Being the best version of me: my guide to climbing your way out of depression

Posted on October 9, 2014

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I just felt a precious feeling. Like I was happy. Helped by listening to this song from last year, which i’ve never actually heard at home before but have always liked.

Here are my top tips for climbing out of depression and being the best version of you, that you can be.

I listened to the feedback I was getting from my friends and loved ones. I was being aggressive. Partying too hard. Was argumentative. Causing fuss when drunk. Crying when drunk.

I started going to therapy. I needed to talk about how I was feeling to someone I didn’t know. I had one of these cards that work gave us, for anonymous support if we need it. This is nearly 10 years ago now. 2005. I saw a man for 10 sessions. He didn’t help. I told him on my last session I thought I was gay. He laughed and said, well you used your ten sessions usefully then didn’t you. I think I was just trying to be provokative, as if to say ‘see? I held the juicy stuff back. Coz I don’t like you’. So my point here is, stick with it. If you don’t feel like you can’t talk to your therapist, ditch them. Or really push yourself to be honest. Stop skirting around the issue. Yes its scary. But go there. Really, it will be hard for a while, but it will be so so worth it.

I told my GP I needed help. Said the darkness was engulfing me. That I was thinking about harming myself. I got another 10 sessions on the NHS. With a really lovely man who introduced me to CBT (cognitive behavioural therapy). He taught me so much about how our brains work. I started to look for, and understand, the patterns in my thoughts and behaviours.

I read books about depression. I went to talks. I can recommend seeing Ruby Wax. She will make you laugh and cry at the same time. Shoot the Damn Dog, by Sally Brampton was a moving and incredible personal story of a woman who I have loved and admired for many years. I religiously read her Agony Aunt column in the Sunday Times mag, and even wrote to her once when I was in a spiral of madness.

I googled how I was feeling. And read blog posts by other people going through similar things. That always soothed me. I could make recommendations but perhaps part of the journey is finding your own. Get googling!

I cut back on the partying and drinking. I always felt awful after a heavy weekend and even in 2005/6 the term Suicide Tuesday was quite commonly said between myself and my friends in jest because we’d always feel awful a few days after a bender. Only no one knew I actually meant it.

I tried to be kind to myself. If I was feeling wobbly, I wouldn’t berate myself for it, or bury the feeings like I had done all my life. I just let them wash over me, knowing they’d pass. I accepted them as a by product of my childhood. It wasn’t easy. So I asked good friends, who I knew understood ‘the darkness’ to remind me, whenever I failed to be able to do it myself.

I sought specialist help. After several years of going through depressive waves, my anxiety and stress levels were rising. A turning point came when I got into a relationship, and I knew I didn’t want to fuck it up. So I found a therapist who dealt specifically in relationships, as well as dealing with women who had been in violent relationships. I didn’t consider I was one of them but thought she ought to be pretty skilled and not just ‘your average therapist’. I saw her for 6 months, maybe a year. Even my best friend ended up seeing her. She was great. Like a mother figure. She stopped me running away from my problems, and taught me that it’s okay to feel the way I do, that i’m normal. And actually, as she used to say, ‘what IS normal? And why do you want to be it?’. LOVE.

I stopped bullying myself. For years, I had been looking in the mirror and a lot of the time was saying to myself. Gosh, you’re ugly. You have a big nose. You have a massive arse. You’re this, you’re that. And so on. I had created a belief for myself and was perpetually confirming it with my own repeated validation, and only served for me to either starve myself or overeat depending on what I needed to use food for. Comfort or control. I started to only see what my brain was telling me, not what everyone else saw. That limiting belief then made me feel ugly, unworthy, judged as the same, and it created a lack in confidance to go out and get what I want. Even though really, that confidance was there all the time. I really was quite evidentally, a confidant person. Which became a massive conflict. It caused my madness. I didn’t know who I was anymore. So stop bullying yourself.

I quit the job(s) I hated.  I did this a few times. Sometimes I created scenarios where I had to leave. I had this strong determination to always stay somewhere for as long as I possibly could then one day a good friend said ‘you’ll be fine, you always land on your feet’. And I have held that mantra close to my chest and never looked back since. The main thing is trying not to stick it out in an industry that isn’t right for you. It’s soul destroying. Find your passion. And fight to create an income doing the thing you love.

