A Shift in Perspective

A weekend away should be fun and relaxing, right? Not so much when you have anxiety and depression.

I stayed at Bathampton in a cottage for a couple of nights with a few friends. It was beautiful, despite being January, and it was great to spend time with my friends — I even had some fun, playing games and drinking a little wine and appletinis… Yet it was very difficult.

The view from my bedroom window.

Mental illness sucks the pleasure out of everything and turns me into a negative person, which I hate. I believe I’m naturally optimistic and positive, but these aspects of my personality are obliterated by depression and anxiety.

I can’t help but compare my life to my friends’ lives: they all seem to have so much to live for compared to me. They all have proper jobs and none of them live with their parents. They have all had relationships. I feel like a freak next to them.

I know my friends will be appalled if they read this, but I feel like I’m dragging them down when I’m feeling this way. I spent a lot of the weekend feeling guilty because I know I’m not fun to be with right now.

 

The good times also tend to emphasise the bad aspects of my life — and most aspects of my life feel bad at the moment.

Feeling happy for a fleeting moment is great at the time, but afterwards it reminds me of how few happy moments I have experienced lately. I come crashing down to the reality of my problems, which I managed to forget for an hour or so, and the contrast makes me feel even worse.

As I said in my last post, I have been repeating “this too shall pass” a lot, in an attempt to find comfort and hope, but most of the time it doesn’t feel like my depression will pass. I know it will, on a logical level, but I can’t feel it emotionally.

My friends (who are awesome and supportive, by the way) did their best to cheer me up, but nothing really works. They kept reminding me that I have my Machu Picchu trek to look forward to, but that didn’t help because it doesn’t feel real yet. I’m constantly expecting bad things to happen which will prevent me from enjoying the experience. Even now, I’m convinced that everyone else in the group is a lot better than me: fitter, more prepared and much more successful fundraisers. I feel like I will be the fuck-up in that group, too.

 

But it’s not all terrible. It gave me a slight change of perspective.

I did enjoy many parts of my weekend away and getting away from my daily routine did me some good. I missed my dog, which makes me appreciate him more! It was also nice to get away from my family (in the best possible way, of course) because living with my parents and brother often feels claustrophobic.

I’m also looking forward to returning to modern jive classes, after missing loads due to illness, and seeing the friend I go with more often than I have over the past few months. I’m also terrified, thanks to the anxiety, but it will do me good to get out more again.

We walked along the canal into Bath and back on Saturday, which reminded me of how walking improves my mood. I hadn’t walked much last week, since it rained a lot and I felt too unmotivated. However, I walked up the lane today and intend to keep walking regularly.

I managed to find small things to appreciate, despite my low mood: pleasure in watching the boats on the canal, playing a singing game with my friends, finishing the novel I was reading. That’s improvement.

I wish I could tell you that the weekend led to an epiphany which has given me a fresh new mindset, but mental illness just doesn’t work like that. I enjoyed my weekend overall, but I came home exhausted and spent a lot of yesterday crying because I hate my life at the moment.

However, you may have noticed I keep using the phrases “at the moment” and “right now” which indicates the possibility of change. I think that’s hopeful.

 

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