I have come to the conclusion, after much pondering, that I may well have had my second breakdown/burnout/whatever it’s name is now.

The weird thing is…I didn’t feel it, as such. I’ve felt crushing anxiety – that much is true. About a year ago I upped my low dose antidepressant because of all the bother that was starting the academy take over. So, yes, the anxiety was there.

What wasn’t there, was that deep dark numb pit that I fell in. The one that, last time, I hadn’t known was swallowing my whole path until I was in it head first. When I think back to that time – weirdly around this time of year too (!!!!) in 2017, I can’t remember a great deal. I remember that first moment. I remember days staring out the window at the field opposite accompanied by my cat and a hot drink. I remember that I didn’t shower much and I wore my depression hat – a glittery silver woolly hat – to hide my grief.

So no, that hasn’t happened. I’ve avoided the deep dark pit. Don’t get me wrong, a few times I’ve thought I’ve seen him far up ahead but I was wrong.

Anxiety- yes. Depression – no. However, there are signs that I’ve not been quite right recently.

First, Wildcard noticed. He notices everything. Second, I’ve put weight on and my nails are short. Third, I can’t get on top of my house. You’d think with not working for 6 months I would have mastered it. Despite feeling like I’ve tried nearly every day, I’ve failed. Completely. More recently, I’ve even stopped with my facials and putting make up on and I think that was why Wildcard was so suspicious when I went to the Christmas Market spruced up like a turkey. This last month I’ve stopped using the Fabulous App. I’ve stopped drawing and painting.

There is sufficient evidence there to say that despite feeling otherwise, I’ve had some sort of mental episode. Why haven’t I felt the depression? Well, it could be my tablets working. It could be that I am generally happier (that needs some pondering). It could be because of Wildcard. He’s the only new thing in my life.

I’m avoiding stuff though. I’m plodding along, doing whatever I actually do each day and avoiding a whole heap of crap in the corner. I know I need to deal with it. I know that if I don’t, eventually that pile of crap is going to devour me. I just can’t seem to start or sustain a start.

I was notified this week that I have been writing this blog for five years. Five years! My blog is nowhere near as successful as some, and particularly some of you who read my blog. I know in part that’s because I don’t always put myself out there and join in with other blogs. Something else I stopped doing and need to start. But my near 500 followers mean a lot to me, the ones that have been with me for a long time (Anna and Susie) and those who comment and give me advice (Kay and Writerswithoutwords). Thank you to all of you. 🥰🥰

It was a shock though to realise that I started this blog because my life had been through a major life changing event- the permanent separation from my husband. I wanted a new life, a new me, and this blog was going to document that. My Cinderella style transformation.

Yeah. That hasn’t happened.

Life has hit me with a few more catastrophic events to deal with.

And yet, I am a very different person than I was five years ago. My priorities have changed. My goals. I’m still lost but in a different way.

I’ve written before about not quite knowing how I want my life to be. Not being sure how or where to start.

I think I’ve realised that there is a really good reason I haven’t done much over the last six months.

I just wasn’t ready.

Six months rest and recuperation is nothing over the course of a whole life time. So my friend wisely said.

And so, whilst I didn’t feel it the same, I acknowledge the time nonetheless.

I was not ready. But now I am.

Sleeping Beauty

I’ve dreamed about school over the past two nights. Strangely, about my primary school, not where I work. Or worked.

The first night, I dreamed I was helping out tidying, and I sneaked a look into the attic. Inside were boxes and boxes of memorabilia, items from the last. O couldn’t set foot in the attic because the floor was made of split bamboo canes so it was precarious to walk on. (Even in my dream I wondered how all the stuff was up there). I saw children’s ballet shoes and reminded myself about my little ballet bag as a child.

Last night I was back at the school again. This time, the school was renovating a classrroom/kitchen. I was helping to peel wallpaper. There was much discussion on how it should be decorated with people changing their minds. I carried on with what I had initially been asked to do. Then it was open evening and parents and small children were there. I walked around with my school ID and explained I was there to support the children.

I kept wanting to leave though as my dog was locked in my car. I had stayed longer than intended. I kept walking round the maze of the school, trying to find my handbag and keys. At one point, I was asked to help as a first aider- a woman had a hole to size of a ping-pong ball in her arm. There was no blood.

