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January


A Survivor. Saturday January 9, 2016

A few years ago when I was complaining, well explaining to my brother how I felt, about the fact that I had not achieved much in my life, he looked in me in the eye and said that he had always seen me as a survivor. This surprised me. Of course on one level I was a survivor as I was still around, but I suppose I interpreted the word survivor as being someone who was not merely here but had thrived against all odds. A survivor is someone who lives through a plane crash, a flood or fire, or some violent attack. Just getting through life, does that merit the word survivor?

My brother, bless him, saw me like this whereas I saw myself as a struggler, yes I was still here but not with a flourish, but with a constant one step in front of the other and with lots of effort and complaining.

It made me think. Should we all be celebrating the fact we have survived instead of listing like I tend to do all the things I wanted to achieve but never did? The academic career I never had, the award winning author I never became, the wonderful mother I wanted to be but never was: these were all visions I had of the fantasy me not the real me and were probably never attainable.

Why do we look at the things we have not done, the dreams we never fulfilled and not examine the things we have conquered, the people we have helped and the strong people we have become.

Realistically, I have survived and while I have not done anything that is noteworthy or would be considered famous. I have lived with a mental health label for over 40 years, I am still here to share my story and hopefully help others.

Everyone reading this has overcome obstacles, endured difficulties, and come through wiser and tougher.

Can we all be proud that we are survivors and tell our stories to inspire others?

What survival technique would you like to share?

Leah
A Moodscope member.


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Comments

Margaret Sat, Jan 9th 2016 @ 5:00am

I too have viewed my life to this point in terms of 'could do better' and 'not good enough' which were other people's labels as well as my own. During a counseling session for PTSD and depression I was asked if I thought I was heroic for being a caregiver to my husband for 10 years post stroke, as well as working as a nurse. I didn't. I thought I was a failure because I hadn't been able to hold all my different parts of my life together and had to finally admit that I couldn't do it all. I felt inadequate because I often could not commit to ongoing training in my work, or doing extra shifts, or take more responsibility because I felt too stressed. Rose saw me differently. She opened my eyes and gave me a new perspective. I'm not heroic, but I am a survivor and proud of it.

Leah Sat, Jan 9th 2016 @ 5:45am

Maragret, What an inspiring post. That is a such a good point that it takes others to see us in a new perspective. Caring for a husband post stroke shows you are full of compassion and patience. Thanks so much for your thoughtful reply.

Leah Sat, Jan 9th 2016 @ 5:46am

oops Margaret, sorry those gremlins changed the spelling as I pressed reply!! It is also true we also we think we can do better instead of actually seeing what we can do and are doing.

Margaret Sun, Jan 10th 2016 @ 4:34am

Thanks Leah. I nursed for 40 years until last year when I couldn't face going there any more. Nursing these days (in New Zealand anyway) is all about 'how are you adding value to the service' 'what are your deficits that need work to improve' etc. Every day I came home knowing that I had too much to do and not enough time, and there were too few times when I felt I had actually made a difference to my patients in a positive way. This erodes our sense of perspective and increases our 'not good enough' feelings - even if we know intellectually that the system sets us up to fail. Sadly I know that I'm not alone in having to work like this - I see it all around me.

jen Sat, Jan 9th 2016 @ 6:41am

Hi Margaret, I am just back from a black period and feeling up to posting. Reading your blog, I am reminded of some advice I picked up from a fellow moodscoper. He /she recommended writing down all the positive things we feel about ourselves and our achievements when we feel well. This allows reflection on these positive views when all the negative, 'failure' thoughts keep running through our heads. Sadly, when I tried it I didn't believe that these positive thoughts were a true reflection of reality. They were the thoughts of the 'me' that did not have a grasp on reality. The same happens with compliments from others. They are repelled by my negative overcoat when I feel down. Not sure how to get over this, except to keep surviving!

Leah Sat, Jan 9th 2016 @ 9:11am

Hi jen, Thanks for your helpful post. It is hard when we are down to remember how we felt when we were better, and even as you say when you see it written down it is still hard to believe you were that positive. I suppose you just keep trying and surviving.

Margaret Sun, Jan 10th 2016 @ 4:39am

Jen you are here and writing so I am sending you a "pat on the back". Sometimes surviving is the most we can do and that too deserves recognition for the strength and tenacity it takes to achieve.

