July 20, 2007
“If I feel bad it’s because it’s my fault”
-> “If it’s my fault then I need to do something”
-> “Mustn’t let myself get away with things”
The above ignores triggers and other explanations of feeling bad. There is increased self-condemnation and decreased mood.
Self-harm was my early strategy of dealing with this. I have ‘collected’ other strategies through my life as well. Some are unhelpful like avoiding people, suicidal ideation and binge eating. Some are more helpful like talking to my boyfriend and family. My core beliefs about myself (“I am weak”, “I am ugly”, “I am lazy”) aren’t challenged or contradicted. Why the fuck not?
The above is a page from my CBT folder from 2004/5 that I’m revising in preparation for starting another course of CBT. I can see changes in my thinking between then and now. Overall I blame myself less I think and what blame remains is less specific – more a general “I could have done more”.
July 8, 2007
From The Naked Bird Watcher by Suzy Johnston:
“When I had said to Dr Blake that this introduced a degree of normality into my life I wasn’t kidding. Playing gigs was part of my life and I was glad to return to it. But it wasn’t just playing the gig that I had to cope with, it was the nerves before hand, the stress of remembering all of my parts onstage and the comedown after it was all over. I was extremely pleased to have handled it all well and come through it with no problems. This gives the impression that I don’t enjoy playing with the band but that just isn’t true, it’s just that I recognise areas in which I am vulnerable and in doing so I cope with them better. I would be far more upset if I didn’t let myself play because I was afraid of the stress involved. Standing up and doing anything in front of a bunch of strangers will always be nerve wracking but if you believe that your performance is worthwhile and something that you can be proud of and, of course, something that the audience will enjoy then the nerves and stress take second place. When I stood up on that stage I didn’t feel like a psychiatric patient anymore; I felt vital and alive and that was the normality I was so desperate to cling to.”
“I have been out of hospital for almost two years now and feel that things are pretty stable. Yes, I still have times of ill health, only this afternoon I was sure that the police were after me (they weren’t) and I felt frightened and persecuted but I am getting better at realising when these things are in my head and, as a consequence, take appropriate action. Along with my regular medications I have what is known as a PRN, an antipsychotic, which can be taken when required. So this afternoon, once I realised things were getting out of control I had the insight to take a PRN and phone my Mum for some comforting, rational words. In this way I get through the occasional little crisis that can crop up in my life and whilst it isn’t perfect it is a big improvement on how I used to handle things just a few years ago. Back then I used to keep everything to myself and I was too scared to let anyone in. I realise now that an objective viewpoint can be helpful although obviously I am careful about who I apporoach for help as the wrong reaction can do more harm than good. I am extremely lucky in that I can go to my professional network, family and certain friends and tell them anything armed with the knowledge that they won’t be shocked or turn me away and will help me deal with the problem that I am having. I just hope I help them as much as they help me.”
“All I did wrong was lose the battle of percentages and develop manic depression. But does that mean that my life is over or somehow worth less than others? I don’t think so. And I’m not particularly special; I have met lots of wonderful, caring, intelligent people that cope with crippling mental health problems on a daily basis. These people should be applauded and not talked about in hushed, embarrassed tones. As a society we are ashamed of mental illness and see those suffering from it as weak and as failures. I’m sorry but bollocks to that! Living with a psychiatirc disorder can be an excruciating experience not only from the condition itself but also from the potential condemnation by friends and family who can’t or won’t understand and the strength of will it takes to live with that every day is outstanding. Imagine if you had appendicitis and your friends wouldn’t believe you and refused to get you the help you needed and when you finally made it to hospital came to visit only to tell you to “pull yourself together” and “snap out of it”. That example may be outrageous and even farcical but how often have I witnessed exactly that whilst [in hospital]? Sometimes you really want to shake people. Snap out of it? Well I say to those people snap out of your prejudice and open your eyes. Statistics show that one in four people will suffer from a mental health problem severe enough to warrant medical care. How many friends do you have?”
July 2, 2007
Or do only ugly people say that? Charisma is more attractive to me than being thin but I’d rather have the latter. Why? I think I’ve picked up the desire for physical beauty and thinness from around me without much thought or input from myself.
That doesn’t excuse the fact that I am still technically obese and feel very overweight. This isn’t all-or-nothing thinking where I now think “beauty or thinness have no point, I don’t want them anymore”. I can still want to be thin but at the same time see that it is nowhere near the most important thing in my life. I think beauty and being thin are too linked in my mind. They are not necessarily the same thing.