Finding good in every day

An important thing when it comes to mental health is how we define our “good days”. For those who do not suffer with mental illness, it is easy to assume that a “good mental health day” must be one without intrusive thoughts, destructive behaviours or solely any signs that the mental illness even exist. But for those who do suffer, we know that that simply isn’t the case.

For this reason, it is so, so easy to lose sight of the “good days” which we do have because we are so busy comparing them to what this term may mean to other people. But if we stop comparing, it is possible to discover that any day has the potential to be a “good mental health day”, so long as you look at it from the right perspective.

To give you an example, let’s look at my day.

It would be easy to tell myself that it’s been a bad day. I didn’t get done half of the things I told myself I was going to. And I definitely didn’t have a day as productive as I would when I’m actually doing really well with my recovery; but that doesn’t matter. Because some days you just have to say “fuck it, I did what I could today”, let go of all the stuff you wanted to do and instead focus on the things you did.

Today, I wore a vest top and my new mini skirt. My eating disorder told me I was far too chubby for this outfit to be appropriate and my self-confidence (or lack of) told me that my body is too scarred to have bare skin on show. I heard these thoughts and I listened. But instead of covering up and being uncomfortably warm in 20 degree weather, I ignored them and I wore what I wanted to anyway. I stepped out of my comfort zone and that made today a good day.

Today, I went for a picnic and a walk in Durham Botanic Gardens with friends. My anxiety was sky high and I fully believed I couldn’t have managed this on a normal day, let alone in a period of time where I’m without medication, but I did it anyway. I was only out for a maximum of two hours and I was so physically and emotionally drained that I required a 2 and a half hour nap when I returned home but I did it. I boosted my mood by being sociable, if only for a little while, and that made today a good day.

Today, I walked up to the laundry room in college and put on a load of washing. I haven’t brought myself to remove it from the machine yet or transfer it into a tumble dryer and I’m not even sure if I’ll manage to tonight, but in a period of time where even washing my own body and hair seems like the greatest and most unachievable chore sometimes and leaving my room feels impossible, making this step was a huge accomplishment. I did something partially productive and that made today a good day.

Today, I attempted to walk into the dining room alone for dinner. I may have left only seconds later, with only a handful of green beans on my plate and experienced a full blown panic attack but so what? Let’s not compare myself to the tens of students sat eating their meals together in complete norm and routine but instead compare myself to yesterday, and the day before, and the day before that. This was only the second time this term I’ve stepped foot in the dining room, and the first time since Christmas I’ve done so alone. And most importantly, just because it didn’t go to plan doesn’t mean I went without – it just meant that tonight I ate comfort food, in the comfort of my own room, and it most definitely doesn’t mean I can’t try again tomorrow. I attempted to take a big step for my anxiety and that made today a good day.

So, so what, if I’ve had panic attacks or self-destructive thoughts or only completed chores half way through? So what, if I have a million exams coming up which I should have been revising for today? So what, if Sunday is a day I would usually spend at work? I faced as much as I could face today. I did what I could do and I’m going to let go of the rest. In a month which may have been the most mental-illness ridden month of my life in a very long time, today I challenged myself and I got through.

Stop comparing your days to others’ to determine whether it’s been “good” or “bad” and instead relate it to your own capabilities and your own recent history because we all have different challenges we face on a daily basis. Break your own days down like I have and I can guarantee you will realise that actually, today has been a good day for you too.

Life is too short to be angry at ourselves for being human.

 

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Love and hugs,

Shann x x x

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