Insomnia Diaries

Insomnia Diaries

There’s so much I wish to say and do but I do not know where to start. It’s weird because I actually know which steps I need to take. But knowing and actually doing are two completely different things.

On most days, I can’t get myself to do much. Besides eat, of course, because even on my worst day, I can still eat enough for two grown men, at least. How I wish I were one of those people who get stressed or sick or sad and lose their appetite!

Anyway, I’ve received A LOT of support from my friends over the past two months, something I cannot take lightly. If it weren’t for them, I’d probably be fully depressed right now. Thank God for the endless distractions and the unawkward silences. I really don’t know where I’d be otherwise.

I’m off work for the rest of the week. And as you can imagine, my to-do list is sky high. I’ve resolved to try and reduce that list in the coming weeks, because my lack of productivity is actually starting to bother me. A lot of people say recovery is a choice. And while I, for the most part, don’t really agree with the statement as I feel like it invalidates our daily struggles to reach recovery even while it might take some time, I feel like I might need to be a little bit harder on myself, push some more lest this state of hopelessness and just being becomes a way of life. We really wouldn’t want that.

I guess it’s in times like this that being an empath comes in handy. I channel people’s energy and then mirror it. And I spent this evening around hopeful, inspired, hardworking ladies and their energy is bubbling forth in me. Hopefully I’ll be able to preserve enough of it to get me through the days ahead.

But for now, let me try to get some sleep. Tomorrow is another day.

Good thoughts and good wishes to you all…

❤ Zeri ❤

It begins with you.

It begins with you.

My native language has so many derogative terms for the display of ones feelings. When it’s not kyejjo, which when loosely translated means being a cry baby, it’s “kutijja” ( in the case of love or romance) which would mean an exaggerated display, I think. But it’s not really a good thing. If you pay attention, what everyone is trying to say in essence is put a lid on it. Whatever it is, no one else needs to know. Your feelings are your business. And so you have a whole lot of people walking about with no idea what it means to actually feel stuff.  A bunch of robots, if you ask me. How does anyone live like that?

Anyway, I think our cultural refusal to acknowledge emotions has a huge role to play in our people’s refusal to acknowledge things like depression, anxiety, bipolar, schizophrenia etc as real. We imagine that like emotions, that stuff can be locked away and forgotten about; that those who actually suffer from these things (read: those who fail to ‘deal’ with their emotions responsibly ) are cry babies and/or attention seekers, which are collectively termed ‘kyejjo’. Basically, what they are saying is you can get over it. You can forget it. You can choose not to let it affect you. What is it anyway? Those are white people problems/ diseases for the rich/stuff that only affects the current generation. It’s very sad; sad because so many are forced to live in silence and in shame (on top of the on going turmoil in their heads) and many still are being subjected to mental assylums, traditional healers etc in an effort to make them normal. Not to mention those who , unable to cope, resort to suicide as an end to it all.

The stories break my heart. Why would anyone consciously let themselves suffer if there was something they could do about it? Who in their right mind would want attention/sympathy so much that they would make up something like this? Does that make any sense to you? No, I didn’t think so. Anyone who can say something like that has clearly never woken up in the morning feeling internally paralysed and unable to function. You’re probably thinking “unable to function? Just get up and get moving”. I’m no doctor and so I will not get technical with this post. But these images speak volumes.

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Do not make someone’s life unbearable because you do not know. Do not directly or indirectly contribute to the growing rate of suicide (both attempted and successful). Ignorance is not an excuse.  Educate yourself. Today’s world is flowing with endless resources. Let’s educate ourselves and create a better world. It begins with you and me. And it begins right now.

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How to love someone with depression and/or anxiety.

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1. Educate yourself.
The internet is littred with millions of articles about mental health, depression and related topics. Some of these said articles are testimonials of people who live with these conditions every day. This really is the first step. You can’t help until you understand. You can’t love, can’t support and certainly can’t connect before you understand. So get to know everything you can about what your friend/significant other/sibling is dealing with. When you understand, everything else will be a little easier.

2. Be kind, always.
No matter what we’re feeling, kindness is something humanity can never have too much of. Sometimes it might feel like your significant other is shutting you out, or that your efforts are futile. But no matter the situation, BE KIND. We all have off days. But a depressed person will have way more of these than you do. Understand this, and do not make it worse for them.

3. Re-affirm your support as much as you can.
The truth is, you’ll never fully understand. The truth also is that even the world’s best psychiatrists will never fully understand -and they’re the experts. That being said, more than anything, your depressed friend/significant other needs to know that you’ll always stand with or by them no matter what. So even when you don’t understand; even when whatever they’re going through makes absolutely no sense to you, remind them that you’re there through it all; that they don’t have to do it alone. And prove it. Again. And Again. And again.

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4. Pay attention, and LISTEN.
Every single one of us gives off signals every minute of every day. Even when we’re not communicating, we’re communicating. A good example of this is when we say we’re “fine”. Sometimes we are not fine when we say we are. And anyone who cares to will pick up on this.

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Generally speaking, when you pay attention, you’re able to hear the things people don’t say just as clearly as you do the things they say. So pay attention! We’re losing too many people to not paying enough attention. The media is filled with reports of seemingly happy people whose suicides shocked the world because they suffered in silence. Now I’m pretty sure if someone had paid attention, they would have picked up on something. Like I said, we’re always communicating, even when we’re not. It could be through our body language, our interaction with others, our speech, tone of voice, our behaviour, lifestyle choices -something. So pay attention. Your friend/significant other should never be made to feel like talking about their pain is pointless.

