“Life doesn’t get easier or more forgiving, we get stronger and more resilient.” – Steve Maraboli

 

There’s thousands of theory’s and tactics that people will tell you are the best ways of coping with depression or any other down period in your life. Many a Dr has made a ton of money because they have discovered ways to medicate or treat patients when they are in their time of most need. These things are fantastic and have so many success stories, but if the patient lacks resilience, they are essentially fucked. You can give a depressed human a book full of ways to get through their battles but if they don’t have the will to at least try to make it through the day, it’s as good as useless.

In my opinion, resilience is something that is trained and grows stronger through the build up of experience and knowledge that you’ve successfully been through bad times before, and you have come out the other side. It isn’t something that is exclusive to only a few people, everyone has it. Some people acknowledge that every day they survive, their resilience has grown. Other people refuse to acknowledge their strength entirely. Stripping yourself of pride for continuing to choose to live is a massive disservice to you, and the people that love you. If you have battles in your head, you choose to get up and take them on, and then do it the next day, you’re brave as hell! That is resilience.

Finding pride in small victories is the only way through the colossal events your mind can create. Whenever I am in a dark place and my sole focus is expecting to wake up one morning and for it all to be over and back to normal, I am only pushing myself further into the hole. I am creating an expectation of something that is simply unlikely to just suddenly happen. 99% of the times I have come through depressed periods it is due to resilience. It has been from making the conscious decision to get up every morning and find some sort of victory to strive for. A lot of the time it won’t happen and you’ll go home drained of energy and not sure how you’re going to do tomorrow. Much to my own surprise, I and millions of other people always do.

Every day I am learning to become prouder of small victories and I hope others in the similar situations can do the same, it makes life a lot more of a positive thing to live.

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“I’ll stay strong till I am King again.”- Jamie Hay

When my demons attacked I used to think I had to wage war on them all day, every day or else they would over run my mind, and the mountain back to sanity and peace would be too big to climb. These skirmishes would inevitably leave me exhausted and at the mercy of the monster that, at that time, would seem unbeatable. After years of persisting with this approach with very mixed results, I’m finally coming around to the idea of taking the odd rest day and letting mania, or depression just be for little while. Not defeating me, not breaking me, just letting it be there, doing its thing.

Having a break from fighting doesn’t make you weak. The rest gives you a chance to evaluate where you’re at with your battles and figure how you can continue with the strength that has kept you living up until this day. 

Mindfulness and acknowledging the situation you’re in can be a wonderful learning tool for absolutely everyone. To absorb the fact that you feel pain, sadness, uncertainty or any other perceived negative emotion isn’t flying the white flag in retreat, it’s being honest with yourself, and it’s often the first step to overcoming it. Sometimes these emotions will be stronger than your will power that keeps them out of your mind, and that’s cool, the battle is a long one, it lasts more than a few days, and you will win it. 

By doing this you’ll start to learn when you really need to arm yourself and fight for your life, the ones that you really need to win. You need all the energy and positivity you can muster on those occasions.

Allow yourself the rest when you need it, you’re not giving up, this isn’t the end, it’s all part of the process of getting stronger. 

Sleep is that golden chain that ties health and our bodies together.Thomas Dekker

A skyscraper stands proudly shining in the sun, reflecting all that amazing energy off it’s beautifully clear windows. It looks to be a structure that is immovable, and free of any external pressures. It is the epitome of strength, a monument of steel and concrete. Beneath this exterior lays an elaborate puzzle of support structures, each one a vital ingredient to this buildings strength. 

Steel beam upon steel beam, concrete slab on concrete slab, they all rely on each other to maintain the structures integrity. 

Now imagine if this building was being hit by a raging typhoon, battering into the sides of the structure over and over for days on end. If every piece of the puzzle stays in place the storm will pass without incident, but if this building isn’t built like the others, and is susceptible to damage from the storm, if one beam moves just slightly, the whole thing can come crashing to the ground. 

The same can be used to describe any human being. We are all made up of an amazing structure with each piece relying heavily on the others to be able to function at their required levels. For those of us that are more susceptible to ups and downs, this can be even further magnified. 

