Wednesday, August 13, 2014

100 Reasons to Smile

The actor Robin Williams (supposedly no official ruling has been made) committed suicide, Monday evening in America. It was sad to loose such an amazing actor but it has also brought Mental Illness out of the darkness.
I have always been honest on here about my battles with Anxiety because unlike some people I am
not  ashamed of consistently battling and seeking treatment for it. I was officially diagnosed with it when I was 12 at the beginning of high school, this may seem young for many people but my parents had no idea what to do and knew that if I didn't receive the correct diagnosis and treatment soon, I would continue being my own worst enemy and making both their lives and mine hell.
When I first started seeing my (amazing) doctor I was a mess and he later would tell me that he honestly didn't see me finishing year 10 and graduating high school seemed out of the question as my anxiety was so bad. I not only completed year 10 but graduated high school and went on to do a Cert. 3 in Business at TAFE, something which he honestly didn't believe I could do. Yes I had my struggles through that time including battling depression in my final year of high school but I made it.
Then when I was 18 I had to seek more help with severe anxiety attacks, I was fortunate enough that I got treatment at the right time (which I have no doubt was a God thing) as if I had left it any later it would've been almost impossible to break the cycle of the attacks. I was told that I wouldn't be able to do full time work for at least 2 years yet I was able to in under a year (yes it was only a month of temp work but it was full time and I coped really well).
I still battle with anxiety and mental illness on a regular basis and when you're unemployed you learn to be creative with how you cope. Yesterday I was at a low point and I just wanted to hit my head against the wall because I was feeling so helpless so I baked cookies instead as a distraction. The thing I have had days where I have wanted to give up and just want to end it all but I haven't. Yes at times its hard to keep going (I have been unemployed for almost a year here so I can sympathise) but one thing I have found that helps is to try and find reasons to smile. Some days its small things like a cuddle from Alfie, my sister calling me cute or reading something funny on the internet. Other days its big things like finding the perfect pair of silver hoops, getting a job interview or meeting a friend for coffee. I also plan things a few days in advance so I always have something to look forward to, I read about someone who did that so that if they were feeling suicidal they could remember that they had committed to doing something that they had to live for. I also write lists of things that suck then a list of things that don't suck the latter list always becomes the bigger one. They may seem like such trivial things but they really do help.
A while ago I entered a short story in a competition I didn't place, but it was good to write and it fits in with this post perfectly, its based slightly off the time when I was seeing my psychologist. Please let me know what you think by leaving a comment (I might post more short stories on here if I get a good response).

100 Reasons to Smile

A short story by Erin Maree

I have been told I have to find a 100 reasons to smile, ‘it will help you, I swear’ my psychologist said when I turned up for our fortnightly appointment and told her I haven’t been able to smile since my last anxiety attack 6 months ago. So here I am writing in this notebook which is meant to go everywhere with me so I can jot down each time I smile. I told her what if there is nothing to smile about and she said I have to look for the little things, the things that will mean something to me, the things that are just between me and the world.

 March 25th
Managed to get out of bed today willingly, ended up going to the garden store and buying 3 pots and 3 packets of seeds going to try and plant them and watch them grow. I managed to smile 3 times: twice at the gardening store when a little girl asked what I was doing and followed me around the store and again when I planted the seeds.

 March 26th
One of my friends dragged me out of for coffee today she insisted I couldn’t stay being unsocial forever, it was good to be social I managed to smile 5 times today maybe I am getting better?

 March 27th
I couldn’t smile today.

March 28th
Baked brownies and ate way too many but I managed to smile 3 times during the course of eating them.

 March 29th
Dug out my collection of nail polish and painted my nails with my younger cousin she asked if I was princess as I look like one, I smiled and wished I had childlike innocence like her. I managed to smile 5 times today.

 March 30th
My mood matched the sky today, grey, dark and raining. The tears wouldn’t stop falling today, silent and empty. I wonder if I will ever stop having down days?

 March 31st
I didn’t want to get out of bed today again but I did and blasted Taylor Swift and danced around the house. I smiled 3 times today though it took me forever for the first smile to happen but the other 2 followed soon after.

 April 1st
The seeds I planted are beginning to sprout, I can’t wait to see them grow more. I smiled 3 times today.

 April 2nd
My best friend came and made me get dressed up to go see a movie and have dinner, she also stayed the night and I can’t remember the last time I laughed so hard. I am thankful to have a friend who will travel 2 hours just to see me when I am going through hard times. I smiled too many times to count today and even managed to laugh.

 April 3rd
My best friend went home today, she has work tomorrow and can’t afford to stay another night. It was good to see her though and we managed to fit in a few more bouts of laughter and a brief shopping trip, I wish she didn’t live 2 hours away!

 April 4th
 spent the day locked away and only ventured out to get food. How can I have such good days then such bad days?!

April 5th
Spent the day watching funny movies, trying to laugh, I couldn’t manage a laugh but I did smile a few times.

 April 6th
I have lost count on how much I have been smiling or if it outweighs the down parts of my days but I do know it’s an improvement. Today I snuggled with my cat and read a book, and felt content for one of the first times I can remember since the anxiety attack. I see my psychologist on the 9th of April so I will see what she thinks.

 April 7th
Went shopping today and bought a dress, one of the guys in the store commented saying ‘it’s the cute girl who was in the store the other day’ that gave me a big boost of confidence and I couldn’t wipe the smile off my face.

 April 8th
Slept in today followed by a long bubble bath I felt so relaxed, I really need to do these more! I then got a text from one of my friends asking me if I wanted to head into the city for a late lunch and that one of my favourite stores was having a sale and we could check that out too. So I did that and we had a girl’s day and picked up a few bargains, she then treated me to gelato! I am so thankful to have such great friends who treat me well.

April 9th
I saw my psychologist today, I told her I doubted I had found 100 reasons to smile but I was feeling a lot better and hadn’t been having so many down days. She nodded and told me that she could tell that I was feeling much more happier and that down days are going to happen it’s just that we have to get them spread more and more apart and that’s what is happening. I told her that eventually I lost count of how many times I was smiling as it was getting too hard to keep count she simply said ‘that was the idea, I gave you the target of 100 reasons to smile so that you could look for the small things and eventually it would become a habit and you wouldn’t be able to keep track of how many times you have been smiling.’ I know I will still have down days and moments but hopefully I won’t hit rock bottom again like I did, I just have to remember to find the things in each day, the things that no one notices the things that are just between me the world, the small things which will help me smile and eventually find a 100 reasons to smile.

If for whatever reason your or a friend needs help Buzzfeed has put together a list of 16 places where you can help from click here to see them all. Remember if you or a friend is seriously committing suicide do not hesitate to call 000 if its serious.

1 comment:

Vanessa said...

Erin, what a beautiful story! Well done - it's a wonderfully authentic piece. Love the title too :)