It’s often noted that telling someone who is struggling with a mental illness to ‘cheer up’ is one of the worst possible things you can say… I agree, if someone told me to ‘cheer up’ or to ‘snap out if it’ I’d most likely just crumple right there in front of them. However, it is perfectly okay to tell yourself to ‘cheer up’ when you are having a rough day or when you are stressed, but it is vitally important to not be too hard on yourself.
For me personally I think I can get a little lost in the web of my mind, if I’m having a particularly bad day there is often a time when I am able to acknowledge that I am the one who chooses whether to ‘snap out of it’ or whether to go deeper into the darkness. But, let me get this 100% clear… yes I am able to decide but it is such a horrible, tough, testing decision. AND, I don’t think any less of myself if I am not able to simply change my mood around. It’s so easy when I’m struggling to acknowledge all the possible ways that I could get out of the current impending doom of PTSD, depression, anxiety or whatever it is. But much like my ability to see a way out I also see several reasons as to why I won’t be able to ‘cheer up’ or I won’t be able to move forward at that particular moment.
However, what I will say is that as I get older and as I grow with my mental illness (health or however you address it) I am becoming more aware of the things, the situations and the darkness that I have managed to pull myself out of before. It’s my birthday tomorrow, but currently I’m trying to deal with finding somewhere new to live, sorting out a new job, finishing my Masters, starting therapy and needing to go to hospital for something else (which is completely new to me). So it’s fair to say I have several perfectly good reasons for me to not be okay, but I also have several perfectly good reasons for me to ‘cheer up.’
So this morning, after having a little cry at the seemingly huge tasks ahead of me I dragged myself to the car, drove to the hospital to have a blood test and then continued on with my huge to-do list. I know what I am capable of achieving, and I know what I cannot handle… and no matter how many times I told my friends and family this morning that I couldn’t deal with this I knew that deep down I actually could. For me I think sometimes I need to have a bit of a mini stop-and-cry-and-hate-everything moment, as it then allows me to move forward and look at things without all the built up tension and emotion.
Also, today I found myself doing loads of little things in order to forcibly cheer myself up, at the moment I am stressed and scared, and that’s making me grumpy. But I’m not actually feeling down or low, so currently forcing myself to ‘cheer up’ is one of the coping strategies that is helping me to keep my head above water.
So, to summarise… if you are ill and you are down and you are feeling awful and somebody tells you to ‘cheer up’ – ignore them, shout at them, give ’em an evil look, or just tell them where to stick it. Only you are allowed to decide how you feel, and sometimes deciding how to feel and actually feeling things are completely different anyway. It is fine to tell yourself to cheer up, sometimes you need to listen to what your mind is telling you – if your mind is telling you to ‘snap out of it’ or to ‘cheer up’ then it’s possible that your mind knows that you are able to cheer up. Give it a try, and if it doesn’t work I give you permission to eat as much birthday cake as you like.
Please please remember, though you may be dealing with a mental illness your mental illness doesn’t define you. You still have your strength and your knowledge of self, spend some time doing what makes you happy. Today I set myself several (albeit small) tasks, and achieving them has made me feel less-stressed. (As I was typing this I received a really awesome phone call that has proved that forcing myself to do things today was a worthwhile thang.)
Basically… today I pushed myself and thankfully it’s worked out well, and although I think I’ve cried enough tears to fill up a bathtub I have also proved to myself that I am actually a lot stronger than what my negative, annoying, self-hate thought patterns tend to believe.
Ten points to me.