Lex Sat, Jan 9th 2016 @ 7:38am

Wonderful blogpost, Leah... can't wait to hear more of people's Survival Strategies to cope as Pioneers on the Frontiers of Mental Health. You're amazing. L'xx

Leah Sat, Jan 9th 2016 @ 9:13am

Thanks Lex. I am looking forward to reading more strategies too. I appreciate your support.

Hopeful One Sat, Jan 9th 2016 @ 7:51am

Hi Leah- thanks for high lighting how our minds can be our worst enemies by discounting the positive things and achievements in our life.The survival technique I would like to share?

Not to discount the positive in anything I do or achieve despite that vocal inner critic trying to deny it.

Never to lose Hope.

Forgive or forget- to always choose one or preferably both!

To have a laugh- so here is mine today.

An elderly gent was invited to his old friends' home for dinner one evening. He was impressed by the way his buddy addressed his wife with endearing terms-calling her Honey, My Love, Darling, Sweetheart, Pumpkin, etc. The couple had been married almost 70 years, and they appeared still very clearly in love. While the wife was away in the kitchen, the man leaned over and said to his friend, "I think it's wonderful that, after all the years you've been married, you still call your wife those loving pet names." The old man hung his head. "I have to tell you the truth, he said. "I forgot her name about ten years ago."

Leah Sat, Jan 9th 2016 @ 9:16am

Thanks Hopeful One, I like your list. I think laughter is so important. I am still working on not discounting the positive and am always fighting with my inner critic.

Soulmansblue Sat, Jan 9th 2016 @ 8:32am

Hey Leah,

Excellent Blog, top draw!

Yes, we do tend to look-up and think that we could do better!
In the past I did this even after winning. I used to a lot of running and when I won I would look at my time and think I should have achieved a better time.

It's not just when we lose do we think we should or could have done better or when we are in the depths of depression!

Thinking that we could have done better is a part of life for so many. Sadly with those that suffer from mental illness it is magnified. We so often beat ourselves up because of how we think, overlooking the fact that we did the best in reality that we could.

We are our own worst enemy!
For example Leah,!the way your brother saw you as a survivor and you just saw yourself as struggling through. We always knock ourselves down a peg or two or three or four until we view ourselves as little or nothing!

We always doubt ourselves and our abilities, even when we're on top the world it is a case of I could have or should have, whether it is in doing better or in something you feel you should have done. Like helping an old lady across the road or even saying hello to someone instead of just passing them by.

Life is full of could have and should have, but we won't always get it right. We won't always achieve the ultimate in life. What we need to think on is that we did our best; that is all we can expect from ourselves or other people.

If you know that you did your best, then you cannot seriously believe that you could have or indeed should have done better. Because in reality YOU COULD NOT HAVE!

Leah Sat, Jan 9th 2016 @ 9:18am

Soulman what great post- could have been a blog! Thank you so much for your thoughtful words.Your words will help many moodscopers.

Soulmansblue Sat, Jan 9th 2016 @ 8:35am

Just a little thank you for all your support these past few days. I'm feeling better today than I have in months. I woke up today in pain as usual, but I just wanted to read today's blog and got to it.

My score today was 29% the highest I have achieved since the middle of last year. I feel much of it is down to the support and encouragement I have received from you horrible lot.

Thanks...

Again great blog Leah!

Leah Sat, Jan 9th 2016 @ 9:21am

Great to hear you are feeling better. You are also giving encouragement and support to others. Well done.

Hopeful One Sat, Jan 9th 2016 @ 9:32am

Hi Soulmansblue- so glad to read that your mood has lifted a little since you came on the site. I too used to get scores like yours when I was in that bad place. But then I said to myself that I was not giving myself credit for surviving and managing . I gave myself an extra mark for cards like strong,determined,proud,inspired, active when I felt I had done that. Try it.

Leah Sat, Jan 9th 2016 @ 9:01pm

Hopeful one, Thanks for that tip. I always struggle with cards like pride, inspired and strong. Another example of seeing things with a different perspective. I will try it too.

Mary Sat, Jan 9th 2016 @ 10:15pm

Please stay with us Soulsmansblue. You are a part of us now and so can call on us. And we love to see you - whether you are up or whether you are down.