I eventually found my things and spoke to the new Headmistress of the school who congratulated me on my work stripping wallpaper. I toured th school with her, pointing out how it had been altered since my time there. I then let my dog out of the car, and walked him towards the school field where a carnival was starting. He turned into a pony, as things do in dreams, and some students of my current school petted him.

🕥

So it is 10.30am now. I’m still in bed. I haven’t walked or jogged or even had my coffee.

Yesterday after a really positive start, I slid into exhaustion. I couldn’t keep my eyes open. I waited patiently for my union rep to get in contact as he was making the first move to me leaving. He contacted me at 2.30 to say a meeting was planned for today. I then went back to sleep.

This morning, I slept through my alarm. I woke at 7.45am and hurriedly got my youngest ready for school. Once his dad had picked him up I went back to bed and to sleep. I woke again at 9.45 when Wildcard called me.

He knew something was wrong – when doesn’t he – but I didn’t want to talk as I’m not sure what is wrong myself. Only when he mentioned the meeting did tears suddenly appear.

I still haven’t got up.

My head is woozy and all I want to do is shut my eyes again. I’m thirsty and hungry and I know if I take the dog out I will feel better but I just can’t. My sadness is like a weight in my head, dragging me towards sleep. I’m tired of everything and everyone. Even Wildcard.

Will I wake from a long sleep, the worst over, beautiful and with a full and happy life ahead of me? My body clearly thinks so.

Erm….no.

Have you read my last post? Please do. You will hear me tell you that my antidepressants have really helped me stay calm today, on the third anniversary of my dad’s death.

I’ve spent the afternoon crying and anxious. So, no it hasn’t numbed me.

Then just to top it off, work called me before. They have received the Occupational Health report – I haven’t- and the big academy boss wants a meeting on Thursday. Instantly, I felt sick.

I’ve called the union guy but no response as yet. I’ve been anxious and nervous ever since.

And no, Wildcard has still not discussed his borders opening and his desperation to see me as soon as possible.

Ok, then.

Underwhelmed

You never thought that I would write that, eh?

My state of being seems to be constantly overwhelmed although I do an amazing job of ploughing through it 90% of the time.

So why the title? Allow me to explain.

Today is the three year anniversary of my dad’s death. It’s a weird one, because I actually count yesterday too. On the 6th June 2018 we made the decision to end my dad’s suffering and take him off the respirator which was prolonging his life. He was tired, bruised and had suffered for two weeks in attempt to pull through. He was staying alive for us. Fighting, but ultimately losing.

That day we said our goodbyes. And then my sisters and I stayed with him all night, watching him fall unconscious, singing to him, talking to him, loving him the best we could at his bedside. So although he died at 1am on 7th June, we lost him on the 6th.

My eyes are stinging as I write this, but there are no real tears. Maxed out antidepressants will do that to a girl. If you remember, a month ago when all the crap with work started I was reluctant to up my dose – defiantly not wanting work to be the thing that put me on max dose. Honestly, I’m still not sure I should have agreed – I’m not the walking zombie I was four years ago. But I have taken them and today I am coping.

The fact is, for the first few years, every significant date seemed like a massive hurdle, a tsunami of emotion. Today, I realise it doesn’t matter what day it is. I miss him every single day. I wish he was here every single day. So the date is irrelevant.

Except of course it isn’t. And I probably will cry at some point. But, I’m not the mess I was last year, or the year before.

And I’m convinced dad sent me a little gift last night. Late at night I received a message from a friend telling my that Wildcard’s borders are finally opening and that at present, the UK are on the list for entry.

You know I believe in the power of coincidences. And for me, at this time, being told that is a gift, a message….

Life changes. It has its ups and its downs. It ebbs and it flows. And you just have to ride the waves, keep your head above water and keep swimming.

Being honest though, the underwhelmed title is less about me and more about Wildcard.

Last night, whilst morosely but stoically remembering the pain of my dad’s passing, I was also filled with an excitement and happiness about the news. (As someone with anxiety and depression, I am a pro at feeling conflicting emotions at once.) I went on to Ryanair to see the flights and allowed myself to reach in to the now no so distant future to when I can fly to Wildcard.

So this morning, I was even more looking forward to speaking to Wildcard. I sat, drinking coffee and attempted to complete a painting I had started of me and my dad. Up until this week, I haven’t had the strength to finish it (thank you antidepressants).

