Be kind to yourself."
One of my besties told me that on Monday. And she's right. (Thank you, Bev!)
I've always been rather a perfectionist (!), with high standards which I beat myself up about when I don't reach or maintain them (writing, studying, working...though not so much housework. Hmm).
However, I'm not competitive with other people (which means I'm a boring game player: you can beat me at Monopoly five times in a row and I won't bat an eyelid!) - I've always believed that each person has their own, different sides and strengths, and have never seen the point in competing with either (a personal belief, of course, and you're entitled to believe different). But with regard to myself, I'm not so kind.
Admitting that is hard.
I'm about to admit something else, too. Doing so here, on my own Blog in such a public sphere as the internet (eek), has been so hard, so vulnerability-inducing that I never thought I would - but Twitter has seen me open up a bit more, so I've already 'put it out there' (as it were!) that...
I suffer with depression. Have done for years. And now anxiety has joined in.
I was diagnosed in 2008, and it seems I have recurring chronic depression. I go through cycles where things are better...and then great big dips where things are not.
Living with this invisible illness is hard. It is insidious and has changed me. To be fair to myself (and my long-suffering friends and family!), not all of the changes are bad. I've become much more tolerant and relaxed, much more accepting (much quieter, too: give me a cuppa, slippers and a purring cat any day over the vodka cranberry, killer heels and nights out clubbing that I used to love...).
I Tweeted once that 'depression changes your default settings'. My default, everyday-usual setting used to be a jolly, bubbly, chatty soul, who would small-talk the hours away with complete strangers. A smile was never far away, nor was a determined, disciplined motivation to get things done.
That default setting was great. It was useful in my (old) retail sales job (despite battling on with customer service/sales roles for years while the depression blighted me, I had to leave the retail sector this January due to the anxiety of being in a room with other people...); it was useful in my social life, in the minutes waiting in a queue... I could call up it whenever I needed it.
But accessing it now is much harder.
Because depression un-installed it.
It isn't the go-to-without-thinking way of being any more. That's not to say I'm a miserable moo every second of every day (!) - I still laugh, chat, motivate myself and get stuff done. At a much reduced rate than before, though, and sometimes five minutes of one of these things is the most I can manage that day. But I can still be that chatty, bubbly person - it's just much, much harder. And much less immediate.
Depression (and anxiety, this time round) has updated my operating system so that I'm also anxious, claustrophobic, reclusive. Sad. Tearful. And sometimes none of these things, because all I feel is FLAT.
Feeling FLAT is the worst. I've always been such a passionate person (about reading, writing, music, friends, family, films, animals, topical issues: never without an opinion, me!) and on the days (weeks, months...) when all I can feel is FLATNESS instead of joy, affection, love, accomplishment, amusement, calmness, comfort, peace, cosiness (etc etc) is devastating.
Is utterly disarming, actually - how do I live, how do I exist in every moment of every day being this person?
By being kind to myself. By remembering that if today's best is five minutes of chat (or writing/reading, or grocery shopping, or admin work at my new job in an office - which is going well, thank you ;0), then that's ok.
It doesn't matter if tomorrow's best is ten minutes or two hours; it doesn't matter if last year's or a decade ago's best was massively more.
As long as it's my best today, it's enough.
And that is better than the depression installation that just won't quit.
Be kind to yourself, too, dear Reader - let's do our best together.
~ ttfn ~