Depression and Relationships

When you suffer from depression, many aspects of your life suffer. You may be tired all the time, you can’t sleep, you can’t function. Another thing that happens is that you view the world around you in a far more negative way. If you are in a relationship you might see doom and gloom when, in fact, your relationship is actually loving and healthy.

I suffered an incredibly dysfunctional childhood and my parents had a very dysfunctional relationship. We were quite isolated which meant that I did not witness any healthy relationships as I was growing up. My idea of a healthy relationship were the kinds you see on films and TV: the Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan variety. I met my husband: an incredibly kind and decent man. However, because of my upbringing I saw terrible flaws in my marriage when they didn’t actually exist. Every argument or disagreement had me thinking about heading to the divorce courts.

It was only after therapy that I realised that this was the case. My husband is allowed to disagree with me and we are allowed to have conflict, as long as we work out how to come to a healthy resolution. Relationships involve hard work and sacrifice, I realise that now.

If someone is unhappy in their relationship they need to ask themselves why. Is it due to the relationship? Are you and your partner friends and are you compatible? If you’re not, then by all means say goodbye to each other. However, when you realise that you have a mental illness ask yourself whether the thoughts that you are experiencing are the actual reality and whether your relationship is actually worth saving.

For further information read the following:

https://www.blurtitout.org/2016/02/10/relationships-and-depression/

 

 

 

 

Dealing with Setbacks

After therapy, there is a temptation to think that you have finally been ‘cured’ of mental health issues. You have a spring in your step and see the world clearly. However, as soon as the stresses and strains of everyday life come back, there is a risk of having a setback.

The setback might come when you least expect it: life seems to be fine, you might be working a bit harder than usual, perhaps sleeping less, worrying about the bills, about your family, about your relationship. The worries may seem small but when they are piled one on top of another they begin to escalate.

Then bam, the tears start to fall, your mind becomes foggy, your walking becomes a lot slower. You are at risk of another depressive episode. What do you do?

Recognise the Signs

If you have had therapy you’ll recognise your irrational thinking patterns and you’ll be aware of them. If you haven’t you may wish to read  Your Thoughts Are Not You and also How My Weird Brain Works for some ideas about what irrational thinking patterns actually are.

Write Down Your Worries

Write down a list of what is worrying you at the moment and then do some CBT so that you’re able to put your worries into perspective.

Take Time Out

Every Friday I take my daughters to a piano lesson. During this time I spend an hour in a cafe round the corner from their lesson where I do my CBT exercises. It’s an opportunity for me to look after my mental-health.

Do Exercise and Get Fresh Air

Even a ten minute walk outside every day is good for you.

Digitally Unplug

When I feel I’m having a setback the first thing I do is switch off my phone. Social media is also a bad thing for me. Read Why I’ve Left Facebook and Surviving Without My Phone for reasons why.

Get Enough Sleep

My mental health suffers a great deal when I’m tired. Having enough sleep is vital for good mental health.

These are some of the ways we can deal with setbacks and preserve our sanity. If you are still feeling low, please don’t hesitate to see a professional, who will be able to help you further.

Estranged Siblings

They say blood is thicker than water. Unfortunately, there are some times in your life when you have to cut ties with blood relations. You may love the person very much, but for the sake of your own sanity, sometimes you have to let go.

I am a mature, successful and rational human being. However, there is one person who I just can’t get on with, and that’s my sister. We grew up in an incredibly dysfunctional, toxic, violent environment. She is the eldest child and has suffered a great deal. Her issues remain unresolved, despite growing up and forging an incredibly successful life for herself. She has an amazing career, a thriving relationship, beautiful children and plenty of money in the bank. Yet she somehow hates me. I have done absolutely nothing to deserve this hate apart from being born second, not having to put up with the same level of abuse that she did from our father. However, I still suffered her hate. She would bully me, belittle me, and tried her best to steal the limelight, even on my wedding day.

For years I put up with it, feeling incredible guilty because she suffered so much. I tried to make amends on many occasions, turning a blind eye to her increasingly horrible behaviour and always apologising when she said I’d done something wrong. The final straw came when I overheard her saying nasty things about my children. I couldn’t believe it. Enough is enough, I thought. Now I no longer speak to her.

I love my sister very much. I always will. However, sometimes love is not enough. Sometimes you have to cut ties for the sake of your own mental health. She will always be in my heart, even though she is no longer in my life. I wish her nothing but happiness.

