…think yourself happy?
I wanted to write yesterday. I’ve been doing well with book number 3 and thought I’d get one last day of full-on writing before Lovely Boyfriend arrived home from his 2-week stint offshore.
But no matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t bring myself to open up the file and start work. This next chapter of Martha’s isn’t going to be easy to write (or possibly read; I don’t know how far I’m going to go with it yet). She’s locked up in hospital, violently depressed, angry at the whole world and wondering what her life’s been about. Heavy-going stuff, I’m sure you’ll agree, and it will draw upon my worst memories of my own time in hospital.
With BPD, my emotions are susceptible to things around me. I’ll cry at movies and books, even if they’re not sad. Sometimes they’re just emphasising something that’s missing in my own life, or something I’ve just gained, and I well up.
My subconscious worry yesterday was that I’d “think” depressing thoughts and end up “feeling” depressed. So I didn’t write, but got thinking instead.
If thinking depressing thoughts leads to feeling depressed, why don’t we make more of an effort to do things the other way round? Think positive and, as a result, feel positive? That’s the basis of Behavioural Activation.
Don’t diss it until you’ve tried it. I know there are days when you literally can’t get out of bed because it’s too much effort. But instead of thinking negatively (e.g. “I couldn’t even get out of bed today. What does that say about me and the rest of my life? Is life even worth living when I can’t shower or eat?”), try to find the positive spin (e.g. “My body’s resting today so I can get on with the rest of my life tomorrow. Everyone deserves a duvet day; I’m just catching up on all the ones I didn’t take as a kid. I feel better for being here.”).
It’s not easy, coming up with coping thoughts, but I’m living proof that these sorts of techniques CAN and DO work. You just need to be willing to give it a shot. Get some help if you need; people who can say positive things about you or your situation. And, even if you end up exhausted, try getting out of your bed for half an hour and then reflect on the fact you managed that. You succeeded. Don’t focus on the 23.5 hours you spent in bed but the 0.5 hours you DIDN’T!
It sounds trite, but really the first step to feeling better is thinking yourself better. That sort of visualisation might sound all “New Age” but if it makes you feel better for even a minute out of your day, isn’t it worth it? Think positive.