So post 52. A year of weekly blog posts. It’s been a puzzle what to call this post. A celebration ? Too corny and of what exactly. A retrospect ? Each post has something within it which is precious to me, would be hard to highlight some. An anniversary ? That suggests a recurring event. A milestone ? That infers a plan, which there isn’t, this just happened.
It’s why the image for the post is a blank page and there is no title. It’s just another post. But I guess it isn’t. Not really. Let’s be the Doctor for a moment and do some time travel…
Friday 7th to be specific. I was nervously sat in a room, rambling on as I often did in a therapy. But there was a specific reason I was nervous. I had a notes scribbled down about a Facebook post I had written.
You see, it was the W.H.O. International Health Day which had the theme of depression. On the preceding Sunday I had noted in my journal about writing something on Facebook, to tell friends why I was off work. I spent a couple of days researching facts and figures around depression. I talked to my wife about it.
All that week I noted in my journal my uncertainty about the Facebook post, but that it felt right. That Friday I talked the post through with my therapist, who thought it was a good idea. And so it was posted, just on Facebook to friends and I decided also to email a copy to where I worked.
I had no expectation of what would happen from it. There seemed to be a need inside me to explain that I suffered from depression and mostly importantly, to feel that I could contribute to raising awareness of it. Which is odd if you consider that when I started therapy in late February I didn’t really want to talk about depression nor admit it was serious.
I had some lovely and supportive comments back, many expressing surprise because I had been so successful at hiding it, over a long period. What I hadn’t expected was that a few people privately shared back their past experience and indeed some shared they too were struggling at the same time. That was pretty humbling.
I wrote a second Facebook post the following Friday and from then on a weekly post started. By post 4 my therapist asked a simple question – would I go more public with the writing? And with a little nudge I did and created this blog.
I have posted every Friday. It has helped me a lot, to express and explore my thoughts, to try and do my bit to raise awareness. It provided me a weekly structure when I felt lost. It’s opened up to old friends, it’s made new friends. More surprisingly is that anyone reads it. I am not writing that for comments or praise – it is genuinely humbling that people do and even more so when they leave comments.
Whether you have read all, some or just this one – thank you so much.
I have discovered I really like writing. It’s been a creative outlet for me. There is a negative side to posting a blog though. There is a huge sense of pressure after about ten minutes after pressing Publish. Why ten minutes ? Well for a short time there is a sense of accomplishment, of having written, been happy with it and then let it out into the void. Then the doubts – it has misspellings in; it wasn’t as good as the previous one; it’s not relevant or is factual incorrect; it’s actually rubbish; and the worst thought, no-one actually cares.
And all of that is just the human mind doing what it does best. By posting, especially a mental health blog and sharing personally, you are placing yourself at risk, in a vulnerable place. Once the words are out there you have lost control of them. That means your mind starts to look out for the dangers, the harm that may lurk just around the corner, in a comment or reply.
The posts also take time, as they have progressed I have put more planning and structure around what I write about. With that in mind, I may not continue to post each Friday, rather more on an ad-hoc basis. This is not the end of the blog, I still have some things I want to write about and share, the story isn’t finished yet. There are a few writing and creative projects I want to progress alongside the blog over the next few months.
Back to today. Looking back to post 1 I am different but similar. Very much a work in progress, old habits die hard. I have learnt a lot, about ways to look after my mental health. I feel able to be reduce my medication, although the side effects of the drop to 10mg are longer lasting and more pronounced than when I reduced 30mg to 20mg in November.
Here is the big thing within the year. I have learnt, through CFT, a gentler approach to myself. This doesn’t mean giving myself a pat on the back and permission to watch all the Star Wars films back to back (actually, what a good idea…). It means that I understand more about the inner voices, which are helpful and which are not. To not avoid the inner darker places, but to step into them with a gentle courage. To understand that common humanity means we all get tripped up by our helpful, but tricky minds. It’s just that for some of us that leads to mental ill health, at which time we need help. Help that is meaningful, supportive and understanding.
In the last year, not only through the medical care I got from my GP and my therapist, butthrough friendships (new and old) and this blog something happened to me. I found that help. I found my voice around depression.
I found a better relationship with depression. A compassionate one.
It’s an ongoing relationship, the rat of depression and I now have a mutual understanding. We respect each other more. I respect that it’s serious and needs careful looking after. The rat respects me as I survived the worst it threw at me. So it can sit in the corner, quietly and I’ll ignore any squeaking.
And that is a relationship I can live with.
That first post ended with a Coldplay song. So let’s repeat history, by adding here the other Coldplay song I had considered adding to that initial post.