Soulmansblue Sun, Jan 10th 2016 @ 10:05am

Thanks Mary, that is nice to hear. I've been hiding in the background watching. My first blog came under my real name in November of last year and you were all great then. I decided though if I was to continue to post that I'd use my handle 'Soulmansblue' which I have had for quite a number of years. Again thanks all and do follow Leah's tip. I myself tend to mark myself way down on those cards but I do use the graph to plot which way my mood is going. It is so easy to not realise that your mood is slowly moving up or down when you are not following it like this. You can suddenly find you've flown to high and melt your wings because you flew too close to the sun or you're falling again and suddenly find you've got to dig your way up out of the ground. So record your score each day and plot your mood and give yourself a timely warning. One tip: Take heed and keep track of your average score as it to can fall and be a warning that though your score may be higher that day that your overall mood is dropping! Even going up, which is what we want, but not too high. I'm Bipolar and I can fly beyond Jupiterr and Mars and then find I'm down dining with the Devil!

Robert Sat, Jan 9th 2016 @ 9:18am

I always see myself as a poor coper or struggler yet others come to me for support and advice. Maybe a struggler is a survivor and as you point out with you and your brother's experience it is a perspective thing. People say 'go with the flow' don't they but I read a quote somewhere 'Only the dead float downstream' and I think that may be right. To walk against the current is much more alive.

Leah Sat, Jan 9th 2016 @ 9:23am

Robert, I like the saying "to walk against the current is much more alive". Thanks for you reply as it has given me much to think about.

Robert Sat, Jan 9th 2016 @ 9:34am

You're more than welcome. Thank you for your original post which has lifted my mood this morning.

the room above the garage Sat, Jan 9th 2016 @ 9:35am

Love this quote too Robert! Definitely a submission for Quote of the Day.

Mr A non Sat, Jan 9th 2016 @ 9:36am

Leah what a superb blog and SMB what an excellent reply. In 1971 while in the final year at primary school, our class was told we were going to be taking the 11 plus(basically a test to determine who went to Grammar school and who to the local comprehensive). One girl asked the teacher if the test would be difficult. He replied "Parts of it may be, but as long as you think it through, try your hardest and do the best that you can, that will be good enough" He was a well liked and respected teacher and those words have stuck with me since then. We are ALL survivors and if you've given it you're best shot then that is good enough PS out of aclass of 14 only 1 went to grammar school

Leah Sat, Jan 9th 2016 @ 11:22am

mr a non, thanks for your reply and the great advice from your teacher. He was a wise man.

Mr A non Sat, Jan 9th 2016 @ 9:36am

Leah what a superb blog and SMB what an excellent reply. In 1971 while in the final year at primary school, our class was told we were going to be taking the 11 plus(basically a test to determine who went to Grammar school and who to the local comprehensive). One girl asked the teacher if the test would be difficult. He replied "Parts of it may be, but as long as you think it through, try your hardest and do the best that you can, that will be good enough" He was a well liked and respected teacher and those words have stuck with me since then. We are ALL survivors and if you've given it you're best shot then that is good enough PS out of aclass of 14 only 1 went to grammar school

Mr A non Sat, Jan 9th 2016 @ 9:36am

Leah what a superb blog and SMB what an excellent reply. In 1971 while in the final year at primary school, our class was told we were going to be taking the 11 plus(basically a test to determine who went to Grammar school and who to the local comprehensive). One girl asked the teacher if the test would be difficult. He replied "Parts of it may be, but as long as you think it through, try your hardest and do the best that you can, that will be good enough" He was a well liked and respected teacher and those words have stuck with me since then. We are ALL survivors and if you've given it you're best shot then that is good enough PS out of aclass of 14 only 1 went to grammar school

the room above the garage Sat, Jan 9th 2016 @ 9:37am

Hello Leah, good to read you! I adore your line of thinking...exactly this. 'Survivor' has a much better attitude and is true. Carrying around the metal coat of depression and putting one foot in front of the other can be difficult at best and words like 'survivor' is a mental shift that can make a world of difference. Love ratg x.

Leah Sat, Jan 9th 2016 @ 11:23am

Room. Thanks for your kind words.

Eva Sat, Jan 9th 2016 @ 9:56am

To my mind perspective is what life is all about, I need to keep up a good social network in order to get different perspectives it helps to keep me balanced. As well as helping me to see from different view points I find it interesting and intriguing. I also find communication to be vastly interesting the different ways people infuse and interpret communication.

