Wednesday, 15 January 2014

Bows, Brogues & Pearls

TRIGGER WARNING: Suicidal desires are discussed in this blog post. Though such comments are made in the spirit of wellness and improved mental health, if they may trigger unhealthy behaviours, please do not read further.

I was listening to the World at One on Radio 4 today. Yes, I know I have a serious love for Radio 4! One of the featured stories was that of Jonny Benjamin who began hearing voices in childhood and became convinced that his life was that of The Truman Show. At age 20, Jonny was diagnosed with Schizoaffective Disorder and tried to commit suicide. But thanks to an ordinary bloke, he didn't. Jonny is now searching for this everyday hero, who he nicknamed Mike, who stopped him from becoming another statistic. (For more on the campaign: please visit the Rethink website) Every day, 16 young men commit suicide. Suicide is the most common cause of death in men aged under 35. But "Mike" stopped Jonny becoming one of these many dead and gave hope and prompted recovery just from stopping to talk. 

This made me think about my own experiences. Alongside, or perhaps because of, my depression, I also suffer low self-esteem. Low doesn't really describe for me what I experience. Basically, I believe I am a horrible, sinful person. With self-esteem, the human mind's cleverness works against us. At some point, I will have begun to think that I was a horrible person. Ever since that moment, my mind has turned into a detective looking for evidence that this is true. So every word spoken in anger becomes further evidence. And as I grew older, it became easier and easier to find evidence as every word, every look became proof that I was a horrible person. This gathering of evidence became my whole life and more importantly, the hiding of this evidence became the all-consuming endeavour of my waking hours. In every situation, I was trying to hide my horribleness from every person I met or even glanced at. This doesn't leave much time for anything like having fun because your mind is telling you that if you laugh too loud that will make it obvious that you are horrible. If you take an extra biscuit, that is definite proof. If you forget your Maths homework. If you don't smile at every person. If you don't make conversation. It is all consuming and it is tiring trying to hide what you believe is your true self. It became so bad that if a woman glanced at me in Sainsbury's, she was obviously thinking that I was fat, which was my fault, which made me a horrible person, which was why I deserved to die, and then it was so painful being me that I wanted to die, I yearned to die. Nothing else would stop this pain.

In the past months, I've been receiving CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy), which has helped me begin to start tackling these thoughts. It has helped me to recognise an unhelpful thought and examine the evidence. To examine the evidence that I'm not fat, that I'm not a horrible person, that I don't deserve to die. So I have begun to look for evidence that I'm not a horrible person but a good one. Last week, I went to do a shop at Sainsbury's, which is a scary task for me. The people. The food. The fear. I was leaving the shop and feeling a bit flustered, so I went to a nearby bench to sort my things out. As I did so, a more mature lady spoke to me. All she said was, "These benches are useful for sorting yourself out." That was it. So simple but the fact this nice lady, who reminded me of my Grandma, would speak to me must mean that I wasn't horrible. And I picked up my bags, said goodbye and left smiling. I was able to buy a bunch of daffodils on the way home because I felt like being nice to myself. Because just maybe I deserved the happiness of a bunch of daffodils. 

Now from daffodils to tweed! I love this outfit. It makes me feel grown-up and ready to take on the world. There is something so perfect about tweed. It makes me think of Agatha Christie and this pencil skirt from Joules is a great addition to my wardrobe! Long enough to smooth out my lumps and bumps but still stylish enough to make me feel fantastic! I teamed it with a cable knit sweater and then a cute spotted blouse. The finishing touches were bows, brogues and pearls! Perfection in an outfit.

Jumper: H&M
Blouse: Primark
Skirt: Joules
Scarf: Primark
Brogues: White Stuff
Earrings: Little jewellery shop in Barcelona
Necklace: Accessorize (gift from Mum)