medical professionals talk about supporting you to recovery. I hate the word recovery. With a lot of great support I have learnt to manage my depression but I’m far from recovered from it. Does this mean that I’ve failed? Does it mean I’m not a strong enough person? Of course it doesn’t! Over use of the word recovery can put unnecessary pressure on people and leave them feeling extremely bad about themselves and even more anxious about the future.
When I look in the mirror I see lots of things, surprisingly! Its hard to get past the initial thought of hating the way I look, big bags under my eyes, dry flaky skin, spots everywhere, bald on top making me look at least ten years older! But when I look a bit deeper, the main thing I see is sadness. I try to mask it with a smile but it looks awkward and forced. In the end its my haunted looking eyes that give me away. One minute I look like a frightened little boy with all the troubles of the world on my shoulders. The next time I look I see nothing, emptiness, a distant blank expression. Maybe my defense mechanism is to completely switch off or maybe I’m seeing someone who has lost all hope and is slowly giving up on life. Either way this vulnerable person staring back at me both scares and disappoints me.
Several months ago my counselor asked me to write down what I saw when I looked in the mirror and that is what I came up with. I’m pleased to say that at present my perception of myself has somewhat changed. I’m not about to insult your intelligence by saying I’ve miraculously gone from hating my appearance, to suddenly liking it, because that’s simply not true. I have noticed some subtle changes though, that have made observing myself a little more bearable.
Where as before, I saw emptiness, fear and confusion in my eyes, now I see more understanding and even glimpses of hope and optimism.
When I play golf I spend most of my time searching for my ball in the trees! even though I’m pretty useless at it I still love the sport and strive for hitting that perfect shot. The list of things I try to do but aren’t the best at, is a long one but to me life’s not about being the best at everything, it’s more about the personal experiences you get from having a go. My social anxiety prevents me from doing this at times and I have to remind myself that I am good at things, and I have as many strengths as the next person. One of my favorite quotes is by Einstein ‘‘we’re all geniuses, but if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will spend it’s whole life thinking its stupid!’ I think this illustrates my point, anyone will struggle if they’re taken out of there comfort zone but if you enjoy the activity who cares, its much better than missing out all together.