Aside from proofreading and editing, I work part-time in a stationers so that I’m not on my own all week. Yesterday an older lady brought in a book to be photocopied about depression. The pages she wanted copies of stated that the main cause of depression was ‘choosing to feel that way’ and it included suggestions on how to ‘cheer up’ – and this book was allegedly written by a doctor. Terrifying!
I could imagine these copies being passed on to a child in an attempt to help but causing more harm than good. Which got me thinking about motivation to recover from mental health issues, because, however much we might all hate hearing it, recovery has got to come from within ourselves. It’s horribly hard work and an immensely daunting and lonely prospect. But, aside from looking at the triggers and root causes of our problems, we’ve got to find the reasons we want to stay healthy for. One of the very first motivations I had to fight anorexia was to have the strength to lift up my (then) baby niece. What keeps it at bay now is that my general quality of life is better without it and I don’t want to let the people who love me down (sometimes these motivations can still wobble a bit but they are always there at the back of my mind). I think these are similar for my depression. I was at an assessment last week and was asked what stops me from carrying out any suicidal plans and I was ashamed to admit that it was imagining the distress of friends and family finding my body. But I was told not to feel ashamed of that reason – whatever keeps you safe is good enough.
But what about the people who can’t find a motivation to get better? I must admit that I feel frustration at people who don’t seem to try to help themselves recover (so maybe I am like the lady I mentioned at the beginning). Maybe my frustration comes from a lack of understanding or empathy, maybe it’s because I’m trying, so why aren’t they? Or maybe it’s a bit of jealousy – that I’m not longer in that dark but comforting place of low expectations – that I’ve failed by letting go for the sadness.
But I also feel sad for the people who are searching for reasons to recover but they aren’t quite concrete enough to hold on to to help pull them out of the void. What can we do for these people? How on earth can you help people who are too afraid to let go or feel they don’t deserve to be happy? I get a lot of people coming to me for advice on mental health because I’m open about it, but I can feel so useless at helping.
So I’m interested – what was it that made you fight your issues – what advice would you give? And I know that outside factors play a huge part and you can’t just wish yourself better and bang there you go, but what keeps you wanting to try?