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.
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.