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5. Understand that they do not choose to be that way.
Repeat after me. Depression is not a choice. Anxiety is not a choice. No one ever chooses to exist in a state of constant mental turmoil. That just makes no sense at all. They can’t just “get over it” and they will not magically “be fine”. We do not tell cancer patients to get over it or that they’ll be fine. Depression is just as serious, even if we can’t see it. So remind yourself constantly that if they could, they wouldn’t be this way. 

6. Take care of yourself.
Do not neglect yourself. Loving someone who’s depressed can be exhausting and sometimes, you might host feelings of guilt and/or exasperation over the fact that you can’t always make this person happy. It’s not your fault. And its not theirs either. So don’t feel guilty about being happy when they’re sad. They want happiness for you. So remember to recharge.

7. When in doubt, HUG it out.
Granted, hugs won’t magically make them well, but they’ll remind them that even when you don’t understand, you’re there. Sometimes, that’s all they need.
A lot of the time, we assume depressed people want to be left alone. And while they do sometimes need space, remember that we all need someone. No one should ever have to carry their burdens alone. Also, remember that they constantly worry about being a burden to their loved ones. They do not want to weigh you down with their issues. So it can be a struggle to get them to share their destructive thoughts with you. But that doesn’t mean you abandon them to it. Like I said, when in doubt, HUG!

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8. Do not compare your experience with theirs.
It’s almost natural for us to want to share similar experiences when people open up about rough patches. A lot of the time, though, this comes across as you minimalizing their pain. Don’t. Many times, an unjudging listening ear is all they need.

9. Break the stigma, don’t create it.
Depression is not something that should be seen as shameful and depressed people are not weak or inadequate. To the contrary, the depressed are often the kindest, most compassionate people out there. A lot of people are unable to express the weight they are carrying because they are afraid of being judged or dismissed.

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“We tell them that it is not real; to get over it. If they could, why would they tell you even when they know how they are going to be seen?”

No one should ever have to feel like this! No one should ever be made to think that they are their wounds or that their wounds make them unworthy in some way.

And finally…

10. Ask questions.
If you need to understand, ask. Ask them how they feel. Ask them where they are in their coping process; what kind of day they had. Not all days are bad days. So make them feel comfortable telling you when they have an off day -and then do something to make it easier. Offer to watch their favorite movie with them. Make them a cup of hot chocolate. Invite them along for a walk or drive. Offer to take over some of their chores. We all have little things that make us feel better on our bad days. This is the part where you ask what these little things are. They’ll come in handy.

On a bad day, depression can feel crippling. You know you need to do this and that but you can’t get yourself to move; to do anything. It’s not something that can properly be described to someone who hasn’t experienced it, but these 50 people tried.

Here’s to mental wellness and helping out wherever we can.

The Honesty Series #1

Over the last few months, I’ve been forced to dig deep into my emotional stores for all that stuff I’d packed away in those boxes labelled “Danger! Never to be opened”. I’ve had some of my most difficult conversations this year and I think I just might be a better person for it.

Earlier this evening, I unpacked the contents of a  particular box whose exact location I thought I’d forgotten. It started with a casual stroll down memory lane, one I didn’t even prompt. Yet before I knew it, we were jogging and then running all the way down the lane. The words were out before I could stop them. And just like that, there my truth was in its full glory! For a minute there, I wanted to take it all back. I thought of every possible way I could take back everything I’d just said. I felt almost naked and exposed. Almost, because there’s one little thing I left out. Perhaps another time, if it ever comes.

Anyway, as I sat there thinking about what I could possibly say to lighten the mood a little bit, my date said something that left me completely dumbfounded. In that moment, it occurred to me that the person I was talking to had no idea what had just happened. I could have said “look, that cow has two heads” and they still wouldn’t have told the difference. A wave of relief washed over me for a moment. But it passed just as quickly when I realised there was something horribly, terribly wrong with that picture.

I vaguely remember uttering a few unintelligible statements about how much I’d give to get rid of my emotions. But I was lying. My momentary lack of emotions is exactly why I was sorting through fossils in the first place.  Who am I without my emotions? Nothing. No one. That’s who.  It’s true that I’m intense. I love and hate so fiercely that even I sometimes worry for the people on the receiving end. “Somehow” has never quite been my style. Not for lack of trying, though. I just always land on the extreme end of the scale. Always.

Anyway, at the end of it all, I packed up my little box and put it on the shelf because now that the cat was out of the bag, there was no need to bury it out in the field anymore. Who knows, maybe one day it will all make sense…

Midnight musings…

And she’s back with a bang… My old friend, insomnia. I can’t remember the last time I was up this late counting sheep with absolutely no trace of sleep. I suppose I’m anxious about something even though I can’t quite put a finger on it yet. I used to love this time; after midnight when everyone has gone to sleep and it’s finally silent enough for thinking, or writing or meditating or whatever else better done in the peace and serenity of after-dark. The fear of the future is real guys! Okay, it’s more the unknown than the future, really. But the fear is real. And no matter how often things sort themselves out as we go along, the fear of what might happen next never ceases. That question “what if something goes wrong?” still lingers… Or is that just me? In a perfect world, I’d have control over all the outcomes that affect me.