Oprah has a great quote; "For years I’ve noticed that the universe speaks to us in whispers. If we ignore the whispers, we get pebbles of warnings. If we still don’t pay attention, we get bricks of problems, and if we’re really hard-headed, eventually the entire brick wall comes crashing down."
When you have lived with depression for a while, you notice patterns of behaviour when life gets on top of you. Well, sometimes you do. There are times when you couldn’t act on the pattern straightaway, because you didn’t even realise there was a pattern until you were out the other side and had time to reflect on what had been going on. Being on the outside and looking in? It is always easier than being on the inside of the black hole and looking down.
Life has been throwing me pebbles all month, so in an effort to help others, here are my triggers that I now recognise that I need to take action over. And because I’m nice, here is also how I try to push through them to the other side:
1. Tiredness, lethargy and general bed-worship – some days it is all I can do to get out of bed. It literally feels like I’m heavier than normal, sluggish and moving through treacle. Having a toddler helps as he needs to be fed, watered, dressed and entertained. I cannot lie there and fester when Peanut needs me, and I want and need him to have a relaxed and happy childhood. The bone-weariness I’ve been living with is a sure sign to me that I’m stressed. I’ve booked a doctor’s appointment for next week to get some blood tests done, just to make sure I’m travelling ok.
2. Having no interest in anything – I flit and change between projects, tasks, not being able to settle to anything. I pick up a book, but can’t finish it, start cleaning the kitchen, but don’t finish it off, look at the ironing pile, inability to plan meals, you get the picture.
3. I spend longer in the shower – feeling like that little glass wall is a cocoon. I wonder whether that was why Superman changed in telephone boxes?
4. Looking at stupid things on the internet – Tumblr, Facebook, Facebook Fails, yes you.
Four triggers isn’t much; one or two, or a mixture of two doesn’t add up to much; but when I start showing signs of three or all four things… I know I need to sit down and take a long, hard look at what is going on in my life. It’s like a claxon going off by my ear.
Enigmatically, I actually know what is going on in our life. We are hoping for a resolution to it on Friday this week, at least a better idea of what is going on. I’ve also not exercised in ten days, so my energy levels are lower because of that too. I am missing my mum, I liked being able to talk to her whenever I wanted to, not looking at a clock and taking off 11 hours to see if she would be awake. The normal routine in our little family is well out of whack. I had breakfast with friends yesterday and wept all over them, because it was an hour outside of my stress and down-time for me. On the train home from the city I sat and thought long and hard about what I want from life, the universe and everything.
The $64,000 question of course is how do I push on through? How to finish projects that I’ve started? How do I reign myself in? Sheer bloody-mindedness. I am used to working things through to their conclusion at work, so I transfer that skill to my personal life. I started at one end of the dining room on Saturday and finished in the kitchen. I just kept on going until it was done, if I got called away, I went back to where I was.
I also have a list of five minute jobs on hand, so if I’ve only got five minutes, I’ll tick something off the list – at least I’ve accomplished something. We make the bed every day. We batch cook, so even if neither of us feels like cooking, there are healthy options already portioned up in the freezer ready to go. I make a salad most Mondays and Thursdays so there is always something for lunches or as a side dish. I try not to beat myself up about things. I note down when and what I’m feeling grateful for. I listen to me, I don’t always believe me, (I know enough not to believe the voice in my head, particularly when I’m berating myself), but if I think I did ok at something, I let myself feel proud about my achievement.
I write, I share, I reach out and I hug. ‘No matter how hard the past, you can always begin again’ – Buddha
It’s time to let go of what is bugging you. Go on, tie it to a balloon, watch the wind take it away.