Mike Stuchbery 💀🍷 @MikeStuchbery_ Journalist / Historian ★ (@BylineTimes/@TheLocalEurope)★ 'Let everything happen to you, beauty & terror, just keep going, no feeling is final.' ★ ↙️↙️↙️ / ⌛ Nov. 30, 2018 4 min read

This is not a thread about history, other than my own. I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the difference between living and surviving. Too often over the last two decades, I’ve found myself settling for surviving, when I needed to be looking for more. Let me explain. /1

I’ve talked at length about suffering from depression and anxiety, so I won’t recap that, What I will say is that my self-confidence was consistently cratering (naturally), & so was my ability to make good decisions. This is important to remember - it’s why I remained ill. /2

Throughout my twenties, safe to say I was in some abusive situations - not overtly physical, but definitely emotional. It feels weird to say that, & it took a lot of talking to get me to admit it, but It affected me in ways I couldn’t begin to understand, for a long time. /3

Between depression and emotional abuse, my confidence and belief in myself was almost zero. While I loathed myself, my responsibilities and position required that I keep up a solid front. So I did what I thought I needed to, in order to survive. /4

I retreated from social situations as much as I could. I avoided difficult interactions. I set myself the challenge on getting by with what I had. I would do anything to avoid asking for help. I thought I was showing the world how strong I was - I was very, very wrong. /5

It just made things worse. When I prioritised sleep over getting ready in the morning - I thought it helped get me through - it led to disorganization. I ate what was cheap and nearby, instead of planning - my weight yo-yoed. I never shared my feelingS until I was in meltdown. /6

Relationships crashed and burned. Somehow, I got married, but I found myself in the position of having to be a caretaker after she got very ill. My behaviour patterns meant that I found a weird satisfaction in looking after her, but *not* myself, making me sicker. /7

I remember talking to a relative one day who was worried about my welfare. She noted that I was eating two small sausages for dinner - that’s it. I remember clearly having the thought (unvocalised) ‘Yeah, but I’m surviving on that. If I can’t live on that, what use am I?’. /8

In short, I blew a fuse in 2013 and I got divorced the next year. Luckily, shortly afterwards I met @PretzelEmpress. Here I had someone who had enough self-awareness and emotional maturity to be able to start making me aware of my negative behaviours. /9

It was her that backed me to the hilt in going to therapy. She spent years working with me to identify triggers that caused my downturns - blood sugar, sleep, light levels, self-talk. Most of all, she convinced me that ‘survival’ behaviours are self-defeating and harmful. /10

Here’s a fairly minor example, but still had an impact. I would head to work in clothing that was unsuitable for the cold. I told myself I didn’t need to buy appropriate clothes - or that they weren’t a good use of money. Of course, I kept on getting quite ill. /11

It has taken years to get to the stage where I am looking after myself properly. There are still times where I have to fight to do things, spend money, maintain myself. Yet the benefits are clear - I’ve never been as settled, as content. My health has massively improved. /12

Folks - and I’m really wanting blokes to listen - I know that some of you have no belief in yourself, that you are doing only what you need to survive. Let me be clear: That is a killer. No matter what you think you’ve done, or had happen to you, you deserve more. I promise. /13

Replacing ‘survival’ behaviours with positive, healthy habits is tough, but even a few small changes can have big impacts. Hopefully, you will start to see the role such behaviours have in maintaining and worsening depression, anxiety and trauma. /14

We each owe ourselves a certain degree of care. No matter what we’ve done, or what has happened, it does not mean we’re worthless. We are all worth a little kindness. People talk about ‘self-care’ a lot, but it really is vital to live a life that isn’t utterly miserable. /15

Life can be chaotic, challenging, difficult and exhausting, but it’s not a punishment. You deserve to be happy and you deserve to be cared for - especially by yourself. I hope this helps someone, and I’m happy to talk to folks over DM any time, if they’re struggling. /FIN

You can follow @MikeStuchbery_.


Tip: mention @threader_app on a Twitter thread with the keyword “compile” to get a link to it.

Enjoy Threader? Sign up.

Threader is an independent project created by only two developers. The site gets 500,000+ visits a month and our iOS Twitter client was featured as an App of the Day by Apple. Running this space is expensive and time consuming. If you find Threader useful, please consider supporting us to make it a sustainable project.