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Do YOU need a jolt?
As children, our parents made us do things. They were the guide that force us to respond to our chores. They had an invisible hand on our backs that "better take the rubbish out or mum will yell".
Then as Teenagers that hand slowly went away to allow for us to think for ourselves. But parents were still around and they kept giving advice or "you know you have to take the rubbish out, you're old enough to remember without me telling you".
I recall in the RAAF as a young 17 year old. We had recruit training and our corporal yelled and yelled especially when running holding our rifles high, as we dropped back he'd yell and I'd run back up to hold my position in the flight (team). It was only after that training period that I realised that no matter how hard I tried, I would never run that hard again nor get that fit again, all because I didnt have that ex Vietnam veteran yelling at me.
And so adulthood comes with more freedoms. We seek accommodation on our own and we can easily become lazy. With a lazy partner its worse still. If friends come over we can just toss our unfolded washing into our bedroom and they would be non the wiser. We can do whatever we want. No one is there to push us. It' bliss. But like all positives in life there are negatives and visa versa.
You then become mentally ill and this (in your case) makes your laziness much worse until you realise and get diagnosed. Often this leads to a messy life as the dishes stack up. You are ill and there is an excuse this time. And that's ok.
But what if we have that imaginary disciplinarian hovering over you once you start breaking away from your depressive cycle or on a day you feel good. On a day you feel good, starting with a good warm shower then fall into bed again...why? ...because you can!! There is no one guiding you, telling you that on a good day it is a rare opportunity for you to keep the break in that cycle going. No one. Just you and whatever traces there are of your person that once pushed yourself to do what you had to do.
You then need a jolt. Trouble is, in this thread I cant offer you one. I just know, through my own personal experiences, that you need one.
Life has its challenges. The problem is if you cant meet those challenges then you either fall in a heap and things get worse which contributes towards your illness or someone else takes up the slack.
Knowing you need a wake up call is half the challenge met...
Interesting thread, interesting points. Definitely understand what you're saying. You get stuck in bad habits or unhelpful behaviours, whether its mental illness, laziness, neglecting your partner, not seeking growth or challenges or getting stuck in a rut.
I've rarely had "the wake up call". I mean, ive never woken up one morning and gone "thats it, time for change". for me its always been more of a gradual realisation over a few weeks that things just aint right, and need to change.
But the real hard part is acting on that realization. Its a really hard trap to get out of, cos your mind likes to stay where it is. Its true: your brain likes being where it is, because its hard to change. It doesnt matter if your brain is really unhappy where it is, it'll still sabotage your efforts to get better.
I think the best way to beat it is to do little steps. Your brain isn't going to let your overhaul every bad habit, bad behaviour, bad coping skill in one hit in one night. its too much.
In reality you need tot each your brain new habits and for a long time those will seem like chores. In the midst of depression i've literally forced myself to go for a walk in the sun, or forced myself to get out of bed even just for 15 minutes. its exhausting so i dont expect anything more of myself than that- but i do expect that. Gradually those chores become habits, and eventually hopefully help you dig out of the hole.
I think this works for any habit that needs to be either gotten rid of or gained. For awhile it takes all your energy and concentration to either not do it (like quitting smoking) or to do it (like flossing your teeth twice a day). I've set alarms in my phone, put reminded notices up everywhere, instructed my partner to make sure i do it. And you cant let yourself off the hook- like for instance, its easy to go "well i've already eaten a bad food today, so my diets ruined for today anyway, may as well eat what i want". Or "well i had one cigarette today, i broke my streak, may as well have as many as i want and start fresh tomorrow". But one "fault" doesnt give you permission to fault again; nor should you beat yourself up over it. It happened, its done, lets try again right away. Get back on the horse straight away without regretting or looking back
Great points. Re: the eating one. I recall years ago Oprah Winfrey was dieting and she broke it one day. She told herself "well back to the diet tomorrow".
Now there's one of the richest women in the world and she has had a battle with her weight all her life.
I'm not as patience as needed with baby steps but for those that are....your points are spot on.
In my experience there are only two routes to change.
1. A life-changing experience.
This is usually a loved-one dying. Nothing like a loved-one dying of a heart attack to kick someone into gear to look after themselves; eat well and exercise. These are usually the kind of "overnight" wake-up calls where people just change. This would be because after having that experience, every thought and decision they make is affected by that experience; but this only happens and stick when that experience hits you to the core.
