Nothing But Bluebirds From Now On

Well, my friends, you have been with me every step of the way over the last rocky 6 months, through the downs and the even downers, through the angst and heartache and panic and pain, through the hope and despair. I’m really grateful for your presence, for how much you all care about me, for the many many emails and comments and messages and cards and gifts. There were times when I felt sure that I was straining everyone’s patience and compassion to the limits, especially since this relapse dragged on for soooo long. But you stuck with me, and didn’t give up hope, even when I did.

THANK YOU. 

I honestly didnt believe that I would get well this time, and the longer things dragged on, the less hope I had. But gradually in the last month I have got better & better, until now I feel as good as new again. Better, actually, because I no longer have that nagging fear of relapse. Partly because I know I can survive a relapse, and partly because I think I’ve learned much more from this last one, and know exactly what needs to change to stay well.

I feel happy pretty much all the time now, and calm and relaxed. I can cope again. My memory has recovered. My concentration is almost back to normal. My body has recovered too, and I’m sleeping properly. When I’m with people, I feel part of things, instead of feeling like there’s a thick glass wall between me and them.

Every day feels like a miracle, and I’m making the most of it. This is my third breakdown, and it was far far worse than I could have ever imagined. I didnt think anyone could come back from those depths, but I have. For a long time I thought that even if I did recover, I would be very fragile, damaged beyond repair. But I’m not.

However bad things get, don’t give up hope. Sometimes it takes longer than you expect, but you will recover eventually. And be happier & stronger than ever before. We are remarkable creatures, our bodies are designed to adjust back to wellness wherever possible. And thankfully, we live in an age when many kinds of antidepressant medication are available, so that it should be possible to find the right one for you, given enough time and patience.

Now the work of maintaining recovery continues. I have never managed to sustain more than 6 months of wellness in a row, up to now. But looking back, I can see a very clear pattern of triggers that preceded each relapse, and those triggers ARE in my control to change. I do get affected by the dark winter months, it’s true, but I can ride that out along with everyone else. It’s the internal triggers that eventually drag me down, until I am so stressed and burned out that my brain chemistry gives up the fight. These are the things that I have to work hard to change. Life is a work in progress, and I don’t expect to be able to stave off relapse permanently, not with my track record, but I am aiming to have longer periods of wellness, and shorter, less frequent, less intense periods of depression.

So I’m putting together a little personal manifesto, to help me stay well, and I thought you’d like to share it with me. Maybe it will give you some ideas for writing your own.

I PROMISE TO…….

Be honest and open and true and authentic. No insincerity, no faking it, no public persona, no fear of showing my flaws.

Always do the best I can – and recognise that.

Remember that everyone else is doing the best they can too, so be compassionate, and see the best in others.

See the beauty in life, in myself, in others. 

Remember what is important in life, and let the rest go. Live each day to the full, love and be loved, laugh, be present for each moment.

Let the negativity of others slide off me, as much as possible.     

Always see the big picture, instead of getting caught up in the little details.

Celebrate the ordinary, try not to take even little pleasures for granted.

Special Shop Update 25.06.11

So, we’ve got TWO special updates for you this weekend! Saturday at 5am (UK time, that’s GMT+1) - yes, 5 in the morning! - we have a shop update for customers who find the usual Sunday evening time slot hard to manage. I’m not prohibiting anyone from shopping, but if you are a regular, you might want to give the others a bit of a head start. For Posh customer in places like Australia and New Zealand, the normal time slot of 8pm Sunday is 3 or 4am Monday morning, and you will admit that it would take quite a devoted customer to shop at that time every week! So we’ll give them the advantage this week. The shop preview for this update is now up, and you can see the screenshot of the Flickr set below.

In addition, we have a shop update at the normal time of 8pm Sunday, but it’s a special Orphan Skein update. There won’t be any photos or colour descriptions with this update, as it’s a sort of lucky dip, but you will know what type of yarn you are buying (ie Elinor) and each skein will be 20% off the normal price. There is only 1 skein per colourway, so if you buy more than one skein in a yarn base, you will not get matching skeins.

Most of the skeins have been overdyed, so they are either dark or very saturated. But on the plus side, the colourways have that complexity and depth that you get from overdyed yarn. There are also a few lighter skeins that ended up as orphans for one reason or another……

You can see the preview for this update here, and I will move this to the shop page once the Saturday morning update has sold out.

Phew. I need a lie down in readiness.

You Can’t Go Back (but should you want to?)

Most of us spend half our time wishing we could go back to a happier time in our lives, or wanting a second chance at something. This is very human, especially in times of distress, but is it helpful? Absolutely not. It’s completely futile, focuses your attention and energy in the wrong direction, and leads to frustration and even more unhappiness, Not to mention missing out on the here and now.

This pull is especially strong when you are battling mental health issues. You look back longingly on the time when you were well and free, and all your energy and desire is on ‘getting back to normal’. It’s taken me 3 breakdowns to realise what a huge mistake this is. As soon as we recover, we rush back into living life the same way we did before, thinking that this is where safety and normality is. But what you forget, or don’t realise, is that the old reality is part of the reason you fell sick in the first place. Yes, clinical depression and other serious mental illnesses are very much biochemical, but your personality and the way you handle life factors in there as well. This is why therapy, counselling, cognitive behavioural therapy, etc, are encouraged alongside medication. Changing your brain chemistry is almost never enough to prevent relapses. You have to change the way you handle life, the way you see yourself, the way you interact with others.

This is incredibly hard, because we don’t like to have our thought patterns challenged or altered – we developed them in the first place in order to give some structure and security and order to a potentially scary, chaotic world. Change can be terrifying. And not just for you personally – those around you may find it unsettling, irritating, or upsetting, when you change,and may resist it in a way that can bring conflict.

Nevertheless, if you want to build a more secure, settled, happy life, the only way is by challenging your current perceptions and attitudes, and figuring out which ones need to change. And then having the courage and determination to make the changes.

This is something that only you can figure out (and you may need professional help in doing so), but asking yourself whether any of these attitudes sound familiar might be a start:

  • I have to be successful in whatever I undertake. If I’m not the best, I’m a failure.
  • I must be approved of by everyone at all times. If not, that means there’s something wrong with me.
  • My value as a person depends on what others think of me.
  • If my partner (or parent, or child) doesn’t love me, I’m worthless and unlovable.
  • I should be the perfect friend / parent / student / spouse / employee.
  • I should never feel upset, tired, or sick; I should always be happy, calm, efficient, productive.
  • It is best to give up my own interests in order to please other people.
  • If I am to be a worthwhile person, I must be truly outstanding in at least one major respect.
  • It is shameful for a person to display his weaknesses.

 

Shop Update 19.06.11

Here’s this week’s preview in all its glory!

This is the last Sunday update for June, because next weekend we are doing a special update for our customers in far off time zones. It will be Saturday June 25th at 5am (UK time, GMT+1).