Expectation Vs Reality

There’s a brilliant scene in 500 Days of Summer (one of my favorite films starring a person with a fringe) where the screen splits and shows the main character’s expectation of how he thought his night would go at the same time as showing the reality of what actually happened. Welcome to my life.

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Having suffered for a while with horrible things like depression and anxiety; I think when you’re going through things like this it’s hard not to hope that one day you’re just going to wake up and everything will be fixed. I’ve spent the last year thinking that my recovery would happen with a bang. That I’d just feel amazing one day. And then I’d go on feeling amazing forever and ever the end goodbye. But unfortunately I think that might only be true of people in American TV adverts for anti depressants.

I made a lot of progress earlier this year but the last month has sucked. And what’s so hard about the ‘two steps backwards’ part of recovery is that it’s all the more painful because you’ve seen a glimmer of how beautiful life will be once you’re better.

For me night times are the hardest, night time is the time when my illness takes over and tells me that resistance is futile, that I might as well give up because I’m never getting better. For me most nights look something like this.

11.00pm – Get into bed. Feel tired, lonely, confused, other sad emotions. Sleep seems like the obvious solution. Sleep or a snuggle with Catsby.

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11.30pm – Catsby not interested in snuggling. He is a teenager now and far too cool for physical affection. Sleep it is.

12.00am – Sleep not a thing that is happening so decide to watch The Good Wife as that is a lovely show with a slow soothing pace suitable for putting me to sleep.

The Next Day

12.30am – The good wife is my hero of life. She is also sad but her hair is always shiny and she seldom cries. She is like the Beyoncé of sad people. Tomorrow I will be more like the good wife and then all my problems will be fixed.

1.00am – The Good Wife is literally the best show ever. Watch another episode.

2.00am – Realise that one day I will have seen every episode of The Good Wife and will have none left.

2.05am – Start crying while imagining my life without The Good Wife.

2.10am – Realise this could possibly be the depression talking. Good Wife good but maybe not good enough to warrant tears just thinking about it being over.

2.30am – Finally fall asleep.

But then I wake up in the morning, and things look maybe a little less bad. And I realize that I must treat my illness much like the world treats Kanye West. Appreciate and acknowledge it’s existence but not give much credit to what it’s actually saying. And I try to get on with my day, and do things I know won’t make me feel worse, and try not to criticize myself too much for not getting better quicker.

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Recovery is slow. Super slow. And it’s always going to have it’s downs. But having a down means that you’ve had an up. Which is a beautiful thing. And it means you’re going to have more ups in the future. And one day one of those ups with last a bit longer, and then it will just be life. Because in the end the only choice I actually have is to keep trying to get better. And even if sometimes it feels slower than an episode of Mad Men, I know I can get there.

Have an awesome week.

Scarlett.

p.s. The cartoon of the dog is from my favourite tumblr of all time Please Stop Being Sad. 

p.p.s. Emma Mitchell a.k.a. Nicestpersonever wrote the kindest things anyone has ever written about me on her blog. I am smiling a lot. You can read it here. And you can also follow her amazingness on Twitter. 

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28 thoughts on “Expectation Vs Reality

  1. It makes me very sad to think of you being sad, because what you write is so clever and funny that it makes me laugh and feel cheerful, which doesn’t seem fair when you’re feeling sad. (A tortured explanation, for which I apologise, but I hope you get the gist of what I’m trying to say!)

    BTW: fringes are good for hiding forehead wrinkles – you’ll understand this one day.

  2. You sound lovely and are truly gifted with humour in the face of adversity. I hope you see lots of rainbows over the next few months (and forever actually) and that those dark times are behinds you very soon. But like you say small steps.
    ps can second that on fringes post 40 its mandatory

  3. Hi Scarlett, I can tell from your writing that you are obviously articulate and very bright as well as being funny. Your blogs are a joy to read. I’ve absolutely no doubt you will get through this.

  4. This was so lovely to read. I suffer anxiety so know a little of what you must feel like and I can be truly horrible. Stay strong xx

  5. “…I must treat my illness much like the world treats Kanye West” may be the best line I’ve ever read about coping with anxiety or depression. As a clinical psychologist and writer who struggles with anxiety, I’m awed by your ability to paint your experience in words and images. Comedy and (less amusingly) exercise probably help me most. My daughter often *must* reread Calvin&Hobbes for the quintillionth time before bed and I don’t believe the mental health field has come up with a better solace. Along those lines regarding book recommendations, I wish there were loads as funny and satisfying as “Lucky Jim” by Kingsley Amis. Maybe you’ll recommend some here! xxx

  6. Dearest Scarlett – your blog continues to move me to tears. Just amazing and wonderful and I am thinking of you a lot. Really sorry things have been so difficult. Recovery can be such a rocky road – I have been there and hoping you reach the end of the “yellow brick road” very soon – and I hope lots of glorious things will be waiting for you. I am kicking the shit out of mental illness this week as its mental health awareness week. All my love xx

  7. Okay, so in news today that was the greatest thing I’ve ever read. Genuinely laughed out loud twice which warranted some odd/filled with eternal hate looks from Badger. You are fantastic and can hit me whenever you want. 

