Total Pageviews

Thursday, 25 August 2011

Glimpses of Hope

Today was a good day. 

It started by me oversleeping.
My daughter managed to find a water bottle and dump in on the carpet. 
My box of ‘Frosted Wheats’ was empty and there was that not quite enough amount left in my second choice.  (my husband made me eggs on toast, though – bonus points for him!)
Little miss refused to give me a hug goodbye…first time she’s ever done that.
I missed an important deadline at work.
I didn’t start two other projects because of desparately trying to make said deadline.
Since my forgotten umbrella was at home, I got soaked on my way to lunch.
Our new (to us) car is giving us grief…just days after a service.
My husband is ill for the second time in a week.
I had to leave items in the middle of using self checkout to chase after (surprisingly speedy) daughter.
I finished a mountain of dishes, then discovered more on the table.

So, on the scale of greatness, this one wouldn’t score particularly high.  In fact, by some standards, it’s fair to say it was particularly shit.  However, to one who is in the process of recovery, today was a good day.  You see, on a bad day, just one of the above events would be enough to send me spiralling into the depths of despair. 

I actually noticed the whole lack of my favourite cereal issue yesterday.  At the time there was enough Crunchy Nut (good but definitely second choice) but I wasn’t in the mood for them.  I could actually feel my chest tighten and my breath shorten in panic.  It took a little self pep talking to convince myself to get a grip, it’s only breakfast, to calm down. Of course, the fact that such a little thing could upset me made me feel like a failure. No, not feel like a failure. Know I was a failure.  I was in tears. Again.  Gahhhhhh!

Buuuut, that was yesterday. 

Today, not once did I get in a panicked heap of disaster.  The demons stayed firmly out of sight and sound where they belong.  I was even able to accept that the missed deadline (which, don’t get me wrong, irritates the hell out of me and is something I can’t remember doing in a long time) was not something I could have prevented.  I multi-tasked and stayed calm through the evening routine, getting a tired and cranky toddler fed, bathed, in bed, and asleep after only(?) five(!!) renditions of the latest favourite bedtime song. 

When all was done, I sat down with a cup a tea and began to write and my eyes are dry.  This is a good thing. 

I struggled for a long time after asking for help. With no experience of a long term illness, it was hard to understand how, even with counselling, even with medication, there seemed to be absolutely no change in how I felt for what seemed like an eternity.  Believing that I would ever feel better was an impossibility.  

My therapist suggested an emotions journal.  She explained that it might seem a bit hoaky but asked that I give it a chance for a week and see how it went.  All I had to do was at three different times during the day, record my mood.  Not over analyze (good, as my brain was mush).  Just take a second and think which simple face best represents me at that moment, and draw it.

For days it was nothing but sad faces, then one lunchtime I felt indifferent.  I was sad again by bedtime but I’d had a not so bad moment!  Progress and I could see it!  I kept this journal up for several weeks. When those low points hit, all I could think about was the never-ending despair but the facts didn’t lie. My journal was proof it hadn’t been all bad.  Soon I had a string of indifferent faces and I felt good enough to add a few descriptive words with them.  My husband hated the emotion journal and would do anything he could to avoid looking at it.  For him, seeing those sad and indifferent faces was too much to bear, proof of how unhappy I really was, that I wasn’t enjoying being a mother.  For me though, they let me see the light.  It let me see the baby steps towards getting better, the little things that could so easily be missed when viewing the world through a shroud of depression.

With the exception of the middle of the night, mornings were the hardest.  That was when I needed my little sheets of faces the most.  They reminded me that if I could get myself to mid-day, things stayed pretty good until the witching hour. (How much can one baby nurse and how clingy can they possible be in the space of a few hours?!?!?)

When I started to be upbeat enough to forget to fill in the chart, I knew its purpose had run its course.  I stopped physically recording my emotions but the practice is still the same.  Living one day at a time is essential but sometimes it has to be broken down to moment by moment.  This isn’t the same as “life is what you make of it” or simply a matter of “looking on the bright side of things.”  This is about noticing that one not-so-bad point to help me realise I am making steps towards being the real me again. This is about laughing and remembering that laughter when I feel like I am sinking. 
Look for the moments, savour the days. 
When there is a string of them, try to embrace it.
Today was a good day. Yesterday most certainly was not.  Tomorrow is still up for grabs.  Things may even change tonight but no matter what happens,

Today I had a good one.   

How was yours?


The Boy and Me said...

There is a reason why us teachers use smiley faces, they convey basic emotions very quickly & effectively. I'm glad doing this has helped, it sounds like a clever idea.

Sheila H said...

Great idea about the faces! It will gradually get better and you'll see your progress!

arms wide open said...

Love your perspective. One day at a time. that's all we can do.

Middleenglandmum said...

It sounds like you have a good system going. Someone older and wiser, once told me, to stop worrying about the stuff that hadn't happened yet, as you can never truly predict reactions to future events. That has helped me a lot.