I thought for a while about how to approach this post. What do I want to focus on? What do I want to convey? I mean, I don’t even have an idea for a title yet. (Although by the time you read this, as you may have already noticed, I’m sure I will have already picked a title out. After all, I’m sure that’s what you noticed first.)
Anyway, moving on…
I guess the main thing is to say that having one horrible day doesn’t mean you’re in for a terrible next day, week, or month. While my experience with severe Major Depression has conditioned me to think that one bad day = the start of a depressive episode, it is important to realize: that is not always the case!! *insert dramatic exclamation, spirit fingers, and a huge smile here* <–Okay, maybe take out the dramatics.
Yesterday, September 8, 2016, was not a good day for me. Actually, it was quite awful in a way that was slightly different. “Normally” (I use the term loosely) my horrible days include either self harm urges, suicidal thoughts, or emotional misery and agony. Yesterday, I experienced none of those things. The most accurate way I can describe myself yesterday is detached. (I wrote a poem the following day, A.K.A. today, to tey and describe it. It can be found here.)
Nothing brought me joy.
Nothing held my attention.
I ate lunch. That was about it for the first 3 hours of being awake. I walked like I was in a daze. I didn’t much care. I tried watching television but just got up, turned it off, and shuffled away. I don’t even really remember what else I did in those 3 hours – everything bled together. It felt like nothing mattered. If I was going to be so miserable awake, why not just sleep? So after only 3 hours of being awake, I prepared to go back to sleep. I didn’t care, in that moment, if it would make me not be able to sleep at night. I was physically and emotionally exhausted and I just wanted to sleep.
I decided to use a skill from therapy and call my oldest sister with the express intention of asking after her and my nephew – to distract myself from my situation. It didn’t work much, except after asking and hearing how I was, she encouraged me to come to her place and to call my therapist. I managed to get a ride to her place and later that evening my therapist called me back. She gave me some skills to try, reminding me that sometimes the goal of a skill isn’t to make you feel happy but to help you get through the moments without making things worse.
- Try to connect to people – How do I connect myself with my twin (even though she’s in a different city)? Universally? Things she has told me? Memories?
- What are my vulnerabilities right now?
- What skills have I tried?
- What other skills can I try to use now?
After our call, I went and sat at the kitchen table and started writing and thinking. I wrote out 2 pages about my twin, most of which were fond memories. Then, I brainstormed.
- Only eaten 1 meal so far
- I was alone for most of the day
- Back pain
What skills did I use?
- Took meds; Ate; Slept enough (from the P.L.E.A.S.E. skill)
- Used a nice-smelling body spray (from the self-soothe skill)
- Drank water and gatorade
- Tried calling two people to see how they were doing, but no answer
- Called my oldest sister and asked about her and my nephew’s first week back at school
- Tried to name my emotion: sadness, lonliness
- Arranged to change my environment and go to my sister’s place
- Called my therapist
- Tried to “connect” to my twin via memories/experiences/past conversations
What other skills could I use?
Distract through Activities
- Little art card
- Playing cards
Distract through Contributing
- Wash some dishes for my sister
- Sweep her house
- Make myself a late dinner
- Go to bed at a decent hour
- Body spray (smell)
- Take a shower, take bra off, cuddle with my pink blanket (touch)
- Have a cream soda, dinner, refreshing grapes (taste)
- Listen to relaxation music (sound)
- Look at my art or puppy pics online (sight)
Not only did my brainstorming help me think of how to proceed with my night, it helped me to realize how much I had already tried. I had already been very skillful and I was able to feel proud of how much effort I was putting in.
A few hours later I was able to reflect again, this time on the new skills I did use:
- Made my sister dinner
- Did some dishes
- Made myself dinner
- Taste: cream soda; delicious dinner
- Smell: body spray
- Touch: bra off; cuddling with my pink blanket
All these skills, and continued effort, helped me greatly. Although I still felt a bit detached when I went to bed, the occasional smile slipped through, and that made things so much better.
So, a bad day doesn’t foretell a horrible next one. I put in a lot of effort to get through yesterday and was relieved to find that, although I wasn’t happy most of the time, I was by no means detached today.
I know this isn’t always the case. Sometimes the next day isn’t better. We just have to remember to keep trying, keep working so hard, because one day we will smile again. One day we will laugh and we will be thankful that we kept pushing through.