One of the things that my therapists have recommended, whether it be one-to-one, group, or the annoying voiced online variety, is that for each action I either have regrets about, or not being sure what to do, write a pros and cons list.
The idea is good in embryo but it comes to a grinding halt because of the very thing it’s meant to help, my mind. Writing a pro is all well and good but as soon as I write a con, it acts as a trigger and before long I’m shrouded in self loathing and recrimination.
Nevertheless, the principle is sound. There’s no specific thing I need doing at the moment, and very little time recently where I’ve been navel gazing. Perhaps, taking the step out of that comfort zone, a pros and cons list might just be helpful as a synopsis for where I am with my depression currently, as opposed to six months ago when it overwhelmed me. Let’s see …..
Pro: The suicidal thoughts have come down drastically the past six months
Con: They are still there and are stronger in stressful situations
Overall: Work to do but better
Pro: Accepted that I will never speak to or see my ex ever again
Con: I still love her deeply and miss her like crazy.
Overall: I’m far from over her and still let it affect my life entirely. Probably worse.
Pro: I’ve proactively addressed my financial problems and complained when I felt I’ve been wronged.
Con: Still a cripplingly high energy and water bill to pay.
Overall: A lot to pay but arrangements in place to pay them. Better definitely.
Pro: The long spells of tears and sobbing have all but disappeared.
Con: I still regularly feel like my heart has been ripped out of me.
Overall: I’d rather get rid of the feeling than the physical effects. No better.
Pro: Very positive feedback for more voluntary work and starting soon.
Con: Still nobody wants to take a chance with me on paid employment.
Overall: The self respect of feeling like I’m earning my income returns. Much better.
Pro: Settled into a pattern of housework every single day.
Con: Sometimes slovenly completed.
Overall: Pleased with how much more pleasant the home looks. Better.
Pro: Walking longish distances every day.
Con: Opens up a raft of negative thinking while I walk along.
Overall: Better physically, worse mentally. Given the choice I’d swap.
Pro: Haven’t dropped into a habit of switching on daytime tv.
Con: Have recently lost interest in reading or writing to fill any spare time.
Overall: Worse. I need to keep disciplined and my mind occupied or I’ll end up in the company of Jeremy Kyle in the mornings.
Pro: Rise from bed early nearly every morning. I can count on one hand the days I’ve not been able to get out of bed.
Con: Sleeping patterns terribly out of kilter. Seldom asleep before 3am.
Overall: This just isn’t healthy, despite eradicating entire days under the duvet. Worse.
Pro: Positive thoughts about myself sporadically appearing, boosting self confidence.
Con: When one bad thought hits me, it snowballs. And still happens often.
Overall: Despite the impression of it being otherwise, my self esteem has actually improved ever so slightly. Better.
Pro: I’ve taken many positive steps to improve my life. It’s taken a lot of gumption to do it too.
Con: The bad, long term stuff, cuts me to the quick, and hurts me to the bone, just as much as before.
Overall: There’s not much in it, and I do feel awful about myself and inestimably sad often, but overall I’m in the black and getting rid of that black dog.
So there we are. Despite my angst and misgivings, I’m probably in a better place than at the start of the year. Looking back, I’m surprised I’ve come through it and actually done so much to change my life around.
Still lots of work to do, but the last six months have been a start. All I need do now is something that has to be not just a one-off, or limited, process. It has to be continual.
And that’s develop.