The Hardest Thing

Wednesday November 10, 2021

Hello everyone: it’s good to be back.

A huge, HUGE thank you to Hilary, Alex and Ian for stepping in and writing the Wednesday blog for the past three weeks. I am incredibly grateful. I’m also grateful to you readers who welcomed them and commented on their blogs.

It was hard to accept those offers of help.

This depressive period lasted exactly 31 days. I went down on Thursday 7th October and came up again on Saturday 6th November.

With every episode, I think I manage it better. Those of us who live with bipolar disorder know the cycle of ups and downs will repeat. Medication can work to a greater or lesser extent, but the underlying pattern is still there. Management of this pattern is essential.

I’ve written before about my wonderful buddies. This time round, I created a WhatsApp group for them and gave them a daily update; usually a copy of my Moodscope score annotation. I shared with them my feelings and frustrations and tried to take on board their excellent advice.

This advice included:

- Cancel or postpone all business and social appointments.
- Don’t clean (and don’t feel guilty about it).
- Don’t iron (and don’t feel guilty about it).
- Get the groceries delivered and order in ready meals so you don’t have to cook. No guilt.
- Sit on the sofa and watch TV.
- When you need to sleep, sleep.
- Let me write your Moodscope blog.

Hey – what?

I wrote back, “I’ve not missed a Wednesday in seven years. I’ve written through thick and thin, mania and depression, grief and joy. I can do this!”

Then I sat back and thought, rather than just reacting. My words had come out of pride and need for control. My buddies were urging me to a place of acceptance rather than resistance, and they are wise in this. If I gave up that pride, relinquished control, and accepted the help offered, how would I feel?

So, I took a deep breath and said, “Yes.” The relief was tremendous.

Another offer of help came from my GP. My GP practice runs training for medical students, and I talk to those students about mental health. Even though I was unwell, I decided to honour that commitment. I thought it would be useful for the students to see how depression can really look, instead of just reading a list of symptoms. The organiser took one look at me and said, “I’m going to get your GP to see you after her morning appointments.” I hadn’t thought of going to see her – just enduring this episode the best I could.

When she asked, however, in gentle tones, “Shall we send you back to the psychiatrist?” I nodded mutely. I had to accept I do need more help.

Accepting help means giving up pride. We hold onto pride as if it is precious but when we let it go, that loss brings freedom in its wake.

If help is offered, say yes.

A Moodscope member.

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