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Measuring Success Using The Third Metric

Recently, I read Ariana Huffington’s book, ‘Thrive’. Huffington is most well-known for being the founder of ‘The Huffington Post’. She argues that the traditional way that we measure success, through money, power and status, is wrong. Instead, she argues that the best way to define a successful life is by embracing what she calls the ‘Third Metric’. To do this, we must consider:

Well-Being – Looking after ourselves, getting enough sleep, exercising, meditating and making ourselves a priority;

Wisdom – Practicing compassion and empathy and putting our own inner peace before chasing after promotion or profit;

Wonder – Digitally unplugging and embracing the awe that can be found around us;

Giving – Contribute to the well-being of others, not just financially but through mentoring and giving up our time.

There have been many articles about the book. One of my favorites is below:

http://partners4prosperity.com/how-do-you-measure-success-thrive-the-third-metric

If you wish to purchase the book here is the link:

 

And if you want some stationery so that you can practice what Huffington preaches, here are some treats at Kikki K:

http://www.kikki-k.com/stationery/collections/thrive-sage

The Kindness Pact

I have just finished reading ‘The Kindness Pact’ by Dominique Bertolucci. The book argues that we are often kind to other people but we need to be far kinder to ourselves. She lists 8 things that we ought to do to be kinder.

The First Promise: Accept your imperfections

The Second Promise: Always do your best

The Third Promise: Stop comparing yourself

The Fourth Promise: Believe in your potential

The Fifth Promise: Silence your inner critic

The Sixth Promise: Challenge yourself

The Seventh Promise: Stop making excuses

The Eighth Promise: Love Yourself

The book can be purchased using link below:

 

There is also a free workbook on the author’s website which outlines all the principles. Simply click the link below:

tkpworkbook

 

2016 – The Year of the Breakdown

2016 was a difficult year. It was the year that I finally acknowledged my mental illness and took steps to improve my own well-being. I have always suffered from dark moods, as a result of a particularly traumatic childhood, but this year there were a few triggers which made it worse for me.

Last summer, I learnt how to ride a bike for the first time.

https://gettingoverthepastblog.wordpress.com/2016/06/09/a-story-of-hope/

Although I was ecstatic at finally learning, it got me thinking. I’m a mum, and would die for my kids, yet nobody thought about teaching me to ride a bike when I was young. Why? I’m a kind person. I didn’t deserve my childhood. I kept dwelling on this.

Then my husband, who I’ve been with since I was 20, got a new job because his old one was making him stressed, and took a huge pay cut without telling me. I have a stressful job myself but I have stuck at it as I have to support my family. I’m the main breadwinner and pay the mortgage and the bills. I felt taken for granted because of this. As well as this, I was under a lot of pressure at work, someone who I thought was a very good friend turned out to be anything but, and then a relative who I love dearly stopped talking to me.

All of these things led me to have a major depressive episode. I suffered a great deal. I was very lucky because I told someone at work whose wife suffered from depression, and he gave me such good advice. I practised mindfulness but as my depression was so severe I needed therapy. I went to the doctor, and then for CBT and this worked. You can read about the techniques I used and how I came out of my depressive episode here:

https://gettingoverthepastblog.wordpress.com/2016/10/01/finally-smiling/

I still suffer from low moods but these are far less severe than in the past. I can recognise dysfunctional thoughts and am able to move past them quickly. I also exercise regularly, do charity work and continue to explore ways that I can maintain my happiness. Some other relevant blog posts are below if you wish to find out more:

https://gettingoverthepastblog.wordpress.com/2016/06/04/mental-health-and-exercise/

https://gettingoverthepastblog.wordpress.com/2016/06/19/my-visit-to-nacoa/

https://gettingoverthepastblog.wordpress.com/2016/08/14/easy-goal-setting/

https://gettingoverthepastblog.wordpress.com/2016/06/03/happiness-journals/

https://gettingoverthepastblog.wordpress.com/2016/07/11/happiness-workshops/

I hope my story shows that if you are suffering from depression it is possible to move on. I always thought that I was confident, hardworking and together, but I obviously was not. Sometimes it takes something like this to make you sit back, acknowledge the heartache in your own life, before you can finally move forward.51hvfrxymql

Why I’ve Left Facebook

So it has finally happened. After a couple of false starts I’ve done it. I’ve left Facebook. It has been 5 days since my last post, apart from yesterday when I quickly logged on to tell people that I had left. So why did I do it?