Someone told me I needed to find more stillness in my life. Stressed to the hilt, twitching eye, I did a meditation course. It changed my life. Suddenly I realised your thoughts don’t control you. You control them. I try to meditate daily. I never do. I’m still working on my commitment issues! But find your stillness. Take a quiet bath. Sit in silence. Switch off that damn lively mind! It might seem weird to begin with, but try it. Swipe the thoughts to one side as they creep in. Don’t let them lure you….

I accepted that drugs and partying had a hold over me. I was addicted. I used them to replace my lacking confidance. Being high made me feel amazing and gave me the courage to do or say whatever I wanted without worrying if it was the right or wrong thing.

I spoke to my GP and said I thought I had ran out of seratonin. Bless me eh? But I was desperate. This was a few years ago, and I had been doing a lot of work on myself so I should have started to feel happier, right? I thought that the long and short of it was just that I would never be happy because I had depeleted all my seratonin from years of drug taking. And I felt sad about that.

I was relentless in my persuit to understand what was wrong with me. I read more books, spoke to more people, did a workshop for women who went to boarding school, went to drugs rehabillitation, and realised (eventually) that the only person who could make me happy, was me. Not a man. Not money. Not success. Just lil ole me. I did everything I could to understand why it was that sometimes other people’s actions really affected me, and explored why I would often get so unhealthily attached to partners and lovers and maybe even friends, and took responsibility for my actions at every step of the way.

I sought more specialist help. There was something in this notion about being sent away when I was a kid. Boarding school is for the privilaged, so us former boarders carry round so much shame for feeling how we feel. The sheer fact though is, privilaged or not, with parents who love us or not, we were sent away. And a 7 year old child is still a 7 year old child. You’re a blank canvas at that age and you’re not equipped emotionally yet to handle what isn’t a black and white experience. So to the child, it just seems black and white ie. Ok, so you don’t love me then.

I followed through on the recommendations of others. Someone suggested I go to this place, because they thought it might help me. So I went. When people recommended books, I trusted their opinion and read them. Homecoming, by John Bradshaw is one such book recommend to me by my latest therapist. She went to boarding school too. Bradshaw talks about our toxic shame and the theory of the inner child. Apparently, we all have one! How’s that for not feeling like a total freak or an outsider?

I started to think about myself as a 7 year old girl. It broke my heart. But also lifted me. I started to love her. Because there had been this point at which I stopped loving her. Rather, I stopped loving myself. With the right help, I found myself able to heal the long held wounds. And I’m talking about seriously buried subconscious stuff that doesn’t come out until you spend a lot of time working on shifting it. This is not a post about quick fix solutions! But then our life is not suitable to be fixed in any other way than via a dedication to fixing it, and its probably the number one thing a person should focus on right? So there I am, age 7, and she had been trapped inside me that whole time, almost frozen in time. Every time I acted childishly in an argument with a boyfriend, that was her. Every time I had the green eyed monster, that was her. When I cried heavily because I felt rejected by someone, her. So I took myself back to her hopes and dreams, and realised that in order to make her happy, I had to start focusing on myself, on what used to make me happy. On my quest to understand the child version of me, I searched for clues. I found this book I had kept all the years, which was a piss take of fairy tales from when I was about 9 or 10 years old. It was funny, and dark and rebellious and it made me realise that there was always this streak me in that wanted to not believe the bullshit and find my own independent path, and so I started to love that about me. I was a cool kid, even though I grew up always striving to be that as opposed to really believing I was one.

I found myself trusting my gut instincts. Following the last point, this is about trusting that I’m alright. Not thinking i’m a freak. I looked back at me as a kid and saw myself painting, and writing. So much writing. I would write stories about aliens and weird shit and had a very adventourous mind. I found myself loving this little girl, and wanting her to get what she had always wanted.

I started writing this blog.

More of this in my next post… ‘Being the best version of you‘.

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Posted in: History, The Truth