Tuesday, 10 October 2017
World Mental Health Day 2017
Today is World Mental Health Day and it's taken me all day to decide to share the post below that I wrote a few months ago. I didn't post it back then as it didn't make sense to me why I'd share it. Now I see that it shows how all over the place I can get. The anxiety and depression I've lived with since childhood manifests in different ways. I can be fine for ages and get things done then I might go through what I'm experiencing at the moment which is a debilitating sense of failure and lack of motivation. Don't get me wrong I can still function. The boys get fed and picked up from school and the cat gets taken to the vet, but in between is a blur. I have to remind myself to eat food, make myself go for a swim and run otherwise I find my moods are too extreme. I lose my shit because someone hasn't put the bread back in the bread bin. I burst into tears in the car the other day because I heard Sam Smith's new single. It opened an old emotional wound at that moment and I couldn't stop myself. So that's why I'm sharing this now:
"You know that thing when someone asks, "how are you ?" and you say, "I'm fine." If you are British that's as far as it goes. Unless you reciprocate and ask how they are and you both nod in recognition that things are fine and move on to talking about tea or the weather or something equally important. My father in law is much more Eeyore like and when asked how he's doing will often reply, "Oh you know, hanging on by a slender thread." Now I just say, 'hanging in there Grandpa ?" to save him the trouble.
So the reason I've mentioned this is because at the moment when anyone asks how I am I'm struggling to reply convincingly. "I'm ok" is as far as I can manage and at least one of my friends has already questioned further. To be fair Jo has known me nearly 30 years so it takes some to get anything past her. A more honest summary of my state of mind right now might be, 'a bit like Brown Bear's room.' ie. untidy, messy, full of noise and scattered with random unrelated items. Frankly, I'm not doing well right now. Partly it's the long summer holiday - which I always find challenging. Mostly it's a lot of factors that are causing stress and anxiety in my life right now.
Blue Bear is joining his brother's school next week and he's very excited about it. I am too and have been trying to get back to work as both my boys will be in school during the day now. So far I've had nothing but rejection and it's really getting me down. Most of my working life I was blessed with the ability to get an interview for a job and often to get a job offer. Since becoming a Mum this skill seems to have completely vanished and I'm baffled. I was aware of the phenomenon of the 'motherhood penalty,' but I had no idea how insidious it really is. My confidence is completely shot and I find myself wondering if I'm doomed to a life of rearranging the furniture and sorting socks - which frankly could be a full time job in this house. I've got lots of lovely friends (and lovely Hubbie) supporting me with this and advising me on how to keep positive. It all helps - to a point - but each time I get a rejection it leaves me feeling despondant.
Taking on other people's stresses is something I have always done - not deliberately you understand. It's just that when someone close to me has something painful going on in their life I take it on emotionally as well. When one of my lovely friends was diagnosed with cancer I talked to her while she was undergoing treatment to help her process the emotions and practical things that were going on. We talked, we shared and we laughed. We celebrated her successful treatment by taking part in the Moonwalk three years ago. Then earlier this year she found out that she was ill again. It just seems so unfair. She is amazing and pragmatic and - at the risk of sounding like a terrible cliche - incredibly brave. I'm very lucky to know her.
When my loved ones are struggling it breaks my heart. It also breaks me physically, but it takes me ages to notice myself. I've been taking care of myself and eating well and running again so that helps. I'm not much fun to be around right now. On edge, shouty, quick to tears and completely unpredictable. I don't know what to do to make things better. I wish I could fix the things that are making me feel like this, but some things are just out of my hands."
So that's how it feels in the middle of it all. I'm not entirely sure why it happens or how to get past it, but I know it's a moment in time. Sometimes the moment goes on for a while. What I do know is that I can do this. However difficult it seems at the time I always get through it.