My son calls this ‘bipolar weather’. He would be right. I’m sat in my sister’s front garden with the sun blazing down on the bouncy castle. I can feel the heat burning my chest. Less than half an hour ago, as we drove home, it was raining.
This morning we went to see another college. At 45 minutes, it’s quite a drive. However, it has excellent support for his SEN and more importantly, has a motorsport course from level 1 to degree level. It also has residential facilities and is tucked away in the countryside.
My son has wanted to work with cars since a little boy and has an encyclopedic knowledge of cars and parts and goodness knows what. This could be the making of him. He is positive about his future for the first time in …. well, since he was a small boy.
Last night I booked my flights to see Wildcard. For May. 😄
Whilst on our walk and talk last night, he asked me when I wanted to come, out of the blue. I gave the dates, he said OK. I said- OK you’ll think about it, or OK I can come? You can come, he replied. Despite all my angst and frustration in the past few days, a massive smile spread across my face. Any thoughts of making a point by not going rapidly disappeared. I’m going, I’m happy.
That there, is a rather indulgent coffee for 4.30pm, made with single cream and some salted caramel syrup. First, I rarely drink coffee in the afternoon as I won’t sleep. I also don’t have syrups in my coffee as they’re too sweet. And cream goes in coffee at Christmas.
As I spent 12 hours overnight in the A&E departments of two hospitals, I think I deserve it.
I originally started a post at 6.30am, sat in a treatment room of the second hospital. I’d been awake all night. My son was sleeping on the ‘bed’. Here’s what I started writing:
How dare I start to feel happy again, finally. My anxiety was slowly being controlled. I am happy at work. Things with Wildcard were steadying.
I'm sat in A&E with my son and it's 6.30am. We left for the hospital at 10.30pm. We've been awake ever since and this is our third hospital (although the first doesn't really count as they sent us away as apparently 16 years doesn't equate to a child.)
I won't say why we are here. Just like I didn't tell you when my daughter was in A&E just four days ago for an on-going illness that became acute.
There's nothing quite like thinking your child may be seriously ill. I'm going to allow myself to feel sorry for myself. However, I know thinking does nowhere near compare to knowing - my heart goes out to anyone whose children is poorly.
Yes, I was kind of bitter and angry there, wasn’t I? Angry at the world.
Since we arrived home at 10.30am (he is fine by the way), I’ve slept for a few hours, showered and started some stew:
This is comfort food at its best. It’s made from chicken – bones and all – vegetables and herbs. Full of goodness. What’s more, it’s easy to make and – more importantly- it’s what my dad used to make.
I’m being kind to myself. I hope you noticed the drops of cream on the counter (although that was a little exaggerated) and the dirty pan behind the stew (reality). I should could have got up and cleaned yesterday’s dishes. I haven’t. I made the stew, then made the coffee.
I need comfort and gentleness. The stew is all that, wrapped in a warm Dad hug. I don’t make it much, mainly because it never tastes quite like Dad’s (it is impossible to replicate) and also because it used to make me feel guilty. Dad used to make this regularly – a few times a week with different meat – and I got to the point where I was sick of eating it. I pretended to and binned it. It was one of my sad confessions on his death bed. I loved the stew, loved the fact that he cared enough to make it for me, but sometimes didn’t want it again (sorry Dad).
Now of course, I’d do anything to come home to the smell of it, Dad bustling in the kitchen.
I was angry this morning at the world. Now, I’m not. I’m still exhausted but I’m relieved that my son doesn’t have a life threatening bleed in his neck. I’m grateful for the kindness and understanding of many of the staff which cared for him, and me.
I realised before, walking into the kitchen that I had left dishevelled when I rushed him to A&E last night, that this is the saddest part of depression. You spend months, years trying to fight a mental illness. By the time that you start to recover, you then have to try to wade through the mess of things you neglected because you couldn’t cope. Recovery is hard enough, but having a mountain of unfinished business on top of the gargantuan issues that possibly caused the depression and are still there, is heartbreaking.
I’ve decided to be kind to myself.
I’m slowly, slowly working through the things I put to one side. There are many of them. They worry me. But, I’m being gentle to myself in recognising that I couldn’t manage them then, and expecting a magic wand to resolve them instantaneously now is unhelpful. It will take time and that’s ok. Slow and steady.
So, I made my stew and made my coffee and I sat down to write. I allowed myself time to write this post. The pans will be washed and the cream mopped up, when im ready. They will be done at some point. Leaving them because I’m lazy is not acceptable. Leaving them as an act of kindness to myself when I am physically and emotionally exhausted, is .
The coffee has long gone and my stew is smelling like my childhood home. I’m going to make a fire and bask in the warmth of my home and the luck that both my children and ok and with me.