One of the main supporting beams for every person on earth is sleep. If you’re not getting enough, everything suffers. Often for people living with mental illness sleep can make or break you. 

It can be the a symptom, or a catalyst of mania or depression. When you’re tired, it’s so easy to let your guard down.

When your head simply won’t switch off and your demons have taken control of your every thought, it can make for some of the scariest, and longest nights of your life. All you want to do is escape, but you are literally trapped inside your own frantic mind.

This is why it’s so important to have the tools to be able to cope with this. Behavioural therapy with a professional and sensibly prescribed sleeping aides are the saviour. 

Having the tactics you’ve learnt to talk yourself through the storm will save your life. Even if it only gives you a seconds reprieve, it can be enough to allow you the energy to go again. When all else fails being able to knock yourself out with a sleeping tablet for a night can feel like a gift from the heavens, it can put you back closer to a level playing field.

I can’t recommend enough to anyone going through a rough time to seek out help from a good psychologist or psychiatrist. What they can teach you is something that may save your life one day. 

We can complain because rose bushes have thorns, or rejoice because thorn bushes have roses.” ― Abraham Lincoln

There’s a killing machine stalking within you, me, and everyone else on this planet. It’s always on the look out for new prey. It lurks just out of sight but close enough to pounce at a moments notice. It’s strong as hell and can tear apart an unprepared, or unsuspecting victim. The beast I’m talking about is, negative thoughts – something I’ve really been struggling with for the last month or so.
Bi polar, other mental illnesses or absolutely no problems at all, this is something that can, and will strike anybody.

I was inspired to write this by words my friend shared with me earlier this week, “you can either be your worst enemy or your greatest ally.” This is so true. Positive self talk is something that usually comes very naturally to me, I spend my days helping others with positive thoughts in my job and use them myself everyday when I exercise. I’m constantly telling myself I’m strong enough to lift a heavy weight or I have the will power to box one more round when I’m utterly exhausted. Unfortunately in other areas of my life at the moment this falls over.
Having bi polar doesn’t make this any easier as it thrives in negativity and chaos, but this is a problem for everyone.
The key to keeping this predator at bay is to begin planting a new seed in your mind. One filled with reality and positivity. One that can assess the situation and find what the truth is, find the things that your negative mind is glossing over.

If you feel like shit because you’re wanting to lose weight but it’s not going as quickly as you’d like?Everyday that you eat well and exercise you’re one step closer to the goal and more importantly, you’re improving your health.

If you don’t have the job you really desire and can’t figure out how to move into the one you want? You’re learning what it is you really need in life and as long as you’re trying to find a way, you’re moving forwards.

These are some simple examples of finding the reality in your situation and letting it give you the confidence to continue to improve. If that fucking negative side of your brain hits you with destructive thought you’ve got to whack the bastard back with some reality and positivity straight away. It takes constant practice, determination, and an outright refusal to give in but the tide will turn and it will come naturally.

“We can’t help everyone, but everyone can help someone.” – Ronald Reagan

I was begging my sanity not to leave without me. I was at the bottom of a pit, screaming for help, screaming louder than ever before, but the screams were all internal. They were deafening, like an air horn blasting away day and night. I needed help and I needed it fast but there was no way in hell I’d admit to depression. What would that say about me? Weak, incapable, flawed. I’d be a burden to those that love me. My hell would become their hell. Above all I was terrified a doctor would confirm what I’d already known for many years. Something wasn’t right in my head. If it was officially diagnosed I couldn’t deny it anymore, it would become part of me. I had been running from it for years but it was quickly gaining on me and was going to kill me, I have no doubt in my mind.

The process of getting professional help was long, uncomfortable, and frustrating as all get out.
I can’t tell you how many GP’s, psychologists, and psychiatrists I’ve been to. They’ve ranged from completely disinterested to a little bit nutty. Surprisingly though, they all diagnosed me with the same thing, Bipolar disorder, and it was strangely relieving. Scary as hell because I had the common mindset that bipolar meant craziness, but relieving to have a name for what was inside me. Having the diagnosis gave me some clarity and I could finally try to find a way to make it work for me and my loved ones.

