• Tom Robinson

Discovering new passions to boost mental well-being

Updated: Mar 4

The news articles that I have written about this week have all covered quite intense subjects so I thought that today's post should be a little bit more light-hearted.


Now that I have so much insight into my condition, I'm acutely aware of the fluctuations in my mood. I mentioned in a post a couple of weeks ago that I was still experiencing tiredness and having to nap in the day. This has all changed this week and I'm not needing to nap at all, in fact I've not been sleeping brilliantly over night either. I think it's because I have been writing about difficult and distressing topics and over-thinking things which my non-depressed brain often seems so happy to indulge in.


Basically what's happening is I am still cycling between mood states but in a much lesser way - I'm on the log flume as opposed to the big dipper now! But I still have to be so careful and be the 'expert of myself,' immediately addressing these things as they happen. I have now resorted to dumping all my thoughts and ideas down on a piece of paper just before I go to bed; thankfully this does seem to appease my brain somewhat and I am now sleeping much better.


Sleep is the first thing to go wrong with nearly every episode of mental illness, it is just such a fundamental requirement for optimal function. When my manic phases initiate, I find my need for sleep decreases until the point where I don't sleep at all. The flip-side is then a period of depression where my daily routine consists of seventeen hours of comatosed oblivion in bed.


It's so difficult to live with, but I am now able to function effectively alongside it with the insight and tools I have at my disposal. I am the well acquainted, educated, expert of myself, something everyone needs to be when it comes to their own mental health. You need to know the symptoms of your condition inside out and then be able to identify even the most subtle changes with immediate insight and introspection.


This week I've been keeping busy with my renewed passions: walking everyday, French lessons, listening to French singer, writing, editing, and blog but there are also little things I'm noticing which I would never have been able to engage with in my depression blighted past.


Last November I made two new borders in the garden and planted Daffodils, Irises, a Rose Bush, and a little Viburnum shrub. I've been taking pleasure out of watching them grow - this is something I would never have had the mental capacity for in the past, because severe depression devours all interests in absolutely everything.


Yesterday I read a sweet article in The Independent about gardening and mental health. It was saying that people benefit so much from, not just the outside, fresh air aspect but also from the caring and nurturing side as well. I have added the article for you to read here. I've also added an interview with Monty Don about gardening and mental health which you can find on the home page.


Now that I am well enough to do things like a bit of gardening, I can see the benefits it might offer BUT and I must make this clear - this would not have helped me when severely depressed because anything involving the gaining of pleasure was completely impossible and totally denied. Seriously depressed people need to work from a completely different starting point. (If I ever have a 'voice' I can help with this in a huge way, so please share).


I am making this point because mum text me this week and said "I've been telling you for years to walk and garden" - Mum, please understand, I just couldn't do it, I couldn't access it, pleasure was denied to me! Trying to explain this to non-sufferers is so hard but I am determined to keep trying!!


On a final note - I saw a lovely image that a psychiatrist posted on LinkedIn this week with some really great quotes that we can all learn from so I'm adding that below.


Please do keep sending me any interesting mental health articles, pictures and clips, I want this blog to be as inclusive and interactive as possible!


As usual I will be having a break from writing about mental health tomorrow but will be back on Monday!


Thanks for reading!


Speak to you soon,

TR

www.dyingtostayalive.com


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