What colour is your mood? Daily Prompt – ‘Sunny’

Daily prompt – ‘sunny’

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Holly Golightly (‘Breakfast at Tiffany’s’) called them ‘the mean reds’, a state progressively worse than what some jazz musicians and common parlance have termed ‘the blues’. Winston Churchill branded ‘it’, that terrible and impenetrable fog of depression, ‘The Black Dog’. And perhaps we ourselves find ourselves oscillating between colours on the spectrum of wellbeing.

Sunny’ is not a term commonly associated with depression. For me, it evokes inspiring images of wide open fields, blue skies, sunshine, meadows of brightly arrayed flowers, children running, laughing and playing, and key to it all….happiness.

Having a ‘sunny disposition’ connotes cheerfulness, wellbeing, and happiness. It is not the face of depression. Or is it?

Depression is not merely feeling sad. It is not something you can simply ‘pull yourself out of’. It is a real illness, as real as having a broken leg, only not as visible, and it can cause persistent distress over long periods of time.

Although a caricature of depression may involve dark clouds, lightning bolts, lashing rain, sad faces and general miserableness, which can in many cases describe the low moods and despair that some sufferers of depression may feel, it is not an accurate picture of the ‘face’ of depression.

What do I mean? I have a medical condition, among others, known as clinical depression. I was diagnosed only within the last two years, but I knew or suspected for decades that I suffered from something like this, particularly since and perhaps mainly triggered by being badly bullied at a formative time in my childhood, when I ceased to want to exist. At times the pain has been unbearable and I have not been able to hide it. However, as something that is a persistent condition, it somehow becomes ‘normal’, and since as adults we have to keep going and keep doing and keep living our lives and going about our business, we can sometimes ‘forget’ the seriousness of such conditions in ourselves and others. You do often seek to ‘just get on with it’, sometimes at your own risk. And getting on with it can mean putting on a smile, having a cheerful face and a ‘sunny disposition’ such that the invisible illness that you carry around with you is unseen and undetected.

The ‘face of depression’ therefore, at times, could in fact be a big smile, sunshine and blue skies, quite unlike the dismal ‘gloom and doom’ picture painted above. However, that makes it no less serious. Statistics show that in the UK, 1 in 4 people experience mental illness such as depression at some point in their lives, and in the US, depression is said to affect more than 15 million American adults. That means that more than likely, either you or someone you know, or know of, carries this ‘Black Dog’, and suffers from the ‘Mean Reds’, perhaps while showing you only a bright sunny smile on the surface.

So, knowing this, what can you do?

If you have been suffering and struggling for a long time, and trying to just put on a brave face, yet suspect you may have depression, please reach out for help. There are many mental health charities, and obviously talking to your doctor is a good first step. Depression is a very treatable illness. It isn’t easy. I know, I have it. Yet, you don’t have to suffer alone, in silence, or hiding behind your sunny mask all the time. A friend once told me, very helpfully, that I wouldn’t feel ashamed to reach out for help if I had a broken leg, nor try to ‘fix’ it myself (which is what I had been doing with my emotional and psychological issues, to no avail), so why should anyone feel ashamed to seek help for an equally legitimate medical condition, where the suffering is often profound and long lasting, perhaps caused by brain activity, trauma or genetics among many other factors.

If you are concerned about a friend, but are not sure because they always ‘seem happy’, carefully ask them how they are.

And if you can’t keep your sunny disposition and happy face in place today, don’t worry, it’s ok. And you’re not alone. It may seem bleak just now, but there is hope, and like me, I trust you will have brighter days ahead. x

 

The Tortoise and the Hare – Sunday afternoon random ramblings on mental health and wellbeing…

 

Tortoise-and-hare-014.jpgImage Courtesy of Google Images.

Perhaps one of Aesop’s most well known fables is that of ‘The Tortoise & The Hare’….you know the one I mean, right? If not, Google or Wikipedia will be sure to put you right 😉 However, for the purposes of my illustration, I’ll try to summarise the fable in two or three sentences. Here goes:

So one fine day, a tortoise and a hare decide to have a race against each other (I think the whole thing began with the hare mocking the slow tortoise), the hare clearly having the natural advantage in speed over the oh so slow tortoise. To all intents and purposes this is the hare’s race, and he will win hands (or paws) down; knowing this, the hare speeds off while the tortoise is making miniscule progress, so the hare decides to have a nap. While the hare is napping, the tortoise perseveres and ends up winning the race (hurrah!), leaving us with the moral of the story as, ‘slow and steady wins the race’.

Sometimes we just need a good old children’s story, fable or fairy tale to help give some perspective to our stressful adult lives. Perhaps, right now in life you feel like you’re the tortoise while all your peers are speeding off ahead of you. Or, veering completely off the path of Aesop’s fable, perhaps every morning you look in the mirror and feel concerned that your ears are getting bigger, that along with a few more grey hairs you might also be sprouting whiskers, a tail and that your chiselled jaw line is in fact becoming more and more rodent-like as you don your work attire to join all the other rats in your shared race to goodness knows where. Or perhaps you’ve given up altogether on the idea that you’re actually in a race going somewhere, even if you don’t know where that somewhere might be, and feel more affinity with a hamster, and a discontented hamster at that, on a wheel, just scrambling on and on everyday with no real distance covered despite the many steps taken. Round and round you go, wishing that like the hare you could just take a ‘time out’ and have a nap or a sabbatical of sorts from the daily grind, while still inching ahead like the tortoise to ultimately win the race. Whatever will it take to make you feel ‘human’ again?

