“It gets better”

“It gets better.” It’s something we all hear. If we are facing a tough time at work, or if we are ill. Especially if you suffer from some kind of mental health episode and have opened up about it. In any capacity. A break-up, a falling out with a loved one. Depression. Anxiety. Doesn’t matter.

When you are in the grips of depression, hearing someone utter those words – “It gets better” – is white noise. Nothing seems like it will get better. You are staring into a black abyss and phrases like that are nothing more than stones skimming the surface.

But there is a truth to the words. It is just that the words themselves need to be changed to reduce the distance of outlook.

“Take every day as it comes.”

“It becomes more manageable.”

These things are true. But they don’t promise something in the distance. If you are suffering from mental health or if you know someone who is suffering, take into consideration that the phrase – “it gets better” – creates a scenario that cannot be imagined by a mind in the midst of depression, by a person who may not even be able to make simple decisions in the present.

Instead – take things one day at a time. And yes, gradually things do get better. Or at least easier.

One example that comes to mind is of a woman I met whilst dealing with my own issues. This woman was also a patient. When I first met her she wandered aimlessly around, muttered nonsensical statements. She did not know what day it was and talked to herself constantly. Her eyes never focused on anything. She could be confrontational and sometimes downright abusive. She would carry a bag that she would use to horde a variety of items. Letters. Socks. DVD’s. Cutlery. Anything she could get her hands on that wasn’t nailed down.

On my last few days knowing her, this woman transformed. She became coherent enough to remember conversations I had had whilst she was in the vicinity. She asked me how I was. How my weekend was. Her eyes were no longer swivelling but straight and considerate. She was no longer wandering aimlessly. She was getting back to her old self. More than anything, she looked tired.

The change was absolutely remarkable. I thought she was degrading but she proved me wrong.

It was a day-by-day process. Don’t push someone suffering from mental health. If you are suffering from mental health issues – take baby steps. Go slow. Take your time. One step and one day at a time.

Photo above – finished serving trays just after they had been sealed with wax.

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