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A welcome pep talk. Monday October 20, 2014

Colleague (brightly): "Hi AJ!! What a great day!"
Me (mumbling): "Umm no, I had..."
Her (Cutting in): "what's the matter with your miserable face today?"
Me: "Umm you don't want to know. Its just ..."
Her (brightly cutting in again): "Too right I don't!! but you'll be turning the milk with that sour face. So chin up and smile!"
(AJ manages a weak smile - just about makes the corners of mouth rise - goes nowhere near the eyes)
Her: "Yeah, that's the ticket! Now, cup of tea?"

Woah there missy! Do you think this depression is something that's just going to go away just because you've told it to? Who do you think you are? My mood isn't just a toy! I told you last week that it was going to be a hard weekend and here we are - Monday morning (yuk!) And you're slapping me on the shoulder and telling me to cheer up - and my prize for that fake smile? A cup of tea?! Is that it? Is that the sum total of your support? When you can see how upset and sad I am?

Well actually: yes, it turned out that this was all the pep talk I needed that day.

This was a conversation I had with a colleague as I arrived at work the other week. It sounds like she's harsh but the reality is that she has put me back together more than once over the past year when this current bout of depression really kicked in.

It turned out that she was right, it was just the "mental slap" I needed at that time. I had arrived at work in a pit. I didn't feel like smiling, I felt like crying and having another wallow in the self pity swamp or at least being allowed to stare at the middle distance and mope.

But instead I got the "I know, life sucks at times - yes, I know that this is one of those times. But today staying down isn't an option - so change up and change your mood" pep talk. I thanked her for it when we met at lunchtime, and made her a cup of her favourite peppermint tea (which by the by is possibly the most yucky drink in the history of thirst!!)

So the next time, when my depression is giving me another self pity swamp wallow moment, I remember the pep talk and it brings a smile, and it helps: just enough.

A Moodscope member.

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Mary Blackhurst Hill Mon, Oct 20th 2014 @ 6:28am

Hello AJ. I love the way you flipped this post on its head in the middle! Yes, sometimes we do need people to be a bit robust with us. The directors of my company are like that: they are always there with a hug and support, but expect me to be responsible and "get on with it" as well. They take away all the drama and remove the opportunity for self pity. And no - it's not peppermint tea that is the most yeukky drink in the world; that award surely has to go to plain Chamomile tea; it tastes like wet hay!

Hopeful One Mon, Oct 20th 2014 @ 7:45am

Thanks AJ - you just reminded me that when down to avoid rumination which we depressives do almost automatically and to break the cycle with distractions .We can make our own list in order of their impact in breaking the cycle.Mine at the moment is engage in conversation,pursue a shared activity,play,listen to music,garden,go for a a quiz,memorize a poem ...

Anonymous Mon, Oct 20th 2014 @ 8:37am

Hi AJ, what a great post. I'm definitely guilty of going right down into the swamp, rumination is my forte. I will used to think people having a chin up approach was just insensitive and they didn't 'get' me, however I've realised that sometimes someone being direct with me is exactly what I need to shift my mood. Thanks for your post. Amy

Anonymous Mon, Oct 20th 2014 @ 10:04am

Doesn't this just reinforce the lay person's view that you can 'just snap out of it'.
Depression is an illness, like cancer. I've never heard of someone being able to get over Cancer by putting a smile on their face, have you?

Anonymous Mon, Oct 20th 2014 @ 10:05am

Hi AJ. Thanks for your comments but I feel compelled to add that I wish it was all as easy as that. I acknowledge that especially when we meet the "world" we indeed have to try to look cheerful. So few people really understand true depressive feelings. But a pep talk like you experienced just wouldn't work for me. It would lead to some really seriously disturbing thoughts like 'why couldn't I have worked that all out for myself?' 'I really shouldn't be here if I can't at least to look ' normal' and cause people to have to say something like that to me. I am more than likely wrong in this assumption and as you say, am quite likely at this moment in the pits of self pity. What would have worked better for me would have been a kindly hand on the shoulder and and words like " bad day, sweetheart? You've done well to come in today. Im sorry you feel bad. We'll have to try and have a laugh today together."
I guess we are all different and need different kinds of treatment. Having said all this I really do envy those for whom the pep talk really works. Thanks again for your words.

Anonymous Mon, Oct 20th 2014 @ 10:35am

Wet hay...that made me laugh! Hello Marydoll, love ratg x.