Facebook Was Taking Up Too Much of My Time

Although I only logged on twice a day, this was taking up about half an hour of my time. This comes to 10950 minutes, or over 182 hours, or nearly 8 days a year. For what? Instead of spending this time looking down at my phone, I’m spending the time interacting with my children, family and friends instead.

The Facebook World Isn’t Real

I was comparing my less-than-perfect, but happy life, with the lives of people on Facebook. It was getting me down. These people were just showing me the best parts of their lives, rather than the everyday normality of them. I never saw the bad bits. For example, I saw someone’s amazing wedding, but she never mentioned that this guy was a two-timing adulterer who she left the following year. There is another woman who is always boasting about the gifts her husband has bought her, but I’ve met her husband and he treats her like scum. Others put pictures of furniture, house extensions, parties out. Things that make you think that they have got their lives together and you haven’t.

 

People Use Facebook to Air Their Dirty Laundry in Public

A couple I know split up last year. Firstly, she put posts of herself in a bikini on Facebook with a cocktail in her hand. This was because she was having an affair with one of her Facebook friends and these photos were for him. Then her mother started posting passive aggressive status updates about her son-in-law. Then the husband started posting photos of himself, topless, with various women. Needless to say the couple no longer live together. The sad thing is they have two children who will eventually see all this stuff on Facebook. There must be a far more dignified way to end a marriage than this.

Facebook Brings Out the Worst in People

When you scroll down the Facebook news feed, you see what posts people ‘like’. I was disheartened when a relation ‘liked’ a far-right Neo-Nazi group. The problem is that many Facebook posts bring out the ugly underbelly of British society.

Facebook Friends Are Not Your Real Friends

I have had a difficult year this year. I have had pain in my heart and darkness in my head. What has got me through are my children, my family, and a handful of wonderful friends who have made an effort to meet me, have interacted with me, and have treated me like a human being. I had 163 friends on Facebook. I wouldn’t recognise most of them if they walked past me in the street. A lot of my real friends are not actually on Facebook and they have a much better quality of life than the people who are constantly posting status updates on Facebook. As well as this, you do feel left out when people are having a lovely time on Facebook, going to weddings or parties that you haven’t been invited to.

Facebook is a Bit Vulgar

In the old days, you’d go out with your friends, take a few photos. A couple of weeks later you’d get them developed and perhaps share them with one another. Now, in an instant, you can take a selfie of yourself at a flattering angle, filter it to make yourself look like an unreal version of you, and then share it with hundreds of friends. This is showing off at an extreme level, especially as the photo isn’t actually the real, authentic you. Then you wait for the likes and the comments to pour in. The problem is that validation is coming from an external source. I want my children to be confident enough to know that they are beautiful without having someone whom they hardly know tell them that they ‘like’ a photo-shopped version of themselves. I also want to interact with real human beings, see their eyes, their smiles, and hear their laughter, rather than chat to digital friends who I’m unlikely to ever meet.

Facebook Makes You Feel Unpopular

Regardless of how many friends you have on Facebook, there will always be someone who has more. There will always be someone who gets more likes than you. In this way, you will always feel unpopular on Facebook.

You Give Away Too Much of Yourself on Facebook

People find out things about you that you probably don’t want them to know. In an instant you can share a status update and it is out there, whether positive or negative. The issue is that even if you delete that update half an hour later it has already been seen and you can’t take it back.

I Can’t Be Doing with the Drama

This year, someone I don’t even know blocked me on Facebook. She wasn’t even one of my friends. I have no idea why she did it. All I can think is that it gave her a bit of power. I’m too old and too tired for all of that nonsense. The friending, unfriending, blocking, unblocking. It’s just juvenile and immature. You expect it from children but not from middle-aged women. If I have a problem with someone, I’d rather just talk to them and resolve it in the real world rather than the digital one.

People Judge You Negatively on Facebook

There are some really nasty people out there. When they see your photos on Facebook, they are thinking bad things about you, not good. It’s sad but true. You also have people who stalk your wall with the sole intention of viewing you in a negative manner. There are also stalkers who are trying to find out about your private life, but don’t actually talk to you when they see you. I would rather people saw and spoke to the real me, rather than the artificial online version.

 

I have changed a lot this year. The person on Facebook isn’t the real me. In 2017 I want to make more of an effort to see people in the flesh, get to know them, look them in the eye and interact with them. Facebook was great while it lasted, but I don’t need it anymore.

