See things for what they are, no better and no worse. It’s so easy to say, but hard for any of us to do. I’ve often tried to explain my illness as two concurrent inner monologues which fight inside my head for supremacy. One is rational, cool headed, down to earth Sarah. The other is depressed, anxious or manic Sarah.
Lately depressed Sarah has been winning. Her voice has been loudest, raging that things are too hard and the winter will last forever. Anxious Sarah can’t see the point of doing anything that doesn’t give immediate satisfaction and some days her voice keeps me locked in bed, staring at the ceiling as my limbs turn to lead. She sees the efforts of others to help as insults and she would rather be alone.
Our brains play tricks on us. Our senses can let us down and we can skew the world around us to fit our preconceived notions and to fulfill our own expectations. We see exactly what we think we are going to see. And as you see the negative things, you’re brain goes, “A-ha! I told you today would suck.” So the negativity is reinforced again. Painfully for loved ones, this often means their well thought out advice and constructive criticism filters down to you as simply criticism.
It is fitting that as winter weakly turns to spring here in Toronto, Rational Sarah is making a come back. The cycle of negativity has been weakened, and almost broken. Routinely seeing three doctors, practicing CBT and changing medications are starting to show their benefits just as the sun is finally peaking through the winter clouds. And with less than a week since I was locked in my bed I am seeing things clearly again.
The instant gratification of hiding under your covers is fleeting. People in your life love you and they want the best for you. There is hope in every day that gets you out of bed and into the world. Hell, if you’re depressed, there is hope in every day that you take a shower.
Remember the next time you feel like things couldn’t get worse, ask yourself if it’s all really so bad, or is your brain playing tricks on you?
About Sarah Lindsay
Sarah Lindsay is in her mid-twenties and lives in Toronto with her boyfriend and their dog (who also has some anxiety issues). Sarah was diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder in 2005 at the age of 16 and is still trying to figure it out. Follow Sarah’s story on HMC’s Supportive Minds Blog, or additionally you can follow her on Twitter, Facebook or check out her new website: SarahsMoods.com