    Love Jake

  8. You already know this, but it bears repeating when you’re in one of the “downs”: You are coming out of it, and generally the trend is upwards.
    I realise, looking back, that I had been pretty much fine for over a year before I really noticed the fact – at which point, I felt really amazing. It’s worth the wait, honey, stick with it!

  9. You are so amazing! I know that there is a brilliant time ahead of you. I love the Good Wife too,although last week episode very sad as no more Will so no more Will and Alicia. I know how you feel I have had times when I feel like that and nothing feels that great at 1 am. Mindy Project back on soon I hope always makes me smile.
    Take care and keep writing xx

  10. There are going to be days, possibly weeks, sometimes months when it will feel as though things aren’t moving. This thing you have is tricksy, very very clever and more cunning than an entire wood full of stoats and weasels. Even if you had climbed Everest and got a Nobel prize it will laugh in the face of these things, It’ll tell you that they don’t count for anything. It will do a dastardly Jedi mind tricks on you and it’ll do them ALL THE TIME.

    Here’s the thing: by it’s very nature it will make you want to hide and not move. When a tough day or week or month comes here are some facts that are even truer than Spandau Ballet standing in your bedroom in their flouncy shorts and massive eighties hair singing ‘True’:

    1) If you get out of bed YOU’RE ACE
    2) If you get dressed YOU’RE WINNING
    3) If you get out of the house MEDALS, BUNTING AND CHEERING
    4) If you go to a cafe or write an essay or bake a cake or get on a train or see a friend MONUMENTS SHOULD BE BUILT IN YOUR HONOUR
    5) If you don’t do any of 1-4 then it DOESN’T MATTER. You are surviving and SHOULD STILL BE ON THE NEWS FOR EXTREME BRAVERY AT FIGHTING THE BARSTOOL
    6) If you do any of 1-4 ‘IT’ will tell you that none of them count for anything. Ignoring it and telling it to eff off is the hardest thing. If 5 happens it will jeer. This is when it is at its most weaselly and awful. I have rude words for it but wont share them here.
    7) Writing down the things you HAVE done in massive illuminated writing or even sculpting it in Fimo gives it the fear. Even if this is ‘went for a wee’ or ‘didn’t cry for two hours’.
    8) On 5-ish days write down things you did in the past that were stupendous: Twit Knit auction, made a quilt, knitted Prince William, inspired me to learn to knit, made massive boobs out of cake
    9)You are making thousands laugh and cheer with this very blog. Now. Today. Stick THAT in its pipe. Make a banner of THIS.
    10) It HATES funny things and laughter. They can sometimes kick its a*se. I still have the odd dodgy day. I have Miranda DVDs on standby.
    11) I used to make one small thing a day. An earring, a v simple necklace, a posy of flowers. Tiny pom poms are ACE for this especially the ones made on forks. It’s basically a number four in about 5 minutes. WINNING. Then pom pom bunting.
    12) I like lists

    That is all for now

    Love to you. You’ll beat this. You will.

    xxxx

    1. I was going to comment, but this comment can’t be topped. I won’t try.

      Hugs and strength. I’m rooting for you. xx

  11. I always look forward to reading your blog. Love your style of writing, your honesty, your humour & your bravery in sharing your thoughts & fears.
    Lots of us have dark days, lots of us are comforted by the fact we are not alone. May little rays of golden sunbeams shine upon us all… failing that, may we all be rewarded with scrumptious cake, pretty things & lovely words & music 🙂

  12. Dear Scarlett,

    #1 – Big hugs

    #2 – I am the mother of a boy a bit like you, but now 25 and things are much better for him. It really takes a lot of time, but the good thing is that it is okay that it takes time. This is not a race. Now he has a job he loves and is off on his own. He works for a company formulating vitamins and healthy green drinks and things like that. He got very interested in that and it does seem to help him and has somehow translated into his job. I have even learned how to make a vegan, gluten free Christmas loaf (which may, of course, also be eaten when it is not Christmas) for him, but I have yet to drink one of those green drinks even though I love him loads! He would be up all night also. Be patient with yourself. It is okay.

