Episode 18. When You Have To - You Will.

Looking back over the last 4 years, I can see how much I have recovered from mental illness. This huge and difficult journey isn't made of one great step, but thousands of tiny ones. Many times practising new techniques to feel well. Many set-backs when I crumpled in a heap. Many times dredging up the courage to get up and try again.

It's important not to compare your step one with someone else's step 10 though. These comparisons will leave you feeling miserable. It's not an accurate or helpful measure.

It was a relief to finally get a diagnosis after 50 years of emotional torture. I suffer with a mood disorder. This is when I began to learn everything I could about my condition. I knew I had to do more than take medication. I knew I had to learn to understand more about how my thinking caused me to suffer. I had to change my default setting. I knew I was the only one who could do it if I wanted to minimise the symptoms that had blighted my life for decades.

I asked advice, saw a counsellor, learned techniques and read books. But the actual work to keep trying not to let painful and difficult thoughts derail me, required a huge effort from me. Even on days when the only thing I could do was open the blind when I got out of bed and close it again before bed, then so be it. It was a goal. A tiny one. My life was only comprised of tiny goals. But it was a start. It was my step one.

Some days, I perceived I'd achieved nothing. I now view these days (and I sometimes still have them,) not a step back, but a resting place. To hold this view is also an achievement. Not to be de-railed by pessimism, is huge for me because it was my previous normal default setting. My goals, tiny and irrelevant to someone else, are mine. And they've helped me to cover a lot of ground.

Metaphorical bridges were a big part of my great wellness journey. They transport me from one place to another. Optimism is a great bridge. Even for someone so beset with pessimism, I realised those feelings never last. My thoughts change and I know I will feel better again soon. So optimism bridged pessimism. It's important to realise, nothing lasts for ever. In truth, this is good thing.

We are all a big bundle of processes, we are not static entities. Everything about us is always changing. Our cells renew, our beliefs change, our thoughts and feelings change. Who we were 10 years ago isn't who we are now.

Seeking help is another of my bridges. It moves me from being trapped or stuck, to a place of easiness. Helping me to keep moving my feet forward, step by step. Seeking help is an intelligent response to a difficulty faced. If my own thinking isn't helping, I enlist someone with relevant experience. After all you wouldn't pay a plumber to operate on your appendix. If you would, you should think longer about that.

Saying I can, is another of my bridges. Telling myself I can, or I can't, either way makes me right. My mentor, poor soul, has had to kick me right up the arse this week. He reminded me when I get worried, I go into a 'death roll.' He's right, I do. Good old emotional cascade, always waiting to tumble and spill my nonsense everywhere.

As a qualified NLP coach, Neil immediately hears the words I use to describe my unrealistic subconscious beliefs. I have used words like, 'I can't,' 'it's impossible,' 'it's inaccessible to me,' 'I ran out of time.' Although frustrated by stressful events, my difficulties arose from believing my negative thoughts. I stopped being optimistic and saying 'I can.' Or in worst case scenario, I can't yet. 

Over the years, I've become better at looking at things more positively. But lately I lapsed into bad habits and forgot to do this. In the end, this was a good thing. It meant I have re-evaluated my time management, actions and boundaries. Not reinforcing my boundaries had led to me missing deadlines, so I started to get overloaded and frustrated.

My bridges were there all along, all I had to do was cross them, one step at a time. As my mentor, Neil, explains... 'Putting one foot in front of the other moves you towards your goal. You don't get to your goal in one giant leap, you get there with one step followed by the next. We may get blisters on our feet and sometimes even feel pissy, but we must keep going on anyway.

Not taking the action, we deep down know we need to, gives rise to another set of problems. Feeling unaccomplished is awful. Feeling resentful of those brave enough to have tried is painful.

Find the bridges you need, to move you from where you are now, to where you want to be. Don't give up. It feels worse not to do things than to be exhausted from trying. Remember, not achieving something first time, isn't a failure. Failure is when we stop trying. 

© Gillian Cullis 21/11/2018


  1. RTFO, works for Me, Girl.. Similar story to My last 4 Years or so :-) ..Well encapsulated :-)

    1. Hey there. Thank you for reading. I'm pleased to share my story to support others battling too. ❤️


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