So when he called and we had got the daily ‘good mornings’ and ‘how are yous’ and ‘did you sleep well?’, I waited for the moment…

‘So, do you have any news?’ At this point he is in the car driving to work. He is a little late, as always, and 19 months in, I know the exact moments of his drive to speak and when to wait whilst he manoeuvres out of a junction etc.

He hasn’t mentioned the borders. Maybe he doesn’t know yet?

So I tell him.

“Ah yes, around the 15th I think.”

So he did know. And that was that. No hasty discussion about when I was coming, not even excitement that it won’t be long until we are together.

I was stunned. There was a few moments of silence.

“What baby?” He glanced at me as he drove.

Maybe this isn’t the time. He’s driving, he is late for work. It is my Dad’s anniversary. His friend died yesterday. We are still on amber.

“Nothing, I’m ok.”

And so, today, that is what I will settle for. An underwhelming ‘ok’.

Fight

I’m exhausted but I keep going to bed.

I’m medicated but I am still sad.

I’m fighting and I’m losing.

Well, it is more like a stalemate. At times, anxiety is completely kicking my ass. But the fact that I am trying…well, that has to account for something.

So, what is my battle plan?

  • I’m getting up and following my face and make up routine. Even though I didn’t want to.
  • I’m still showering (I didn’t last time.)
  • I’m keeping in touch with people better (not hiding away yet).
  • I’m looking for jobs.
  • I’ve applied for a job.
  • I’ve planned a business
  • I’ve bought a domain name.
  • I’m doing some housework each day.
  • I’ve started a course and enrolled on another.
  • I’m trying to get out the house each day.
  • I’ve bought and am reading a self help book.
  • I’ve completed a financial review.

Anxiety’s counter attack:

  • Tight chest and panic attacks
  • Can’t sleep at night
  • Wake multiple times in the night
  • Constantly thinking about what has happened and my predicament
  • Keep finding myself in bed.
  • Don’t want to get up in the morning.
  • Doubting everything.
  • Worried – even more – about my relationship
  • Can’t trust people
  • I want to be alone
  • I feel scared – a lot.
  • My eating habits are bizarre.
  • Sometimes I just …sit.
  • I could do more on my business but I can’t.
  • I could apply for more jobs, but I can’t
  • I keep crying.
  • I probably need to take the increased medication I have been given but I haven’t yet.

And that’s it. That’s my daily battle, minute by minute.

Me, trying to make myself carry on and do things and be proactive.

Anxiety, making me tired and paranoid and crushing my chest like a vice.

My sick note runs out on Tuesday. I know I can’t go back. I know I need to use this time wisely. I just need to win the battle first.

Uncertainty

I know I have been absent for a few weeks. I began to write a few posts but my heart hasn’t been in it. What to say? How to explain?

I suspect, now being a few days in to the Easter Holiday, that I have recovered enough to feel able to write.

My anxiety is in full possession and control right now. I’ve had panic attacks before work, during work and in the evening. In fact, I feel like I am staving one off most days.

I am dreaming a lot. Not nightmares as such but the dreams always have a common theme – things going wrong, being in the wrong place, forgetting something.

I don’t know if it is the antidepressants doing their job but I don’t feel like I am depressed just very, very anxious.

But… I do have to say that at some lower points in the past few weeks, I have wondered if …well, you know.

Whilst the thought has crossed my mind a number of times recently, I wouldn’t do it.

I hate anxiety. I hate it.

I am exercising. I am trying to eat better after weeks of binge eating again. I’m writing in my planner, being thankful and celebratory. I’m quoting daily mantras. I’m trying.

Uncertainty is anxiety’s partner in crime and the pair of them have got me well and truly cornered, again.

I’m so tired. Tired of worrying. Tired of wondering. Speculating. Panicking. What if, what if, what if. Maybe, possibly, could…

Work has been hard and I got some tough news in the penultimate week of the term. I’m working hard to rectify the issue. I don’t know if it will be enough.

Uncertainty.

Every day…no, more than once a day…I am reading the news to find extensively conflicting information. Travel to resume in May. Travel to be banned until Sept. This airline has added more flights ready for June. This holiday company is laying of hundreds of workers. This MP is hopeful. This one gives a warning.

I can’t keep up. I’m constantly in a state of flux: hope and then despair.

I have booked for July. Should I book for May, just in case? What if I can go but there are no flights left? To book is to hope and I am not sure I can cope with another set back.

He loves me, he loves me not.