A good reminder of this Leah , thank you. I remember an incidence of this at university where in a difficult time a friend told me how strong I was, I had never considered that before. I have doubted it at times, but actually think I am fairly strong on the whole. On the other hand I now have a few friends who see me as fragile, they don't tell me things as they want to protect me which I dislike, I wonder if they had come across me earlier if they would have seen me differently... Do people interpret emotional / empathy with fragility? I feel that living with this is a challenge that is tough but hopefully infuses you with inner strength. I don't mind getting upset I know it's part of the journey and it's my way of taking on some data and processing it. I don't see that as fragile...

Bear, I notice you haven't been posting, just wanted to say hi and hope you are ok.

Leah Sat, Jan 9th 2016 @ 11:26am

Eva Thanks for your insightful post. It is funny how those close to us can see us better than we can see ourselves. I like your question" do people interpret emotional empathy with fragility?" I would say many do.

Sally Sat, Jan 9th 2016 @ 10:11am

For many years I saw myself as inferior to my sister and brother ,and the boring one of the family. It went back to a comment from my uncle to my father ,where my uncle had said he hadn't found me boring ( as Dad had said I was) when I was 15. Whilst I held onto to my uncle's nice comment, the fact that my father thought I was boring hit me hard. I was scared of him and daren't be myself in front of him. Home was never an easy place to be.
After therapy in my forties I discovered I probably hadn't been boring/ characterless. It freed me, and I spent the next fifteen years "lifting" others in my teaching and caring role. I AM a survivor, the counselling really, really helped. Nobody had taught me to be kind to myself, and that "permission" alone, was truly liberating. If we can all be kind to ourselves, we can all be kind, patient and considerate of others, however different they are from ourselves. I really do believe this. It has stood me well.

Leah Sat, Jan 9th 2016 @ 11:29am

Sally, Thanks for your honesty- found that very moving about how destructive words like boring can be. I am glad you have learned to be kind to yourself and am sad that no one in your family ever taught you this. You have so much strength and I can learn a lot from that and it will inspire me.

Sally Sun, Jan 10th 2016 @ 9:36am

Thank you Leah. Xx

patricia Sat, Jan 9th 2016 @ 10:31am

Hello Leah, That was a welcome surprise from your brother, it certainly made you think, "yes I am a survivor".

Strange the book I'm reading had this quote today
"Do not waste one moment in regret, for to think feelingly of the mistakes of the past is to re-infect yourself"
Neville Goddard 1905-1974

I sometimes remember something someone has said in the past, and just thinking makes my mood drop to how I felt at the time, so try to tell myself to move on, phew not easy sometimes.

Leah Sat, Jan 9th 2016 @ 11:31am

Patricia Thanks for your reply and Neville's interesting quote that will give me a lot to think about.

LillyPet Sat, Jan 9th 2016 @ 10:39am

Hi Leah,

I can imagine that his blog will resonate with everyone on here in someway and help alot of us too.
I've recently asked for practical help to survive a very difficult situation.

Survival mode if I feel low nowadays is:
Do the basics and leave the rest till I can, I will feel better, I always do.
Look after me, (my basics), sleep, gentle excersise proper food and healthy hydration, treats and
comforts.

About 15 years ago, while driving to work in a past job, extremely stressed and depressed, I suddenly realised that in that moment I was actually safe and things were ok in my car there and then. It was a huge relief to discover what is now called mindfulness for myself and it definitely helped me to survive what was a hugely difficult time.

As a teenager I told myself "even this day will pass" and at Uni I reached out to a councellor for the first time, which again felt like catching a lifeline.

As a child I used to try to learn the journey in my head to a good family friends house, the "auntie"was the kind of sweet and lovely mummy that I wished I had. it must have been a good 20 minutes by car but I'd memorise the way, should I one day decide to go there. I never attempted it, but I guess having a plan and an option was a way of surviving.
So my ways forward have been:
1. Asking for help
2. Looking after me
3. Adjusting my thinking

Thanks for such a positive way of looking back at how I've come through tough times! I can feel proud of how I did it and see how far I've come and it feels good! :)

Moodscope has been my rock, nuff said! :) Have a hood day peeps LPxx
(Hope you are ok Huggy Bearxx)

Leah Sat, Jan 9th 2016 @ 11:32am

Lilypet, Thanks for sharing your story and giving us ideas on how to move forward. Your posts and blogs help us as you are always honest and practical.

