Mike Stuchbery💀🍷 @MikeStuchbery_ Journalist, Commentator & Historian // Various at @BylineTimes // History at @TheLocalEurope // DMs open // Sub on @Patreon: patreon.com/mikestuchbery_ 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_.


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