I’m tired of being scared, of second guessing. I’m sick of over analysing and worrying.

I don’t know of my negative mind is finding false evidence for my fears or my gut is right and I don’t want to believe it.

How can I ever know?

If I don’t go soon, will he get bored and move on? Does he really love me or do I just see what I want to see? Am I anxious and paranoid or is there truth in my fears?

Could I ever live without him?

Am I wasting my time?

Will my dreams ever come true?

Am I betraying him for doubting? If I don’t doubt am I stupid? How will I ever know? Could I walk away? Would I ever love again?

Why would he ever love me? Even more so with the ever present anxiety and fear?

How can I get this house in a better state? Who can I find to help me? How do I know they will do a good job? How do I know they are not scammers? What should I work on first? What is more important?

Is this Covid’s fault? Am I having another breakdown? Should I stop fighting and let it consume me? Do I have ASD? Should I see someone about my fears? What’s the point?

I am so, so tired of it all.

Chicken or the egg

I was wondering why no one had liked my last post. Was it that bad? Was it boring? Maybe I’m not writing enough or am I being monotonous? I then realised that I hadn’t actually 0published it. Oops.

As a frame of reference, that sums up my mental health quite succinctly at the moment. I’m worrying about everything. I’m otherthinking everything. I’m negative. And I’m forgetful and tired.

And, to make it worse, even when I try to think about things..  to plan, consider and just plain sort my head out.. I can’t. Thoughts rush in and any attempt to slow them or prioritise results in blank. Like faulty breaks – they’re off or they’re on. I need to get to the bottom of the hill but I either let myself roll down and gather speed uncontrollably or throw on the breaks and feel the strain. My mind is definitely kangaroo jumping as I attempt to deal with this. Whatever it is.

I would like to think that I have learnt enough about myself to have stopped this episode from becoming an all-out breakdown. I suspect it is my medication though that it is stopping me from descending fully into the blackness.

My doctor put me back on anxiety meds a few months ago and they have helped a little. But not enough. I probably should have listened when he suggested upping my antidepressant (I am on the lowest dose) but I felt it was more anxiety than anything else. Maybe I was wrong.

It’s well documented that the current crisis is having a negative impact on mental health and particularly for those with preexisting concerns.  Stupidly, it’s not even that I am worried about the corona itself as such.  It’s the stress and impact it is having on everything else. My job. My relationship. My kids’ education and future. My finances.

Greater awareness of my mental health state is a good thing. Last time it floored me unexpectedly. But… knowing I’m not ‘right’ means that I am doubting my own judgement. I don’t know if my ‘problems’ are causing my mental health concerns or that my mental health is creating ‘problems’. Chicken or the egg.

If I was more settled mentally, would I be able to cope better with the problems that have headed my way? Yes, probably.

Is my mental health making the current issues seem worse than they are? Possibly.

Has the current situation tipped me over? Potentially.

I really, really want to sort my head out. That’s what I want. I want order and considered thought. I don’t want irrationality and overthinking. I want to trust my judgement, but I don’t.

It’s times like these that all you want to do is sleep. Just go to bed, shut off and not think anymore. And that my friends is a big indication that all is not well, whatever the reason.

Just one

Tomorrow is my last day before I go back to work.

I have felt nothing for days about this. No anxiety or dread. No fear or sadness. No excitement or anticipation. Just, nothing.

Ironically, this confused me but my counsellor discussed this with me and I think I have thought it through now.

A thought has been developing the last few days though, like a rosebud slowly opening. I feel different. I’m not the same person anymore.

I can’t quite tell if that is because this experience has changed me or whether the fact that I battled so long with my stress and anxiety before my breakdown has meant that I couldn’t remember myself before that.

Will I be the same person on Thursday? Will I slip on my teaching persona like the suit I will wear? Or have I been tainted or altered by my experience?

Will I be better at recognising and controlling the stress or will my newly healed mental wounds be susceptible to reopening?

I don’t fear seeing anyone. I don’t particularly care what they think about me or my absence. What is important is me being able to do a good job, enjoy it, but protect my fragile sense of self.

Yes, I am mother, daughter, sister, teacher. But I don’t want to be defined by those things anymore.

I want to be defined by my own self. Those parts of me are facets on a diamond – they add to it, help create it – but do not define it. The facets help to make it special, to shine. But they do not create it. The beauty is there all the time.

