Happy [end of ] Mental Health Awareness Week

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Today marks the end of the Mental Health Foundation’s week of awareness.

The week coincided with a wobble in my own mental health, so I thought this was an apt opportunity to start sharing some of the ways in which I deal, when depression and anxiety come yapping.

I’ll start with my week, and how I got over having the rug pulled from underneath me.

  • Note anything that may have triggered the dip

Sometimes when I feel myself slipping, it is for no reason. I can literally go from feeling totally fine, to landing, seemingly without a fall, into a big grey pit. I don’t even feel the impact until its been three days of sitting in the same room, without showering. More often than not, though, something happens to start the process. It can be hard to acknowledge the triggers, it can force me to think of things that have happened that I don’t want to; it can make me feel irrational; it can make me feel selfish; it can make me feel weak.

At the start of this week I had a big disappointment. I got turned down for a dream job, that I had been enthusiastically encouraged to pursue. When the “Sorry, no” email came through on Monday I was floored. Not only was I utterly disappointed, but I felt incredibly embarrassed. All these people had put in good words, an interview was an inevitable, I had already started to plan the life my comfortable salary would allow. To have to go back to those people and tell them I’d been turned down at the first stage, made me feel physically ill.

Then started the crying and the comparison cycle – “she is doing this…they are doing that…they are pregnant…I can’t even stay pregnant or get a job or get a husband, or stay in one place for more than a year. I can’t even afford a holiday. I am the complete eff-up of all my friends. They must be so bored of me failing over and over again.”

It is a horrible, self-indulgent, feeling; sobbing for hours over the successes of the people you love, and feeling like a total, ungrateful bitch for doing so.

It took a couple a couple of days, and a lot of deep breaths, but once I confronted the trigger head-on, I felt so much better. I just got a job knock-back, people get them every single day. I took a positive step and asked for feedback on my application – this was scary to do and kinda awkward, but I got the answers I needed, they were justified and I now know what I need to make my application bullet proof next time round.

I also took time to look at the rejection in context:  I am lucky to be employed, I wasn’t in desperate need of that job, I just really wanted it. I get paid enough to live on and have treats, who can ask for anything else? The people around me, who I took great pains to compare myself to, have all had set backs, disappointments and heartbreak. We are all bobbing along in the same boat and nothing comes easily to anyone – no matter how much it looks that way (or how much people WANT you to see it that way!).

When stuff like this happens to me it is a catastrophe, and it can be really difficult for me to recover. I am really proud of myself, that I got everything back on the straight so quickly for once.

Accepting failure, as just part of life, is difficult for me. For me, everyone else is excelling while I am always shrinking. But I am getting so much better at not taking these set-backs personally, being mindful of the lovely world I have and all the potential that remains.