Getting Through Dark Days

Posted: January 8, 2014 in Dark days
Tags: , , , , , , ,

I’m looking at the diary of the darkest period in my life.

Page after page of negative thoughts, complaints and aggression.diary

As the months have turned into years since these dark days, I look back at this time and it seems like a dream. I remember the feelings … but that is about all. They are just a memory.
A friend reached out to me recently and asked how I got through this time. You see, it’s his turn now. He is struggling.
This article is my effort to shine some light where there is none. To make sure others can follow advice that worked for me.
But when it comes down to it, my Mother gave me the best advice. “Put one foot in front of the other,” she said.
Smart lady.
Logic
Through counselling, I looked at emotions from a logical point of view. I was asked to imagine that I firstly was a lawyer fighting for my opinion. Why I was right. Then I would list the reasons why I was entitled to feel that way. Then I would be the defence lawyer arguing why my assumptions were incorrect. Why I was not entitled to feel that way.
Writing a journal.
Writing a journal of your thoughts and feelings does two things. Firstly it allows you to get intrusive thoughts off your chest and onto paper. These thoughts often happen at inappropriate times. For example, when you are trying to sleep at night. I looked back at the diary of my worst days and looked at the times I wrote many of my posts. 2, 3, 4 and 5 AM in the morning.
Putting these thoughts down on paper allowed me to go back to sleep. Even if I was only to wake up an hour later I would still write down what I was thinking. The second reason is that in the light of day, you look back at what you have written and can balance your emotions better. You realise that feelings are transitory. They rise and fall sometimes with a mind of their own. In my darkest days I seemed to only be experiencing lows. Then occasionally I would feel slightly better and record that. This helped me realise that if I could have one good period, then I could have more.
“Don’t do the things that cause you to get upset”
I remember deciding on this. I traced why I was feeling negative and realised that sometimes the cause was something I had control over. I committed, if at all possible, to stop doing things that created negativity in my life. This is a lesson I learned that helped me pull through the darkest period. But as an unexpected benefit, I still use this mantra 10 years later. My experience of depression is behind me, but I realise that it is the small things we do on a daily basis that make a massive difference in our future.
Small seemingly insignificant habits that reap a massive return years later.
So there you go. Writing a journal, logic and not doing the things that cause you to be upset. I used these three techniques to get me through a period of time that seemed to go on forever.
One more thing. A counsellor asked me at the end of that period why I had never done anything fatalistic. To end my life. My response was that I didn’t think it was in my make up. But I suppose no one who takes that final step would say it is in their make up. One thing was that I have always wanted to leave a positive legacy as a result of my life. This intent allowed me to look into the future and see something worth working towards.

In conclusion, I remember reading about a conversation between a student and a teacher. The student asked, “How will I know if I haven’t achieved my life purpose?

The teacher responded, “If you are still alive, your life mission is still in front of you”.

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