Holly Sat, Jan 9th 2016 @ 10:51am

I was sexually abused when I was 9, but have only recently started to come to terms with it (I'm now 23). At the same time, from 2007 until 2013, my dad had Alzheimer's. Sometimes, I think I am a survivor, just because I lived through these events, basically just surviving. Only doing what was necessary. And then at the same time, I hate 'just surviving' because I feel like I have missed out on a lot. But I think it would definitely be a good idea to take stock of what we have done, rather than what we have not. Thanks for this inspiring blog post :)

Leah Sat, Jan 9th 2016 @ 11:35am

Holly Thank you for sharing. It makes me sad what you had to endure. I know what you mean by just surviving but that is a start and hopeful it will lead to things and life improving.Thanks again as your honesty will help many moodscope members.

Frankie Sat, Jan 9th 2016 @ 11:53am

Thank-you Holly for your courage in sharing; Leah is right, your honesty will help many. I do hope that you find the help you need to deal with your traumatic past. Wishing you peace of mind and heart; Frankie

Leah Sat, Jan 9th 2016 @ 11:44am

Thanks to everyone, to those who have read and those who are thinking about posting I would love to read your stories or thoughts. It is my bedtime now but when it is your night time I will reply to any blogs that appear after this.

Gardener, re your comment on last blog about getting the short stick of the blog, I feel confused sometimes by clever blogs but this is not an exam. There is no right or wrong way to respond. Your posts bring so much joy to me and others. They are like a serial and I can't wait for the next installment. I can sometimes feel the clogs in your brain ticking over as your respond to the day's blog while also coping with your every day struggles.

Keep up the writing- I am sure you would make a shopping list sound intriguing!!


Bear, I too have missed your comments and hope you are well.

Cyndi Sat, Jan 9th 2016 @ 11:57am

I really can relate to your blog. I like looking at the perspective I AM a survivor. During my clear headed times, I know this for I have persevered through a childhood rape, abusive/neglected childhood, breast cancer (twice!), Mental Health issues with 20+ hospitalizations, having to retire from a career I loved because of Mental Health issues. I refuse to think of myself as a victim. I have developed skills to survive through AA (20+years sobriety), and DBT (Dialectic Behavioral Therapy) (which I started that journey back in 1999). I have learned to develop a live worth living. I need to keep things balanced, which is where Moodscope helps. I am very blessed with a wonderful husband, who has stuck with me through the turbulent times. I am not saying it is easy. I still have my ups and downs, but I am a resilient survivor. I work at it every day. Thanks for sharing your blog, to remind me of this.

Leah Sat, Jan 9th 2016 @ 8:31pm

Cyndi, Thank you for your inspiring story of resilience and survival. I think it is so true that we have to work at it every day and that is a powerful message.

Frankie Sat, Jan 9th 2016 @ 11:58am

Hello Leah; yes, my brother too saw me in a different light to the way I see myself and was hugely complimentary (ironically just after I had had a really violent, angry outburst re; our alcoholic sister and taken it out on him) So often we make the mistake of comparing our insides with everyone else's outsides, which is not comparing like with like! And yes, Survivor is a much better work than Struggler - love it! Frankie

Leah Sat, Jan 9th 2016 @ 8:34pm

Frankie, It is helpful when someone close to us can see what we can't see.Thanks for your reply and for your blogs about your sister as I have found them very moving and thought provoking- may even inspire another blog!!

Anonymous Sat, Jan 9th 2016 @ 10:42pm

"Comparing our insides with everyone else's outsides" -- well spotted and well put!

Sally Sun, Jan 10th 2016 @ 9:42am

I was going to comment just that too! Well put indeed!

Anonymous Sat, Jan 9th 2016 @ 1:27pm

Hi Leah.It was nice seeing your name under the blog today. I like your writing and the topics you choose to write about. A survivor is a good word. I think I am one too as I am still here, alive and often kicking despite many years of insomnia. I read (or try to avoid reading) that Insomnia is a cause of premature death but although it can be very depressing, tiring and infuriating, it doesn't appear to affect me too much physically. I saw a sleep expert once and the one thing I took away from his advice and observations was that I see the glass half full, that I don't go too OTT after a good night's sleep nor do I sink right down to the bottom when depressed. He said something like I compensated for the down times and the high times.I suppose sheer will and determination keep me going. I want to survive!Jul x

Leah Sat, Jan 9th 2016 @ 8:37pm

AnonJul, Thanks for your kind words and your honest and insightful story. Sheer will and determination are great qualities to have.

