Pacing Myself

The last few days, I have been taking things slowly. Frustratingly slowly.

I find that I am generally in one of two states. Either I am feeling really low, and unable to do anything… or I feel positive, and energised, and that I can do many things.

I have been told I need to find a balance. To try and do something when I am feeling low, and to avoid doing too much when I am feeling well.

On the whole, since my last post I have been feeling a little better, and with this improvement has come the desire to be doing.

But I am trying to listen to the advice I have been given, and to go slow.

I find it hard. I find it hard to keep a rein on myself.

I also find it hard to judge how much is ‘too much’.

But I am learning. Learning to do little at a time. Learning to stop, to think, to listen.

Learning to pace myself.

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A Disconcerting Improvement

Today started with a heavy emptiness that definitely did not want filling with food. I sat at the kitchen table, sipping slowly at a small glass of pineapple juice, and felt slow and weighed down and low in my spirits.

I retreated into my cocoon – bed, under the duvet, with daytime television on in the background.

I worried about lunch, but when I was called I found I was able to consume a small amount. I was even able to explain that at times like this I find it hard to eat meat, or anything that tastes too strong.

My pastor came to visit, and by the time I had finished my cup of tea and slice of cake, I was feeling on a more even keel. After he left, I was able to go out for a walk on my own (but having a phone conversation in case the bad thoughts came back and caught me unawares).

None of this is particularly surprising. Much as I hate friends and family saying, “It will pass…” or, “You’ve got through this before; you’ll get through it again…” The fact of the matter is, they are right. I do slip from a crisis to a relatively good place quickly. Too quickly.

I know I should be pleased, but actually I find these rapid shifts in mood disconcerting. I am not stable. That may manifest itself in a sudden descent into a crisis, but it may also be seen in a speedy upswing through “feeling better” into “I can do anything”. And neither state is helpful.

People tend to only see the quick improvement. They tend to assume that because I will “snap out of it” in a day or two, that the crisis is not painful, upsetting, or dangerous. The also talk as if it is my fault when I take on too much in a good phase – they talk about me “not listening” and “stubbornly going ahead” with new projects. They fail to see that the over-active and hyper-energetic state is just as much part of my problem as the low, depressive, helpless state. I can no more prevent the first than I can avoid the second.

I try, I try very hard, to find a balance. To keep busy but not too busy. To avoid both lethargy and stress. To achieve that all-important even keel. But it is difficult. Because what I can do one day, I can’t do the next. Which makes any kind of long-term planning or strategy practically impossible.

My bad days are not the sum of my sickness. They are just one side of a see-saw that is perpetually in motion. And I am struggling to kind my balance in the middle.

Which any child will tell you is practically impossible.

Starting over again…

So here I am again. Back from the brink of another crisis, back to being carefully watched by those around me, back to trying to pick up the pieces.

This time, it’s harder. Everything has changed. My support network, my surroundings, the measures that have been put in place to try and keep me safe.

Even the country is different.

My support worker suggested I tried writing about it. Writing often helps me, so I am going to take her advice.

But having been burnt before, I’m keeping this anonymous.

I feel dead. I often do, after a crisis. The phrase ‘dead calm’ is strangely appropriate. But it’s not a reassuring calm. It’s a calm where I feel becalmed, left adrift in a strange ocean, not trusting myself or those around me, and with no compass or map to guide me.

I am supposed to have these things. They tell me someone with my length of “experience” in the mental healthcare system should be better equipped. They tell me I am equipped. They tell me I just don’t want to manage, that I want other people to manage for me.

Which sounds like a lot of accusations to me. Not supportive, really. You’d think they’d have been trained to think more carefully about the language they use.

But what do I know? I’m just the patient.

It’s just that I was foolish enough to think that it was their job to listen to me, to help me.

But despite all my fears, all my tears, it seems that the best support there is is to leave me here, with a list of phone numbers and an appointment for next week. And instructions to “manage myself” so that I stay safe.

Well. Let’s see if this blog helps.