Firstly, let me assure you that you are not alone, and that much of humanity shares this ‘modern day’ dilemma. I would venture to say that we need to write a new story. One in which we do not feel forced to view life as a race, or a competition. One in which we know that it is ok to take a nap, or to go at a slow and steady pace. It’s ok, people, it’s ok! 🙂

I understand how hard it can be to give ourselves the permission to rest, to take time out, or just to stop and say, ‘enough of this race, already, I just want to go for a gentle stroll in a sunkissed woodland or meadow and hear the birds singing’.

We weren’t designed to be in a constant, unending state of fight or flight. For our mental health and wellbeing it is important to take time out for ourselves EVERY DAY simply to BE. Today, I would encourage you to take a step back and just quieten your heart and your mind and your breathing. Be still. Listen. Pray. Grieve. Whatever it is that you need to do or be in the quietness, take time to experience that. Life is not a race, but it is a journey. We may spend long stretches walking or crawling alone while at other times in our life’s journey we will have encouraging companionship, or even hostile opposition. Where you are right now is alright. I would urge you to commit to your own wellbeing by doing the things that make for peace in your life. The simplest but perhaps one of the most effective places to start is with your breathing. Something so simple has had a profound effect on my wellbeing, as someone who has PTSD, complex trauma, panic attacks, generalised anxiety disorder (GAD) and severe clinical depression. So I don’t say what I say lightly, I say it because I care and I know it helps. Make it a practice everyday or as often as you can to focus on your breathing. Inhale deeply through your nose and exhale deeply from your mouth. This helps to regulate your nervous system, calm the fight and flight mechanism and ‘anxiety hormones’ if you will, and still the mind. Like a runner in a race (yep, back to races again…if you’re not confused, you’re not paying attention! 🙂 ) you will need to practice, exercise your breath and your mental strength, and stay in training. This is core work, just as you would strengthen your core physically through exercise, regulating your breathing is essential to your wellbeing.

Keep up this exercise throughout your life, yes, slow and steady 🙂 and supplement it with building mental strength and resilience through the way you regulate your inner ‘self talk’. Be kind, compassionate and encouraging to yourself, but be real with yourself too. Perhaps you may find it helpful when taking time out to keep a notepad and pen beside you so that you can jot down the thoughts or worries that come to mind, and even ideas for projects or solutions or inspiration. Relax, take your time, realise that this is not a race, but it is LIFE, your life, and it is happening now, and sometimes the best way to ‘get ahead’ is just to stop, take time out, rest awhile, lean against a tree and look up at the sky, and simply ‘BE’.

Until next time, take care and be kind to yourself, and to those who are part of your life’s journey in this season.

Much love. xx

 

Guest Post – Mindfump

Thanks to Mindfump for allowing me to reblog his article on mental health issues.  Check out his blog at https://wordpress.com/read/feeds/66574131/posts/1505927683 and if you need further encouragement on similar issues of mental health, self care, health, fitness and wellbeing, you can find some helpful posts on my blog under the relevant tabs / menus at the top of my page.

 

 

Can You Outrun Mental Health Issues?

Mindfump!

During my 15 years or so of mental health issues I have done many things to try and avoid, change, take control and cure myself of my issues. The things I do are often misinterpreted as things like ‘he loves to travel‘ or ‘he just loves exercise‘ or ‘he enjoys other cultures‘. Now that is not to say those things are not entirely true but it’s never the reason I do the things I do.

For instance, the first time I tried to outrun my mental health was not by using my legs but by moving to a new city. I lived in the north of England in a very small, insular town which quite literally suppressed ambition, creativity and change. My idea was that it was the town’s fault. It was to blame. So I left and this pattern continued for the next 10…

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Stay Supported with a Blogging Group

The Daily Post

Did you know? Bloggers who participate in group blogs and blogging communities blog for longer periods of time than those who go it completely alone. After analyzing the history of thousands of blogs, our data wizards concluded: “People who write in groups are more likely to keep writing.”

While it’s easy to focus only on our own blogs and what we want to create, paying attention to the social aspects of blogging has myriad benefits — it’s an excellent way to get constructive feedback on your work, technical help, and stretch yourself as a writer (or photographer, or sketcher, or poet, or…). And being social generates friendships and views, which don’t hurt either!

Here are a few of our favorite ways to get involved with a supportive blogging community.

Home-grown help: The Blogging Meetup

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Folks who participate in Blogging U. often find themselves eager to keep in touch with other bloggers taking the same…

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Weekly Photo Challenge – ‘Transient’ – The Transience of Nature & of Life…

Weekly Photo Challenge – Transient

 

A selection of 10 other Inspiring Entries to the Weekly Photo Challenge for ‘Transient’, (I’m sure there are many more 🙂 ) :

https://kochiphotography.wordpress.com/2017/06/24/weekend-specials-2/

Weekly Photo Challenge: Transient

https://judichow.wordpress.com/2017/06/24/weekly-photo-challenge-transient/

Weekly Photo Challenge: Transient

The ever transient clouds…

Weekly Photo Challenge: Transient 

Peek-a-boo view

https://retirenicaragua.wordpress.com/2017/06/21/weekly-photo-challenge-life-is-fleeting/

https://wordwacker.wordpress.com/2017/06/21/nothing-lasts/

https://www.travelcrusade.org/2015/09/14/the-best-place-in-india-to-view-sunrise/