Self compassion during mental illness

Let’s face it. Mental illness sucks. Later, it gives one a new perspective on life, shapes one into humility and can really help develop our empathy for other people during suffering.

But while it’s going on? You are unlikely to have the pre-shitty-feelings confidence and self esteem.

So how does one interrupt some of the self-whipping and feeling like a loser? Self compassion 🙂

Self compassion or being a little bit kind to ourselves is like wrapping ourselves in a metaphorical blanket. It’s hard to do. And just reading about it, or listening to a Ted talk, might be all we can do. That’s good enough.

We may feel worse when the weather is sunny and we think the world is smiling on the beach. The weather inside ourselves feels grey and unforgiving.

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So what is self-compassion? And how do you do it if life really isn’t mirroring you as a successful, awesome achiever? You might have become chubby, unemployed and too broke to leave the house even if the existential depro cloud wasn’t there…

This little video explains it all 🙂 After that, I’ll show you how I do it, even on the worst days.

I’ve learnt that being kind to myself is often just thinking up a list of all the things I’ve achieved and saying a whispered ‘well done’ to me. Like this:

Achievements:

  1. I am writing a list of things I’ve done well 🙂
  2. I made it to work and functioned
  3. I had a shower
  4. I am not out taking drugs
  5. I’ve never taken drugs
  6. I have survived lots of stress
  7. Anyone would feel like I do if they had been through so much
  8. I messaged some friends
  9. I am writing a blog entry 🙂

It’s not so hard to do this and if it is, it gets easier with time as habit changes the brain a little.

Give it a go, and not if you feel strong enough to do it, but if you don’t!

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How to handle unhelpful people

On your journey, you’ll experience doctors, family, friends, strangers, colleagues and sometimes pets (kidding) who say really unhelpful things and don’t get what mental distress feels like.

Others will be amazing.

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The unhelpful ones are those who give the worst advice, or judge you when you’re feeling worse than shitty.

Firstly, it hurts. Words hurt. You’re vulnerable and ashamed and afraid. You need love, compassion, support and sometimes medication or a bed to sleep in at a loving friend.

The technique I’ve developed is simple. Firstly, I swear quietly at them in my head. Or about the situation. Then I smile and try and say nothing to conserve my energy and avoid a debate.

Remember two things. No one is allowed to tell you right now that everything happens for a reason. They’re also only allowed to give advice with permission, or a background of their own experience. And a hug. Maybe lots of hugs.

And… memes to lighten up a heavy topic.

When the doctor tells you he won’t give you medication, and recommends meditation:

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When someone judges the fact you are taking psychiatric medication for your mental wellness:

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People who imply you can cure this with enough effort:

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One thing I’ve learnt is to feel angry, but not hold on to it, because bitterness and resentment screw up your healing process. I have learnt to hold compassion for ignorance, forgiveness for those who try hard but do it all wrong and sometimes just faking it to make it. Except when people have told me it is all in the mind, and sometimes suggested I take serious detoxes or loads of pot and other drugs to sort myself out.

Thankfully, times are changing and we are blessed to live in an era (espeically the UK) where mental health and so many shame-associated topics are now getting money and media coverage. I count my blessings with this, and look forward to the day when my kids (who will hopefully not have the same issues as me!) discuss problems in the same way they would discuss sport.

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