Martha Sat, Jan 9th 2016 @ 3:01pm

Leah,
You capture something very powerful when you note how one comment from someone else can have a big impact on our self-image. I was just reading something today about how our self-image is made up of how we think about ourselves and how we think others feel about us.

Unfortunately, we tend to be hardest on ourselves and that leads to a lowered self-image. When someone sees something strong and positive in us, we can not only seize the chance to improve our self-image, but also build on it.

So now when you think about your struggle....no, your survival skills....you can say, " I AM a survivor.....AND I am good at (whatever you've done well lately).

You don't even have to believe others when they tell you something positive about yourself.....just notice that THEY believe it.

If we only change the ratio of positive/negative self-talk we have, we begin to change our moods and our daily experience.

You're a survivor - and a thinker - and a writer.

Thanks!

Leah Sat, Jan 9th 2016 @ 8:40pm

Martha Thanks for your motivational comments. I really like your sentence "you don't have to believe others when they tell you something positive about yourself ... just notice they believe it." That is something I will need to work on.

Maria Sat, Jan 9th 2016 @ 4:20pm

Hi Leah - Thank you for such a thought provoking wonderful post! I try to view myself as I generally view others...in a positive fashion and not dwelling on negative aspects. It's hard sometimes but when I'm down I feel it helps to realize that I don't view others so critically so I need to stop doing it to myself.

Leah Sat, Jan 9th 2016 @ 8:42pm

Maria Thanks for your kind words. You remind me of something important- not to view myself so critically as I don't view others in the same way.Thanks again.

Mj Sat, Jan 9th 2016 @ 4:21pm

Spot Leah!
The labels the healthcare system and society places upon us are burden. But I think that the labels that we place on ourselves are even more Oppressive. When we begin to actually see ourselves as some of the strongest people on the planet with what we have survived then we can be allowed to thrive through the simple, but not easy, method of self-acceptance. It's a beautiful thing and the gaining of that victory is more precious than not having had to survive at all.

Mj Sat, Jan 9th 2016 @ 4:21pm

Spot Leah!
The labels the healthcare system and society places upon us are burden. But I think that the labels that we place on ourselves are even more Oppressive. When we begin to actually see ourselves as some of the strongest people on the planet with what we have survived then we can be allowed to thrive through the simple, but not easy, method of self-acceptance. It's a beautiful thing and the gaining of that victory is more precious than not having had to survive at all.

Leah Sat, Jan 9th 2016 @ 8:46pm

MJ Your comments are very thoughtful. It is true the labels we give ourselves are more oppressive than the ones society gives us. I have always complained about labels others give us but given little importance to the ones I have burdened myself with. "the strongest people on the planet" now wouldn't that be a great catch phrase for mental health promotion. Thanks MJ I have much to consider from your reply.

The Gardener Sat, Jan 9th 2016 @ 6:25pm

Leah - thanks for Blog and kind comments. Holly - I think surviving what you have suffered (I had a most disagreeable childhood but never abused) is utterly inexplicable - depends on 'inner strength' but cannot be defined. You can look for 'props' for the rest of your life or you can say 'I won't be beaten'. What you cannot avoid from my own experience and watching others is saying 'this can't last' 'this won't hurt me' 'I'll push it to the back of my mind', and stick to it. You can try and be selfish - I am definitely pig-headed - like a child when you used to smack 'That didn't hurt' whereupon you are tempted to give them a harder one. Bravado is a big defence arm - easily seen through by perceptive people because it covers the scars which NEVER heal - and leave you wary of human nature, unwilling to take risks, and certainly unwilling to 'give your all' in case you get hurt again. I think, under my obviously gregarious nature I am quite cold. I'v said this before, but it's very pertinent. My head-mistress, in her little leaving homily, said 'I see you as working with people'. As I was probably going through the worst period imaginable - bitter break up of parents - aunts coming down from London and yelling at me in the street for staying with my father - putting up with his gold-digging 'girl friends' sent to Coventry by the village - I said I hated people - horses and dogs or nothing. I obviously survived. Biggest survival challenge ever now - dark evenings, Mr G gets belligerent and aggressive (now verging on violent) and one has to steer through this horrendous morass. Unhappiness with two of my children has to be 'buried' worry about them, and the hurt they have caused me just has to be left to time and hope of a 'rapprochement'. Changing to actual 'survival' as in escaping danger I have found a strength which has no logical basis. Twice I've been in a situation where children were in terrible danger - my mind worked immediately on how to get them out. At three road accidents I have had to call for help because people just stood around frozen to the spot. I presume it is the famous adrenalin rush which triggers these reactions? I've had no experience whatsoever in first aid or life saving.