So, what am going to do with my last day? I’m not sure yet. But I do know it will be what I want.

Little victories

I’m quite proud of the fact that I managed to get up at 6am again this morning. I know this may seem like a little thing but to me it’s a sign that I am mentally well and preparing for my return to work. These little signs that I have been getting better are very important: particularly in the beginning when the world was so dark.

Unfortunately, that’s where it stops for this morning. My attention has been taken by the warm glow coming from outside- snow has fallen in North West England and it’s heavy. I also have to say that the thing I was most looking forward to this morning was the chance to take my various nasal and throat sprays and good old paracetamol. I’m not feeling good with swollen glands and aching joints to add to the blocked nose and sore throat.

My son also continues to be unwell. We went to the doctors yesterday and he was put on antibiotics. For the third night in a row he came into my bed in the middle of the night and it takes some time for us both to fall back to sleep. He’s going to be very disappointed when he sees all the snow – the first substantial fall of his four years – and realise he can’t go out it.

So after taking various meds, I’ve turned the lights low, made a hot drink and opened the curtains so I can see outside. Beautiful.

I’ve got my final back to work meeting later on today. I’m not sure what else can be said but I have to go I suppose.

Wishing a good day for you all. 😊

Countdown

Eight days to go.

Today I actually felt happy. Yes, happy. I can not tell you why exactly, because I don’t actually know. Perhaps it was the Spring sunshine. Maybe it was the antidepressants doing an amazing job. Maybe it’s my new diet. But, without worrying too much about the why (as only someone with anxiety could) I decided to accept it with gratitude.

As I said in my last post, my little trip away has seemed to do my mental health the world of good. Wednesday I started a new eating plan too.

I have played around with Lifesum for a few months. I’ve previously had My Fitness Pal and have used it a few times quite happily. However I like Lifesum’s interface (is that the right word?) and so decided to pay for the subscription for a year. It’s two months payments for Slimming World /Weight Watchers – both of which I have tried and failed on multiple times- and so I thought it was worth a try. I have lost weight on both of these diets and I know they work really well for lots of people but just not me. I stop losing weight, yo-yo, and give up when I realise I am paying a £5 a week to be looked at pityingly by a group of smug slimmers.

After lots of reading up, I’ve decided to try low carb. I have PCOS and so cutting down on the sugar is a good idea amongst the other obvious health benefits. Problem is, I love carbs: a crispy jacket potato with butter and salad and spicy chicken. A decadent sandwich stuffed with turkey and rocket. Homemade lasagne. Chilli and rice.

Even now, only five days in, these still appeal to me. Other things seem to be taking a back step: no sugar cravings in the last few days. And I am not hungry all the time. And I seem to get full really quickly. And finally my, ehem, toileting habits have improved. I’ve also been sucessfully intermittent fasting on 16:8 and have managed this on all but one day. Yay me! I have not had the bloating and my stomach feels smaller but, it’s not been weigh day yet and I’ve been fooled by ‘feeling thinner’ before.

Ultimately, if this can create some healthier eating habits – no late night binging so far and I am definitely eating more veg and less sugar – then it is worth it in the long term. I’ve been having a small amount of carbs with tea but may cut these out too if I don’t lose weight. My original plan was to do this until I am back in work because I wasn’t sure I could maintain it. But I’m going to take each day as it comes. I’m monitoring my calories on Lifesum also so where I have a bad day with carbs I will make sure I keep within my calorie allowance. And if it doesn’t work? I will just keep trying until I can see those lbs coming off.

I want next week to work a little differently. I have proved to myself that I can be a good housewife when I have time to do it. I am determined never to let those feelings of failure and guilty about my home plague me again: when I have the time, I can keep on top of the housework easily. What I need to work out now, is what I can manage outside of working hours. And so I have decided that next week I can not do any general housework between the hours of 7.45am and 5pm as this approximately is my working day with the odd few later nights here and there. I need to manage my housework before/after these hours and if I can’t, I will hire a cleaner as I will have proved to myself that it impossible to meet the standards I want with the limited hours I have.

So, what am I going to do in the daytime? Well, I have a few appointments next week. I’m also going to try to get out each day, somewhere… Anywhere. And after that? I will allow myself to do any ‘extra’ housework. You know, decluttering – not every day jobs but things you save until you have more time. I’m going to sit and plan my week and make sure it is a productive as I can. 😊

Have a good week everyone.