2. Self-driven change.
This is the realisation realisation that "something" needs to change but often without a clear direction. This is my personal experience with depression; some things are more obvious when it comes to fixing them, thus they're easier to change, but depression is such a pervasive disease that it affects all aspects of ones life. In this regard, the "jolt" is delayed reaction. I think of it like a rubber band that's been stretched but hasn't yet snapped back; the way to cause that rubber band to snap back and give you that jolt is to have goals
What is it that you want in life? What do you want to do? What would you LIKE to do? What behaviours do you want yourself to exhibit. I've found that you have to be detailed, and then you have to start small and take it one step at a time and focus on celebrating those small steps as you achieve them. But we haven't got to the "jolt" yet; the jolt comes when you acheive for first big step. Then you suddenly realise that, wow, you CAN do these things. SNAP! The rubber band snaps back and suddenly you've got that "jolt" that says you can do whatever you want, you've just got to get out there and do it.
Very well described. Thankyou
Awesome explanations and post there zailleh! Loving it! Will have to use this fancy new "mark this post as helpful" button!
i recently (well, a year ago now) embarked on a career change and just a few weeks ago finally got a job in my new career. I hated my old career probably from the day I started studying it, now I look back at it I know I was only doing that career to try to impress my family and make them proud of me. But I was also very lost, I didn't know what to do, so I just did that.
I reckon I had that many "jolts" to tell me I needed to change careers. It was all too hard though, and I didn't know what I wanted to do, and I was still out to impress my fa,ily, so I stayed... And stayed... And stayed.... For 5 years I stayed, knowing I need to get out... Depression sunk in really badly... It wasn't the kind of depression that responds to medication really because it was due to me simply hating my job and feeling trapped... My therapist pretty much kept pointing out how burnt out I was..
so I reckon I had both of what zailleh described... I had many opportunities for self-driven change, and ignored them. Lack of money, time, energy, plus growing depression, all of it stopped me from heeding the advice of the universe whcih was that I was becoming burned out and hating my job and in turn, my life.
one day I went to work and something happened... I was a nurse and that day a patient died... Now in my 5 years of nursing I'd seen many people die, this was not unusual. But that patient died with so many regrets, I know because it was me who sat at his bedside holding his hand and comforting him as he talked of all his regrets... It broke my heart, to see a person die so full of regret. I realised I didn't want to die, or to live, a life full of regrets....my severe depression crashed even further...
I went home and never went back to work. myndoctor flat out said, don't you ever go back to nursing. It's destroying you, your depression will just keep getting worse.
anywho that was my "life changing experience". Now I'm studying my Dream job, the one I've wanted for years and just got a job in the field even though my studies aren't finished. My depression lifted, and I've fully recovered. Yes therapy and medication were essential, but I always say now- it's lifestyle factors too. I needed to change my life style to beat the depression
Beltane, it's great to hear that your life has turned around now!
I haven't quiet had my jolt yet, but what I have had was the realization that something was wrong. I thought I was just struggling with stress at work until, one day, I was out with my partner and had a mild panic attack in a crowded place. I had no idea what was going on at first, I didn't realize I was panicking, I just felt all the physical symptoms, tightness in the throat, heart pounding, hot flushes, and the inability to process the meaning of the words people were saying.
Afterwards, I realized that this was not normal and I needed help. I saw a doctor the next Monday and have been going from there. I've got a ways to go, but I'm hoping that counseling, medication, and more conscious focus on doing things I enjoy will gradually lift me out of this hole.
Sounds like you're on the right track to turning your life around too zailleh, whether you've had the "jolt" or not. i mean, you've realised something is wrong and you're starting to look into how to beat it. Therapy, lifestyle changes, possibly medication. It will turn around. It might feel like right now, you cant imagine how it will be any different. I used to be like that, id had the anxiety for so long that i couldnt picture not having it. I couldnt even understand how other people did things like go to concerts, go on dates, have careers- because all those things gave me enormous anxiety attacks.
I also didnt understand my anxiety was anxiety at first- i actually convinced myself at one point that i had a brain tumour (weird health anxiety, huh), because i just couldnt believe that "anxiety" could cause such terrible physical symptoms. Was anxiety really making me nauseous and vomiting? Was it really make me feel so shaky, dizzy, faint etc?
Well yes, it was. My doctor said, no joke, "you have one of the worst cases of anxiety i've ever seen". she meant in terms of how long i'd had it for (my whole life) and how badly it affected my life (very badly).
And yet i beat it. I need medication because i also have bipolar, but my therapy is wonderfully helpful and i honestly think therapy is really really important. Theres lots of different types, so if you dont like the first person you see or what therapy they're doing, always feel free to try someone else.
I particularly loved a book called "The Happiness Trap" by Dr Russ Harris. Its based on Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, which is fast gaining popularity next to the more common Cognitive Behavioural Therapy. You can get it quite cheap as an e-book on Amazon, or just buy a real copy. I love that book so much- i have a digital copy ive read a few times, gonna go buy a physical copy tomorrow cos i love it so much. I loved the techniques that are in the second half of the book, they really really helped me, completely changed how i related to my anxiety and how i dealt with it.