It is 2016 as I’m writing this. I have been recovering from another bout of Depression. I have been dealing with a series of them since about 2004.
Depression was part of my crash when I experienced Autistic burn out from about 2007/2008.
Successful to Burnt Out: Experiences of Women on the Autism Spectrum
You can read about how I became non functioning, socially exhusted, and burned out in my eBook Successful to Burnt Out.
Over the years of my recovery journey, I’ve learned not to expect big results in a few months. Instead I tried to have a long term outlook.
My thoughts always come back to:
- What can I learn?
- What can I practice?
- How can I invest now for my future?
This long term outlook has paid off as I’m on a long stretch of feeling like small things I’ve practiced are all coming together.
I’ve emerged from the worst of my Depression and Anxiety. Now all thats left on my goals list is to return to volunteer (or paid!) work and start dating again.
This is a big difference to trying to survive each endles, tiring day.
The reasons for my Depression are multi-layered. I have learnt to think of my life in segments. I don’t know if you’ve heard of the Recovery Star?
The Recovery Star developed by the Mental Health Providers Forum, is an outcomes measure which enables people using services to measure their own recovery progress, with the help of mental health workers or others.Sep 10, 2009
Recovery Star | Mental Health Partnerships
I’ve found the Recovery Star helpful in assessing where I am at and identifying areas to take action on.
I’ll touch on a few practical things that I’ve done in my journey, other than the Star, to aid me in feeling like a worthy member of society again.
What have I learnt?
That I need external support
The documentaries also showed me how important it is to regularily be in councelling – even when I feel I don’t need it anymore.
I’m now seeing a psycologist regularily, who I view as my safety net. She is very experienced in working with people on the Autism Spectrum (like myself) and is also adding to my conversation skills.
That I’m not a bad conversationalist.
I’ve talked with two university students recently on subjects as diverse as Logic, fame, mental health, writing and American systemic rascism. They were absolutely fascinating people that I’m glad i’ve now connected with.
That I want and need friendships.
I know that a good quality conversation can impact my well being for days. What I came to realise is that I also want a companion. I’d like someone to talk with as I’m cooking and doing the dishes.
That I can write my own Mental Health Plan
To quote from an up and coming post on writing my own Mental Health Plan:
In March 2016 I was once again facing the frustration of having to start explaining everything again from scratch. I was also disappointed by the simplistic mental health plan my GP and I had just made.
In researching what else could be in mine, I ended up on the Queensland Health’s website and its page of guidelines for Doctors.
I ended up writing my own Mental Health Plan. It has given me a safety net when I get overwhealmed in appointments.
It also ended up giving me an unexpected confidence in my writing abilities. I have applied for admin jobs for word processing documents and letter dictation.
What have I practiced?
With practicing comes being willing to fail. For me the two go together like smoked salmon and avocado.
I’ve learned to see rebuilding my life again and again as learning curves. I try to identify the contributing factors of my relapses and practice essential life skills.
I imagine it as building on neural pathways. Trying to turn them from dirt tracks into bikeways.
How I’ve been preyed on
I’ve learned how and why soo many men used me when I wanted a boyfriend.
I learned warning signs of manipulation, how misogony is such a huge part of western cultures and about rape cultures.
Through learning these things I’ve been able to develop confidence to get to know more men and (shock! horror!) freedom to feel sexy.
I’ve been learning a number of skills in different disciplines.
These include writing non fiction, Direc notations in Quantum Mechanics, audio and video file creation, drawing and business planning to name a few.
Some of them have come in handy. For the Mental Health Plan I wrote, I used a S.W.O.T. analysis of myself as an employee.
(S.W.O.T stands for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats.)
Invest Small Steps in my Future
This concept has been handy when its time for self care and household responsibilities.
I’ve had to force myself to do things when I don’t see any benefit to them – in the hope that one day my actions may pay off.
By preparing my skills for special occasions
I started wearing make up a while ago, so when I’d eventually go to something worthy of make up, it wouldn’t look too bad.
It has been nice getting dressed up to the nines. I think its paying off!
I tried to take on a golden rule that I heard an older lady say a few months ago. “I never go out without my jewelry and hair done.”
By practicing budgetting
I took on budgetting (when I remembered), even when I don’t follow my budget.
Back in 2014 when I took this mindset on, I was budgettting infrequently, and usually not following it. The point of investing little steps at a time is for the pathway to grow stronger over time.
In 2016 I’ve been doing a weekly budget and mostly sticking to them.
By dressing nicely in case it helps
Another small way of investing in my future self is showering or dressing nicely when it makes no sense that people would judge you for not doing it.
Once again, practicing something in the off chance that they pay off. In this case in case dressing nicely changes my brain into feeling more confident.
It doesn’t make sense to me that people would use this to judge me on my capabilities. I would have thought potential would be seen through my past achievements, intelligence or kindness.
Where am I now?
- Dressing nicely and putting on jewelry daily.
- Putting on make up a couple of days a week.
- Socialising more out of the house and on social media.
- Chores are tedious but am finishing them instead of chores being endless to do and neverendingly repetative.
- Using public transport and going on activities a lot more.
- Thoughts that its possible to be dating.
- Developed social circle in my areas of interest (writing, science, community work).
- Have a comprehensive Mental Health Plan.
My journey to feeling this well has been long with many twists and turns. My series of depressive episodes just keep rolling in and I keep getting back up again.
I hope your journey can be as rewarding.
Written by KarlettaA
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