    #3 – Extra big hugs (these are just to put in your pocket for whenever you want one)

  13. Hi Scarly .. I love reading your blog. You’re so much more than you think you are. Had no idea you’d had such a tortuous time with your back. That must have been the worst thing to live through. I wrote to you before, once, when you knitted something with an amazing expression. I don’t even knit but became interested because your blogs were always so creative and inventive. Extraordinary. Lots of love xxx

  14. Hello Scarlett, glad you are able to be back blogging. I am so glad to add you back to my bookmarks again! 🙂 Love to you.

  15. The hardest thing to do is accept a condition, whatever it may be. Depression, disability whatever. We have to reconcile ourselves with what is affecting us. It took me a good few years to do that, and I still have bad days, weeks. When pain gets too much, and sad feelings overcome me. But we will endure. You are doing everything right! Take pleasure from your books, movies, tv shows, baking, knitting, crochet. And your beautiful animals. It’s those little things that get you through. Try not to let changes in relationships (with friends etc) drag you down, which they can. I’ve learned that some ‘friends’ drift away because you can no longer do some of the things you used too. As hard as it is, these relationships just were not meant to be. You will know who you can rely upon in time. From what I know of you through twitter/Pinterest etc and from your blog, I know you are a remarkable, loving and generous of spirit girl, who has great taste in movies, books, and hobbies. You will get there Scarlett. The world would be a poorer place without you honey.x

  16. I just wanted to say your blog gets better and better. Please do keep on, as blogging well is a skill that lots of people THINK they have (but very few actually do). *goes off to cut a fringe*

  17. Scarlett I don’t normally comment on things, being a 46 year old car salesman with a heart of stone, but I am compelled to let you know that you are brilliant. You write beautifully and I was there with you while I read it. I can’t imagine your life but I want you to have more beautiful days more often. I follow your mum on twitter and I saw her post. Seems weird to comment, sorry if it is.

  18. I’ve just caught up with every post you’ve written and I wish my 18yo self could have written so well, eloquently and honestly as you. I too am a baker for sanity (have you read Marian Keyes’ “Saved By Cake”?) and it has helped more ups to come along. Some days they don’t and it gets you like a claggy cake mix you’ve forgotten to put the baking powder in but on other days they do. I hope they come more frequently for you soon.

  19. I don’t normally comment or contribute to blogs or articles but you have struck a chord very close to my heart so forgive me….
    Scarlett, I think what you are doing on your blog here is brave, brilliant and very funny too. I love your work – in both written and cake form! I’m 20 and went through a severe case of depression nearly 2 years ago, and fortunately for me there appears to be a faint light at the end of a long dark tunnel of hell!
    As a “young person” I think depression is somewhat overlooked and often alienated in our generation, and I think you are providing the voice that is so desperately needed. I won’t say “I know how you feel” because chances are I really don’t – nobody can ever imagine or begin to understand what goes on in the mind of another person going through such a hard time. But I am so thankful for your blog and your voice on such issues and I following your journey with such hope for you. I can say however, that “recovery” is not easy, neither is it immediate. It takes time, strength and a lot of tears at 2am – unfortunately I’ve been there (I happened to be crying about my struggle to find wellies in TK Maxx however).
    I just wanted to say that you’re not alone in this, I’m cheering you on on this roller coaster of good and bad days. Thank you for talking about what you are going through at the moment, you have helped me realise that I am not alone in this. I wish you the best of luck and send a massive virtual hug your way! Keep writing! xxx

  20. Your own brother has commented on a blog post you wrote. That means you win the internet.

    And he gave you permission to hit him.

    Thats a double win.

    All joking aside Scarlett you don’t know but you are stronger than you imagine. I am sure a year ago the idea of putting this “out there” would be about as alien as the idea of me going to a gym (I am a size 22). The fact that you have felt able to share what is such a personal subject is astonishing.

    And with every post you write you chip away at the taboo of depression being an off topic. And with every post you write somebody else reads it and says “thank heavens for that, it is not just me”.

    Much love Scarlett.

  21. Scarlett, if you are awake…do this now. Go to Amazon, or a less tax-dodging version should you wish, and google “Under Milk Wood-Audio-Richard Burton”. It is the ONLY CD that helped when I had nights like those and this post just brought me right on back there, some 6 or 7 years ago, which is testament to your writing skill. Go buy it, or I will buy it for you. It has a lovely, sleepy, rhythm and is still beautiful, creative literature at the same time. Gotta love the Welsh *Salutes Dylan*

  22. this is my first time reading your blog. I am at least 10 years older than you, yet completely relate to everything you are saying…and admire you for saying it. wishing you sleep and happiness. xox

  23. So very, very true, thank you for writing this and reminding me that the two steps back is temporary. I was doing so well with my anxiety, doing new things, even embracing change, then got made redundant on Monday. Wham. But, we can do this. Maybe I’ll have more time for blogging and baking 😉 Keep doing what you do xx

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