Wednesday, 12 February 2014

On being the happiest person in the room.

I'm delighted to welcome a new contributor, Patch: I'm posting this but everything after this is written by Patch.

[Greetings. I'm Patch, a new contributor to this blog. Hope you enjoy my meaningless drivel. :)]

Often I am told that I appear incredibly happy, positive and optimistic. By often, I genuinely mean at least once a week. When I tell people that I am actually a clinically-diagnosed depressive with aspergers, anxiety and an eating disorder, the response is usually befuddlement.  “But you don't act depressed / anxious / socially awkward / etc! Surely it can't be that bad?” they exclaim, “You act happier than I do and there is nothing wrong with me!” they continue, shocked that someone with mental illness can appear to be as happy as a small child who has just discovered how to blow a raspberry. According to many of the people I converse with, having a psychiatric disorder makes me unable to feel joy, express delight or giggle with glee. They wonder what exactly my secret is. Weed? Copious amounts of alcohol? Mountains of prozac? Nope. I'm just good at finding things to be happy about.

Currently it's the fact that my Lush products arrived and they are making my flat smell absolutely delicious. It's the fact that the person who packed the products in the box wrote their name on the invoice with a love heart. It's a letter sent to me from a friend in the states. It's another friend promising to start a rock collection in my honour. It's my self stirring mug. It's the box of tissues I bought with a boat on the front. It's an email from my Geography tutor telling me not to worry that I couldn't get out of bed due to the flu because he also has it. It's my spotty duvet cover, my wind-up lego torch, my Thor figure, my replica of the ring of power, my mother sending me a picture of my dog, my hair defying gravity. It's the thought that someone has just read Harry Potter for the first time, that someone just laughed so hard they cried, that someone slipped on a banana skin and landed on their arse. The amusement of mishearing song lyrics, the fun of playing a videogame in a way that you don't normally do.  It's the little things, and finding humour in everything. I'm currently giggling because of the number of pills I have to take at the minute makes me sound like a maraca, and that is hilarious. It sucks that I need the pills, but there is a bright side.

It's a cliché for a reason, and it's not easy. Life does suck, and often I can't think of things that make me happy, but surrounding myself with things that did at one point can often be a helpful solution.

My flat is full of junk. Little knick-knacks that at one point made me smile and therefore might do it again. I have a small plastic figurine of Gandalf I bought on a whim. I have a lightsaber that doesn't light up but makes a great noise when opened to its full length. I have a box of teabags with googly eyes stuck to it – no reason, I just love googly eyes. On my worst days I will look at that box of tea, and no matter how bad I feel, how many new cuts I have on my arms, how much I want to jump into the north sea, I somehow manage to smile.

Preparing for the bad days on the good days is one of the best things you can do, and certainly one of the most useful things I have discovered in my 7 year long battle with mental illness. By planning for the worst and ensuring you have safe ways of improving your condition can save your life – it's definitely saved mine.