, recite words from the page, actively listen if zoning out, disregard nasty high level managers attitude and practice taking reality snap shot (getting stuck in my head ruminating is not good for me)
- Have a caffeine break at 2-3 as my energy and mood dip at this time
- Finish off tasks if possible, but leave work if necessary (This is difficult as I am a conscientious worker and a perfectionist). Accept any constructive criticism and focus on accomplishments of the day
- Drive home without rerunning the whole day over and over again in my mind, and picking on the things I think I have done wrong
- Collect children and ensure positive praise and physical affection, even though I feel like curling up under my quilt for 3 hours first
- Arrive home and do some housework, including chemicals, knives, hot water and the like (More exposure therapy) and force myself to be loving and gentle because really I want to have a rant - my mood does not dictate my behaviour
- Put kids to bed, eat a meal and finally sit down
- Go to bed at my regular time, taking medication and respecting the sleep hygiene rules
Now this is my day in a very basic format, but what I am trying to show is that I have to work throughout the day to ensure I stay on top of my depression and symptoms. I also have to listen to my mind and body if things start to go off kilter. Now that is the really hard bit because most people have bad days, mood dips, react badly, make mistakes and get narked if someone tells them off. But at least I am living and not existing. I am not letting the beast drag me down. Oh yes, and actually I find out from my colleagues that the individuals I struggle with, the ones who are really horrid to be around, are actually resented and disliked by everyone else. Well thank god for that. I am not alone.
So where were we with the self esteem group?