Tag Archives: Happiness

Why ‘Depression Island’?

A 2016 update

trainers and pillsHello! Just wanted to pop in and add some notes to this post. It’s 3 years since I wrote it and since then my mental health has fluctuated and changed quite a lot. I still manage depression but trying to come off my antidepressants really increased my anxiety for a while. And a complex combination of this and the pressures of getting married led to a significant relapse into disordered eating and an exercise addiction.

These experiences have changed my perspectives, helped me move forward with my recovery and improved my relationship with my medication. I’m getting there. I intend to keep writing but my blog should more accurately be called ‘From depression, anxiety and muddled eating island’. That’s not a very snappy title though. So I’ve changed the title to ‘Writing my mind’ until I can think of something better.

And here’s what you came here for – a bit more about what the whole island thing was about in the first place.

Where the metaphor of ‘depression island’ comes from and what it means to me.

Mental trickery
http://www.flickr.com/photos/funtik/

I find that knowing and understanding how my thought processes work and what influences my mood is one of the best ways to manage my mental health.

One of the hardest elements of depression and anxiety is that it encourages types of thinking which can go on making it worse. Things like reverse motivation and discounting the future (read more about these here). For me recognising and responding to these tricks is key to recovery.

Part of what I wanted to capture was the sense that when you are unwell you can’t imagine that you will ever feel better. And not just that; you can’t imagine that anything you might do to try and improve your mood could possibly ever work.

Whenever I feel better, I feel better in a way that I couldn’t have possibly imagined when I was feeling low.

I find metaphor a helpful way of trying to get a grip on my own experiences of mental health and communicate them to others( if you’re interested, have a look at my post on metaphor, mental health and online support).

I was searching for a metaphor that might help me and others better understand this phenomenon and I came up with the idea of two islands.

The islands

It’s as if my depressed, anxious mind and my healthy mind are two totally different islands. Continue reading

Happify yourself?

Want to be happier every day? Well who doesn’t?

Personally I am interested in exploring ways of helping me manage my wellbeing as I try to cut happify front picdown on the anti depressants I have been on for the last 12 years (a process that seems to have stalled around the 20mg mark). I’ve also recently been exploring the concept of happiness and what we mean when we talk about it.

Professionally I led on the exploration and implementation of online learning within YouthNet. This means I am interested in how simple online activities can help our young users make the most of the information and expert knowledge we have available and really embed positive skills and actions in their lives. After being sent the link by a blogging friend (thanks Lauren) I decided to sign up to Happify and see what it had to offer. Continue reading

Happiness – an emotion, a mood, a goal or a way of life?

What would we describe as a ‘happy life’?

“The idea that humans can capture a mere mood – ‘happiness’ – and somehow preserve it seems absurd. As an aim for life it is not only doomed but infantile.”

Sebastian Faulks – A Possible Life

The idea of ‘happiness’ seems to have been popping up everywhere recently. The 20th March happywas the International Day of Happiness. This was established by the United Nations General Assembly who said in doing so that they were ‘conscious that the pursuit of happiness is a fundamental human goal‘.

Later that same week I attended the launch of a new information app for young people in London called WellHappy. The twitter hashtag conversation for the event was ‘what makes you #wellhappy?. In attendance at this event was CALM (Campaign Against Living Screen Shot 2013-03-26 at 18.52.32Miserably) and Mindapples (five a day for your mind) – both of whom aim to promote action against misery and towards wellbeing. One of the (very impressive) creators of WellHappy Kat McCormack ended her speech with the wish ‘that all young people would be well happy’. Her app, a directory of mental and sexual health resources in London, was described as a step in that direction. But what would any of the people there, charity representatives and young people alike, have described as a ‘happy life’?

Continue reading

Understanding mental trickery – notes from depression island…

The three tricks that a depressed mind can play on you – and how to overcome them.

An ongoing balancing act

I would describe managing depression as an ongoing balancing act. A lot of that is knowing and understanding how my thought processes work and what influences my mood.adore endure

Alas, the mind is a tricksey thing and knowing it is a complicated process. I’ve been thinking about some of those nasty mental tricks a mind prone to depression can play. In the course of trying to make sense of them I have been thinking about depression through the metaphor of inhabiting islands. But I’ll get onto that…

Tricky thing 1: The reverse motivation caused by depression

My Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) course spoke about the reverse motivation often present during depression. You can read a bit more about that session in my Mindfulness diary for Mind here – ‘How can I best take care of myself‘.

So what is reverse motivation?

Usually we want to do something and then we do it. When depressed, sometimes we have to do something in order to want to do it. The motivation comes second.  I know that sometimes I end up feeling better by making myself put one foot in front of the other and doing something I initially really do not want to do – often exercise (which I write more about here in ‘Running stops my thoughts running wild‘), visiting friends or getting to work.  However, it can be hard to persuade myself when in a very low mood.

Why? Well partly I think this is down to another sometimes quite devastating trick that a depressed mind can play. Continue reading