There is something about writing a thing down that makes it more real. Writing something down though is only the first stage for me to acknowledge a thing. Reading what I have written out loud takes it a bit closer to reality but it seems that when I read out or write something that I know will be listened to is the first coalescing of a concept into reality.
I find it relatively easy to acknowledge to myself that I am feeling depressed. This morning was no different as I lay in bed. It is freezing outside and the heating has gone off in the house. I am under of pile of heavy blankets. I have time to scan my body and my feelings. Body scan show nothing unusual. Feeling scan show a reluctance to move. I am warm, comfy and alone in the bed. In less than 30 minutes, I need to be up and dressed ready to do some tidying. I neither want to get up or tidy. I am also pondering whether to go running. I conclued that it is too cold to jog and besides I don’t really have the time I want if I go for a longer run (at least an hour). I think it is the right decision but I know that it also means I am going to struggle to fit in a run in this afternoon. It is just how it is for me. Everything is easier first thing in the morning. Like tidying for instance.
Two weeks ago my autism support group agreed to use a WhatsApp group to tell each other how we were doing each day. The four of us all have smart phones and most of the group are always connected to the internet. Actually I am the one that doesn’t tend to be logged on since I want to control when I see messages. I did try turning off notifications but then I just missed messages full stop which led to more complications that it solved.
Anyway, I do connect to post to the group. The thing was that when I went to post something, I really struggled to find the right words. I knew I was depressed but I felt a great reluctance to post that. I eventually settled on, “finding it difficult to make decisions, feeling blue”. The thing was, I felt so much more depressed having written that. Writing depression down, however coded I put it, somehow allowed me to acknowledge its full extend. I didn’t like it. A reply came back along the lines of “sorry you’re feeling blue, what decisions are you trying to make?”. I was being engaged into a conversation. A conversation wasn’t what I needed or wanted.
When I did my counselling skills training, I learnt that it is better to acknowledge the emotion and give people the freedom to say whatever they needed to say. The idea is to form a supportive environment and not to lead them. Questions are to be avoided because generally they come from your own curiosity to find out more rather than help the person explore their issue. Eventually I learned when it was appropriate to ask the right sort of question but to start with I was taught to focus on the emotion and precise back what I heard, thereby making sure I understood correctly what was going on.
Three of us lasted until the weekend sending updates. We reviewed what had happened a couple of days ago. One of us found it to difficult to write anything. Another had been feeling suicidal and “hadn’t wanted to put that on the group”. I had had a meltdown and I guess in a way, I didn’t want to share that either. The other had just had their needs met elsewhere.
In a way I felt that those responses were appropriate for where we were as individuals. I think the group should have a way of letting off steam and letting each other know roughly how we are feeling but I don’t think we should be looking for support from the group aside from any support that comes from an acknowledgment and a bit of empathy. I think you need to be highly skilled and trained in helping others and looking after yourself, before you can support people who are suicidal or are having angry meltdowns.
I have told my group about “The Mighty” website. The site describes itself thus: “The Mighty is a digital health community created to empower and connect people facing health challenges and disabilities.”. There are over two million people subscribed and I believe it is a better place to get the support and responses many of us crave from others that are having similar experiences. And sometimes it is just nice to join in. Today people were encouraged to post about the films they watched to get them through difficult times. I chose the films that came to mind first and posted. By doing that, I also thought about what I liked about the films so I also gained a bit of self-awareness too. The level of interaction is up to you but as I am wary of getting sucked into all the posts that go on. I dip in when something catches my attention in the emails they send out.
I think it is important to acknowledge to ourselves how we are feeling but that sometimes we need to tell others too. A social website gives you that chance and for me, making a statement that others respond to makes that thing more real. I think something The Mighty can also be helpful with is trying to understand yourself. Other people share they experiences and stories and something they write might resonate with your own experience and provide a way forward to knowledge. I am even convincing myself that perhaps I should take a deeper look at the site. Hmmm.
Why not give “The Mighty” a look-see too? It could just give you the right kind of support you need.