Leah Sat, Jan 9th 2016 @ 8:52pm

Gardener, Once again I find it hard to comment on your detailed reply. They are so rich in stories and wisdom and vulnerable honesty. That is so heartbreaking about MR G. It is sad watching a loved one turn into a complete stranger. Your words are inspiring. Sending hugs across the seas.

The Gardener Sat, Jan 9th 2016 @ 7:37pm

Add on as I was thinking of the importance of 'spirit' over and above courage in adversity. Abuse (terrible in itself) is made a huge hue and cry of nowadays (probably deservedly due to the nasty nature of the abusers) but one does think 'is it not rubbing salt in wounds'? 'Vengeance is mine' saith the Lord - but someone above said 'forgive and forget' and get on with your life? A near neighbour was a victim of appalling torture by the Gestapo - he usually wore a hat, occasionally took it off and you saw the horror. He suffered as did so many victims of concentration camps from horrendous nightmares - only their wives to help them, no counselling. Anyway, our estranged adopted daughter adored him - it was reciprocated, he had an only son. We invited him to all our parties. On the morning of one, he arrived in tears to apologise. His son had attempted suicide and he and his wife had to rush to Paris. Now, referring to several people above who feel they have never 'achieved', did this young man feel inadequate because he could not aspire to the bravery of his father? The father even appeared on 'This is your life' with Airey Neave (himself a victim of terrorism.) Survival comes down, for me, to an indomitable spirit - but who can define spirit? It does not necessarily equate with physical bravery.

Leah Sat, Jan 9th 2016 @ 8:58pm

Gardener I think as you wrote an indomitable spirit does not necessarily equate with physical bravery. you can't compare human suffering because each human experiences life in a different way.you again for sharing your thoughts.

Mary Sat, Jan 9th 2016 @ 10:42pm

Again, beautiful TG. Always you contribute something that makes me think and value life. Thank you.

Mary Sat, Jan 9th 2016 @ 10:17pm

Yes, Survivor does sound better than "failure", doesn't it? I've kept going. I have kept on creating. I am helping others cope too. To achieve all my other ambitions would just be unreasonable I suppose....

Leah Sun, Jan 10th 2016 @ 12:24am

Mary thanks for your comment. I think while we may not achieve all our ambitions I think aiming to achieve them keeps us going and surviving.

Anonymous Sat, Jan 9th 2016 @ 10:47pm

One of my tools for survival is keeping an "accomplishments" list as well as a "todo" list. The only rule is that I can't second-guess myself. ANYTHING can go there that felt like a step forward or a battle at the time. On the tough days, that list will include things most people would guffaw at: showered, e-mailed a friend. There's always more there at the end of the day than I would have expected, and it allows me to recognize the effort that's expended on those days when I'm drowning in my own mind.

Leah Sun, Jan 10th 2016 @ 12:33am

Anon,I love the idea of a 'done' or completed list. I am a compulsive list maker but they are all about things I must or want to achieve. An accomplishment list is a great idea and I will try it. I suppose I have just crossed off things as I have done them. A chance to make a new list is most appealing!!!

Amanda Mon, Jan 11th 2016 @ 2:35pm

We who struggle with mental health are ALL survivors. No such thing as 'just' a survivor, any more than one might have been 'just' a housewife if one's role was staying at home to bring up the children. And as for achievement, my take is that each day we do our best. That will of course vary by the day. Sometimes it can be a huge achievement just to get out of bed and get washed and dressed. No question of 'failing' to get out of the house, go to work, whatever. The achievement is what the achievement is - if it feels like I ran a marathon to get into my clothes, that's what it was. Focus on the things I did, not on the things I 'didn't' do. The 'done' list is one I have kept for several years now and while the 'to do' list never gets smaller, the 'done' list gets longer by the day. I make sure there's at least one thing to add to the list each day, no matter how low I feel.

Leah Tue, Jan 12th 2016 @ 12:12am

Amanda,
Thanks so much for your reply and reminding us we are all survivors and of our worth and the power of words. Am going to start my done list soon thanks for the extra prompt.

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