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A Christmas Farewell…

Just a quick one to let you know I’m not on Facebook anymore. I deactivated my account but know there are some people who may wish to continue to follow my blog, so please copy and paste this into your web browsers. I’ll continue to post a blog every Saturday. This week it will be about my reasons for leaving social media. If anyone wishes to keep in touch just send a message via my blog page. My account will be deactivated permanently on Christmas Eve. Have a lovely Christmas and peaceful 2017.

 

Your Thoughts Are Not You

Many people mistake their thoughts for reality. This is absolutely fine if you are a confident person with lots of self esteem. You look in the mirror and think ‘hey, looking good’ or read a book and think ‘boy, I’m so smart’. However, for a lot of us this isn’t the case. Often when I look in the mirror I’ll think ‘I’m so fat and quite hideous’. When a friend doesn’t reply to a text I’ll get anxious and wonder if I’ve done something wrong. This would be fine if it only happened once in a while, but when it happens day in day out the negative voices in your head become quite deafening. You believe them. You mistake them for the truth. When someone pays you a compliment you disregard it. ‘They must feel sorry for me.’ When someone criticises you you believe the criticism and take it incredibly personally, whilst also thinking ‘you can’t hate me any more than I hate myself’.

I am lucky. It has taken me 39 years but I finally realise that my thoughts are not real. They are just a product of my brain. They are not the truth. So now when I feel they are negative or spiralling out of control, I take myself out, sit down and write them down, work out how they are dysfunctional and replace them with a more rational thought. Let me give you a scenario:

Scenario: My friend hasn’t replied to my text

Automatic Thought: Why would they? Why would anyone ever like you? You don’t deserve to have any friends.

How you feel: Worthless.

Rational Thought: They are probably busy. They will reply when they have time. Sometimes it takes you a while to reply to texts too.

How you feel now: A lot happier.

We would never allow anybody to talk to our friends in the way our negative thoughts talk to us. If we let this negative self talk spiral out of control it can lead to severe depression. When I feel my own mind wandering in this direction I do lots of things:

Get fresh air

Do exercise

Treat myself: a coffee, paint my nails, buy a magazine, go shopping

Do CBT exercises

Drink a lot of water

Digitally unplug

Below I have listed some of the negative thought patterns that people have which can lead to depression. If you can recognise these you are able to realise that your thoughts can’t control you and will be a lot happier. Remember, most grown ups don’t play tricks on one another. Don’t let your brain play tricks with you.

10 Distorted Thinking Patterns (Cognitive Distortions)

Here are the 10 distorted thinking patterns according to Dr. Burns.  Burns writes:

  1. All-Or-Nothing Thinking – You see things in black-and-white categories. If your performance falls short of perfect, you see yourself as a total failure.
  2. Overgeneralization – You see a single negative event as a never-ending pattern of defeat.
  3. Mental Filter – You pick out a single negative defeat and dwell on it exclusively so that your vision of reality becomes darkened, like the drop of ink that colors the entire beaker of water.
  4. Disqualifying the positive – You dismiss positive experiences by insisting they “don’t count” for some reason or other. In this way you can maintain a negative belief that is contradicted by your everyday experiences.
  5. Jumping to conclusions – You make a negative interpretation even though there are no definite facts that convincingly support your conclusion.
    A. Mind reading. You arbitrarily conclude that someone is reacting negatively to you, and you don’t bother to check this out.
    B. The fortune teller error. You anticipate that things will turn out badly, and you feel convinced that your prediction is an already-established fact.
  6. Magnification (Catastrophizing) or Minimization– You exaggerate the importance of things (such as your goof-up or someone else’s achievement), or you inappropriately shrink things until they appear tiny (your own desirable qualities or the other fellow’s imperfections). This is also called the “binocular trick.”
  7. Emotional Reasoning – You assume that your negative emotions necessarily reflect the way things really are: “I feel it, therefore it must be true.
  8. Should Statements – You try to motivate yourself with shoulds and shouldn’ts, as if you had to be whipped and punished before you could be expected to do anything. “Musts” and “oughts” are also offenders. The emotional consequence is guilt. When you direct should statements toward others, you feel anger, frustration, and resentment.
  9. Labeling and Mislabeling – This is an extreme form of overgeneralization. Instead of describing your error, you attach a negative label to yourself: “I’m a loser.” When someone else’s behavior rubs you the wrong way, you attach a negative label to him: “He’s a goddam louse.” Mislabeling involves describing an event with language that is highly colored and emotionally loaded.
  10. Personalization – You see yourself as the cause of some negative external event which in fact you were not primarily responsible for.

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