Anonymous Mon, Oct 20th 2014 @ 11:05am

I think this is a great post today- wasn't expecting that change at all- quite a surprise- and very interesting too! At first I thought "how terribly cruel of that colleague". There possibly are times when we do have to try and make an effort- and work at putting on a brave face- or we'll drag everyone down with us. I've read one needs to be among positive people to get well, so what about those always around us!?
-and actually- I feel a bit sorry to say this in reply to the above- but people with cancer or any other life threathening illness DO put on a brave face and desparetly try to live life to the full, and not let the illness beat them - once they have come to terms with their illness. I know it is incredibly hard with depression, but maybe we need to try to be a little less hard on those who work, live with us , friends etc who know us- it is hard for them too- do we pull the "depression" card out to allow us to wallow!!?
Take care all out there, and be well. There IS light at the end of the tunnel.

Anonymous Mon, Oct 20th 2014 @ 11:17am

I think AJ was just saying that on that occasion the pep talk helped - it didn't cure the problem, it just helped.

Anonymous Mon, Oct 20th 2014 @ 11:52am

AJ, I love your post!! And I think you have a talented friend who knows when you can be pulled out of yourself. Keep her close!

I don't think this is at all like saying you can snap out of depression. I would say with regard to myself that, when I didn't understand my illness as much as I do now, everything was black. Now I have learned more about my experiences of depression, I'd say everyday I live with it, everyday it's there, some days I need to chin up and show myself I can live with it and for that day I do even though it's hard. Other days swamp me and I can't rise to it. It doesn't mean you have snapped out of means you've found a way to fight back, even if only for a little while.

Depression hates happiness and AJ borrowed someone else's for a little bit...a true friend there!

p.s. I didn't say any of the above very succinctly but I'm having a haircut and the noise of the dryers is affecting my ability to think! :-) love from the room above the garage x.

Anonymous Mon, Oct 20th 2014 @ 12:00pm

I reckon chamomile is the joint yuckiest - with Lapsang. Give me builders' tea any day. :-)

Anonymous Mon, Oct 20th 2014 @ 12:07pm

You have one canny friend there AJ. I reckon that pep talk did the trick because it came from somebody who DOES understand. As you said, somebody who has put you back together before. You're really lucky to have someone like that around. Hurrah for good friends and cups of tea!

Melanie Lowndes Mon, Oct 20th 2014 @ 2:28pm

That's great AJ! thank you!!

crafty wee midden Mon, Oct 20th 2014 @ 3:48pm

Hi anonymous,
Im with you. This does not work for me.....Im very happy for those it does work for, nope, not me....and one of my most hated xpressions is "cheer up, it hasn't happened yet"...,what level of thoughtlessness/stupidity/insensitivity makes someone say that to a stranger, when they have no idea what that person is going through? I guess one advantage to being agoraphobic is that you see less people who are likely to say that.....sorry, this jst touched a nerve with me. It's getting loser to the anniversary f my Mum being killed in the fire, and I am not at my best. Alex( the crafty wee midden)

Julia Mon, Oct 20th 2014 @ 6:23pm

I think I am with you too. I am not sure I could deal with those comments on a Monday morning as well as you did A J so well done. But she is a friend as well as a colleague so maybe that is where the difference lies between your colleague and Crafty Wee Midden's stranger telling us to cheer up, it may never happen and the like..I have had colleagues like yours , well I can think of one or two cheery folk in the past with whom I have worked and tried to avoid, who are cheerful, direct and upfront with their advice. It never worked with me, in fact it made me worse because I felt so guilty that I wasn't being cheerful and thought there must be something wrong with me, a). for feeling depressed and b).for allowing it to show temporarily. But an interesting blog A J and outside the box.

Anonymous Mon, Oct 20th 2014 @ 6:25pm

Hi- from Anonymous reply 11.05.
Very succinct, great post. :-)
This was a friend and colleague who knew and understood you, AJ, well, I reckon. You are indeed fortunate. Hope you still feel fine. x
Hope the hair do is good. xx

May you all be well;
May you all find peace;

Julia Tue, Oct 21st 2014 @ 8:24am

I meant to add last evening that it sounds so horrific your poor mother dying in a fire. What a memory for you. So tragic. I do hope you will cope with the anniversary but it must be so difficult CWM and really there is no advice anyone can give you in these circumstances. Only you will know how to get through it and get through it you will...eventually. xxxx

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