Although I went through years of disappointment and frustration dealing with professionals that weren’t right for me, I’m now in a position where I have a professional support network that care about me, educate me, and that I know I can count on.
There is no weakness in asking for help, the only result will be strength.
If you know something doesn’t feel right, do yourself and your loved ones a favour, ask for help.

“You’re only given a little spark of madness, you mustn’t lose it.” – Robin Williams

Today scared the shit out of me.
Today slapped me so hard in the face with reality I could feel the sting in my entire being.
Today taught me that a battle is never won.
I always had a fanciful idea that if you fight mental illness for long enough, it goes away with its head down and tail between its legs. Hearing that Robin Williams had succumb to his demons knocked that out of me. Here is a man in his 60’s who’s been dealing with this illness for many, many years. Surely he’d seen every trick and tactic his dark side had to throw at him? After going so long with countless victories, climbing out of darkness so many times, what was his undoing?
The greatest fear for myself, and every other person who is touched by mental illness, is that one day the light will go out. The will, the want, the hope, vanished.
How many battles one person can cope with is an absolute mystery, I hope never to find out, and I dream that no one else does either.
Depression is a fucked up monster that nobody should have to deal with on their own. While the light is burning you need to do everything in your power to fan your flame and those burning in the people around you.
It’s a massive cliche, but living in the moment is the only choice to make. Even if the moment is the bottom of a dark hole, it’s still possible to get out of it. Climb as hard as you can and hold your hand up so someone can help pull you out.

“But in the end one needs more courage to live than to kill himself.” ― Albert Camus

The trenches of my mind are filled with soldiers of positive thoughts. These loyal servants are ready to march into battle against this unforgiving enemy that keeps coming back with fury no matter how many times they’ve been fought off in the past. My army is strong – always sharpening their swords, storing ammunition, and learning new techniques for battle. We’ll fight when we need to.

Without warning the enemy fires the first shots of negativity and doubt. We fire back with force, hoping to end the battle before it begins. There’s silence, my mind is clear but there’s a sense of uneasiness. Are they going to launch another attack? What direction will it come from? BANG, BANG, BANG! It’s on! Missiles and bullets of positivity and negativity are flying around all over the place, some finding their target, others fading off into the distance. I’m winning this battle, it’s what I’ve been practicing for in the times of peace. I feel I can keep fighting like this for ever , sure there are a few casualties in my ranks but no major players. I will overcome this. BOOM! They’ve hit me with the one thing that my armor doesn’t protect and I can’t train for….a lack of sleep. The battle starts to rage day and night and although fighting valiantly, my soldiers are weary. Without sleep, there is no sanctuary away from battle, it never ends. Suddenly the enemy’s numbers have tripled and I’m being overrun. I fire the odd shot out in hope that it will have some kind of impact but it has little to no effect, the nothingness of depression is just around the corner.

My mind feels like its been ravaged of all goodness, it’s now a wasteland. I’m left in a trench alone and exhausted. The enemy still fires a few shots here and there but they don’t really need to, I’ve given up and to be honest, they don’t hurt as feelings are a memory. That’s when the thoughts of escape start. How long can I stay here waiting in nothingness? Nobody can help me. There’s only one way out and ending it all is my only option.

Suicide and mental illness unfortunately go hand in hand but they don’t have too. I’ve been through a few bouts of prolonged, dark depression in my life where the scenario above played out and I felt suicide was the only way to make the suffering go away. What kept me from going through with it was my support network. Friends, family, psychologists, psychiatrists – these people are all there to help. To reach out to someone when you feel like shit doesn’t make you weak, or a burden on them, it makes you brave and intelligent. That’s what friends are for – you feel bad, they help you out and if the roles are ever reversed you return the favour.

If you have someone you care about going through a bad time, show them you’re there for them. Hanging out with someone you love isn’t going to cure their depression but it will show them that you care and that they’re not alone. There are also many professional organisations such as Beyond Blue and Lifeline that specialise in helping you through tough times, use them.