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I was just suffering with 'life'. Friday July 4, 2014

I've recently finished some sessions with a counsellor. Technically he was a CBT therapist but I was lucky in that he was also a warm and compassionate human being. Even better, he treated me as exactly the same. Not as a diagnosis, or a patient that needed 'fixing'; just as me, Fiona, a fellow human being who was struggling right now.

I've never felt entirely comfortable with being labelled as having 'depression' – though I concede that my symptoms fit with modern society's classification system and that we must all fit into a neat box... Oooh, better get back in that box Fiona!

No, I've always thought that the way I have thought, felt, reacted and behaved has been a result of 'stuff' that I have experienced. That my resilience and coping strategies perhaps weren't as honed as they could be. That I wasn't doing the best job of taking care of myself. In essence then, I was just suffering with 'life'!

Sadly though life isn't a formal diagnosis is it, and no one gives us any leeway for living it. Life is full of joy and excitement; new experiences; love and friendship; pleasures a plenty. Simultaneously it's full of challenges, change and chaos; trials and tribulations. Its just not plain sailing is it, and some of us, well, we just aren't very good at sea.

So, to find someone who understood this, and accepted me, made all the difference. It wasn't like going for therapy; it was like chatting to a new friend. A friend who turned round, threw a lifeline to me flailing around in the water and said "Actually; how you're feeling? That's OK. I'm here. I'm listening".

A Moodscope member.

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Exidia Fri, Jul 4th 2014 @ 9:12am

What a brilliant post! You really struck a chord with me - that line Life isn't all plain sailing, and some of us just aren't good at sea - that's me all over. Someone once told me that to be a teacher (which I was until the "breakdown") you need an extra thick skin, and my problem was that I had one skin too few. Same thing really. I'm now learning mindfulness meditation (slowly, which is hard) and making small steps in the right direction. Wishing you all the best, from another suffering Fiona.

Julia Fri, Jul 4th 2014 @ 9:47am

Hi Fionas. I was told by my boss in academia that I needed a carapace, basically armour, in order to survive. I didn't and was forced to leave in the end. Your therapist sounds wonderful, Fiona of the lovely blog.

Anonymous Fri, Jul 4th 2014 @ 10:08am

Hi Fiona. You've just put down in words exactly how I feel most of the time. Though I don't take any pleasure knowing that you feel the way you do, I feel a little better knowing that I'm not the only one. I'm glad that you were fortunate enough to find a kind person to talk to and that it helped. Hang in there. Take comfort that you're not alone out there! Thanks for writing :-). Colette

Anonymous Fri, Jul 4th 2014 @ 4:58pm

Great post! Every day is not a sunny day. Every day is not a rainy day. This is life and, metaphorically, how we experience it. The use of the word "suffering" reminds me of the Buddhist concept "dukkha" which roughly translates to suffering yet has a meaning that is a bit more varied in a Buddhist context.

Anonymous Fri, Jul 4th 2014 @ 5:29pm

I knocked things over thrice times today ( spilling water twice, and gravy, once )
and I'M AFRAID I swore ... and retorted "stupid old Life " in exasperation !
I don't like my swearing habit - however it does help - and I live alone.

Anonymous Fri, Jul 4th 2014 @ 8:13pm

As someone who suffers badly from sea-sickness, your analogy could not have been more apt! I too was a teacher who cared deeply( sadly not so much of a "given" nowadays as the "profession" is seen more and more as a short-term"job").So my "thick skin" was not developed enough to avoid my breakdown and having to leave a vocation I loved.Thank you Fionas for helping me, 4 years on, to put things into perspective!

Mary Fri, Jul 4th 2014 @ 8:26pm

Lovely post, Fiona. Yes, we sensitive souls are maybe just not natural sailors. Great analogy. thanks.

heather Fri, Jul 4th 2014 @ 8:47pm

"Struggling right now" - yes I certainly equate with that. For a while I am sailing along quite nicely and then, out of the blue, I am struggling - no I wouldn't necessarily say "depressed" but it is depressing to find everything so difficult, or impossible. I look forward to sunny days and now they are here all I want to do after being outdoors a while is to come into a cool room and do absolutely nothing. I seem to have a string of minor ailments - are they making me feel low or is being low causing me to manifest these ailments, or magnify them ? When I am sailing along I never seem to get anything wrong with me ? Does anyone else feel this way? Probably its too late and no-one will answer but earlier my comment got gobbled up and I didn't have the energy to repeat it. Life gets tedious, don't it ?

Anonymous Fri, Jul 4th 2014 @ 10:14pm

which comes first the chicken or the egg? Yes its a difficult one, our body and mind are so closely intwined sometimes there are no answers. On the tedious days Ive found it best to go with the feelings someho3w, to try and get pleasure in the little things until that "feeling" starts to go.

heather Sat, Jul 5th 2014 @ 10:37am

Thanks Anon for replying. Love from Heather xx

Anonymous Mon, Jul 7th 2014 @ 11:13pm

Ooh Fiona, this reminded me of a quote: calm waters don't make skilled sailors. Challenges create strengths. Nice post Fi.

Anonymous Wed, Jul 9th 2014 @ 10:03am

I too am not a good sailor, I find days where I have no mental energy to think anything, im trying daily to be more positive but ...... I dont even know what to put, im in bed at the moment without the mental energy to even get up. I feel like what is the point. But lets see what riugh seas are ahead. I wish you well fiona and happiness in your life :) x

Anonymous Thu, Jul 17th 2014 @ 12:12pm

Hi Fiona, I've kept your blog post in my inbox because it struck a chord with me. Many of the Moodscope blog posts seem so defeatist and seem to suggest that depression is something that happens to you rather than being caused by 'life'. Your idea that you are not very good at sea suggests that you, or anyone, could become a better sailor. So the solution is to improve your skills rather than saying 'I have this thing called depression and I just have to live with it'.

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