How to…

…Recover from a nervous breakdown (6!)

Healing Exercise No. 6: Lists

I have become an avid and devoted list maker. I cannot fully describe to you the feeling of ticking off items from a list – it’s almost as good as hearing the pop of the first champagne bottle at a party. It feels me with a warm, oozing but triumphant glow. I have always been a bit of a list maker, because I like structure, but I am now fully committed to the task and it’s revolutionising my life.

Depending on how I’m feeling the lists vary. Sometimes I know things that I want to do the next day so I make a lot of lists entitled ‘To Do Tomorrow’ but then often I wake up and know it’s a bad day and the list changes to look a little more like this:

  • Get up
  • Shower
  • Get dressed
  • Make the bed
  • Empty dishwasher (this one is pushing it)

And other days I wake up and it seems to be a good day so they look more like this:

  • Buy cat food
  • Hoover
  • Sew table runners
  • Sort out cupboard over microwave
  • Yoga
  • Knit a hat

Either way it’s important to do only what you can feasibly manage, and on the days when it’s a real chore to get out of bed, ticking off that list feels just as good as when I tick off ‘Knit a hat’ and where depression and anxiety are concerned it’s important to be encouraging and gentle with yourself. You wouldn’t punish yourself for struggling to get out of bed with a cold so why would you punish yourself for struggling to do it with depression? Every tick is triumphant, whether it’s having gone for a run or made the bed – you have to congratulate yourself for living life with a mental illness and, when combined with other healing exercises, eventually the bad days will come fewer and further between.

This is hard for me because I’ve always been really tough on myself but this is where mental illness is teaching me things and techniques to lead a better life with or without it. When I’m over this and off antidepressants and not nervous about going out in public, I’ll still be being kinder to myself than I was before (which will ward off more mental illness episodes in itself), I’ll have gone through a wholly improving reassessment of my life and priorities, I’ll know more about myself and what I want. I’ll be more understanding, more able to help others, more experienced and ultimately a better person from going through this than I was before I broke down. There’s something to be said for re-building a life, because you have the luxury of experience and hindsight to utilise when it comes to building things back up – so ultimately you’ll be building something better, more stable, stronger.

Perhaps this is just one of those good days, but I’m starting to feel finally ready to put the last few bricks in that building.

Todays List:

  • Write blog
  • Publish blog
  • Wash sofa cushions (cat wee)
  • Take duvet to dry cleaners (cat wee)
  • Sew a top (Christmas present)
  • Go to Ikea
  • Go to Lidle
  • Be happy

Autumn style, list making, getting on with it

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One thought on “How to…

  1. A huge thanks Milly for your amazing comments on depression, you’re an inspiration. I got to the grand old age of 53 before being knocked sideways by depression/anxiety etc I’m a lot better but it still lurks, waiting to get me at low/difficult moments. You make sensible comments with humour – these blogs in particular deserve a MUCH wider readership.

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