Alicia writes about her experiences with anxiety and depression, teaching and learning languages, education and cats. She also shares her poetry and fiction from time to time.
Find her on Twitter: @aliciabrunskill
Do Yoga, Don't Do Yoga
Social media can be a funny place at times. The tide of opinion sweeping one way, then the other at the drop of a hat. It can be both a supportive and a vitriolic environment when differences of opinion occur. Especially around the topic of mental illness.
Depression and Sleep
The longer that I have suffered from depression, the more complex my relationship with sleep has become. Not being able to have a consistent store of energy is one of the most frustrating aspects of this illness, both because I try so hard to do all the things you’re supposed to do to get a good night’s sleep, and because it is absolutely no fun being tired all the time despite whatever you try.
Is This Forever?
You’ve been here a while now, depression. I’m not sure I remember a time without you. Those memories of a different type of mind seem like something from a dream. I don’t know if they’re real. Did I ever have a mind so quiet? Or is that just how I imagine it would have been?
On the morning that my adventure began, I found myself dozing on my bed. I had already dressed and drawn the curtains, allowing a golden blanket of sunlight to bathe me as I stirred. Summer sounds greeted my waking senses; rustling, flapping and chirruping floated in through the open window. The combined scent of flowers in bloom mingled with fresh grass cuttings and barbecue smoke; wafting in on each fresh current of air.
An Astronaut’s Point of View
I read through the print-out the doctor had given me again. Common symptoms include nausea, stomach and back muscle cramps, bloating, constipation, diarrhoea… All relevant to me. I couldn’t really dispute the diagnosis. Sighing, I placed the pages beside me on the bed and ran my fingers through my hair.
Facing Change Caused by Mental Illness
Many things can cause change in life. Illness, injury, loss, pain or triumph/success to list but a few. We can add to that list the experience of living with mental illness. A life can change enormously due to the need to find methods of coping with the day-to-day symptoms, managing medication and therapy etc. It’s not always easy to deal with these changes, especially when it feels like you have no control over what’s happening to your body or mind.
A Mind Stuck on Terror
When anxiety and depression team up, you can find yourself at the mercy of two unforgiving illnesses. You must deal with a brain that often sees the worst option possible as the most viable and obsesses over just how catastrophic that worst case scenario could be. This can leave you faced with repetitive trains of thought that simply will not stop and that can prevent you from doing day-to-day tasks or falling asleep.
Recovery Is a Different Road
I wouldn’t precisely describe the journey that I’ve been on for the past few years as recovery from mental illness. I think a better way to describe it would be to say I’ve been learning to manage my illnesses and putting coping strategies in place to improve my quality of life. From the outside that might sound quite cold, clinical even. From the inside, it’s been a process of acceptance, trial and error, patience and tenacity.