I’m sat in my car. It’s a sunny but blustery autumnal day.
Yesterday, the day after I hit rock bottom, I felt a bizarre but kind of muted euphoria. In the depths of my internal crisis, when I had felt like giving up on everything, I hadn’t. I’d sought help. I’d continued to fight.
Today, I’m numb and tired. I’m not sleeping well still. And putting on my brave face is exhausting.
I feel like I am in a little cocoon, sat in this car. The sunlight is reaching me and I can hear the wind through the trees, but I feel protected I guess. Going back in the house means action or bed. I’m not in the mood to make that decision.
Last night I started to listen to Mel Robbins’ latest podcast on anxiety. Unfortunately, I was too tired to concentrate and listen to it all. What I did hear, as she interviewed a medical specialist in the subject, was again the idea that our anxiety comes from within – a built in alarm system, hardwired by our own internal experiences and – in my words – lens. To conquer anxiety, you have to reprogramme and rewire what is causing it – not the external stimulation.
If you’ve read my blog before, you’ll know that I believe strongly in the power of coincidences. They’re messages, learning.
Still. I’m not sure what to do with this information at present. I probably should go back to the doctors and reconsider medication. I don’t want to though, because the medication isn’t dealing with what is constantly causing these depressive episodes.
I’m still in the midst of trying to support my son and am waiting for school to contact me to make steps to support him.
I’ve contacted my union to discuss next steps for my resignation, now I have received my letter. I also now need to contact the agencies again to get the ball rolling, ready for November.
I’m trying my positive lens whenever Wildcard calls, and he is still calling. He’s still wearing his ring. And last night he mentioned my visit in December with me and his parents. No plan to end our relationship yet, then. 🥴 He was quiet this morning, but my positive lens shut down any over thinking on that front.
And so, here I am, again. Fighting on, one little step at a time.
I’ve taken a shower today. That’s a positive. Don’t take showers for granted: at your lowest, even taking a shower is too much.
Other than that, not a great day.
I didn’t sleep well. Minor issues with Wildcard played – and continue to play – with my head.
I woke to an email from work with a date to see Occupational Health next week. Considering I only sent in my sick note yesterday, I felt this was very quick. I sunk lower in to that dark pit and have struggled to get out of it since.
Why would anyone think I want to talk about how I feel about my work, my life, to a medical professional who is being paid by my employer? Maybe that is paranoia or narrow thinking. Either way, the thought of doing so fills me with complete and shuddering anxiety.
I’m writing a few hours after the above.
I’ve spoken to my union who have given me some reassurance about the OH appointment. I feel a little better.
I have unfortunately, had another issue with Wildcard. I don’t know what to think. My catastrophising brain thinks that maybe, these recent problems are heading for the end.
We’ve had a few challenging weeks. My negative and anxious mindset about my job have caused issues between me and him. He’s forgiven me each time but no one can be naive enough to think that is the end of it. It tips the balance just a little the wrong way.
What with that, and the more recent issues, worried he’s beginning to think I am too much. Not worth it.
I’ve got another major issue going on with my son which I haven’t mentioned yet here. It started at the weekend.
In both cases – my situation at work and with my son – cultural and language barriers are preventing me from explaining to Wildcard well, and him from understanding well.
I know what some of you are thinking – if he can’t stand by you now, then he’s not the right person etc etc.
Truth is, how long should a person have to stand by you? Why should they suffer because you are?
If he walks away, any semblance of happiness I have will go. I will implode. But, I can’t blame him. I can’t. He’s under no obligation. We are not married. Maybe, I have just become too much. I love him so much that I should not be a source of unhappiness for him. Even if it destroys what’s left of me in the process.
I’m sat in my wilderness, cold and shivering.
I’ve made myself get out of my bed.
My daughter has pointed out that I’ve done all I can in each and every situation of my life that’s causing my stress. Despite the hours in bed and my overall anxiety, I have actively tried to find solutions and help for all of them. It was a positive reminder.
It’s a slow descent. I suppose I should be grateful for that.
Maybe, maybe…I’m not yet stuck. Maybe, there is still a chance – through determination and strength – I can pull myself out.
I’m tired though. I don’t feel like I have any strength.
And so, slowly slowly I sink.
Perhaps you’re wondering how I got myself into this sinking sand, this bog, this black hole.
Truth is, unfortunately, I saw this coming. Let me explain.
I chose this path tentatively. It took many weeks of thinking, considering and angst to choose this path. And once I chose it, and realised it was not how I had been told it would be, I believed that perhaps fate had led me here. Maybe I had lessons to still learn.
Because despite my excitement and determination and fervour…this road was not the one I expected. I was prepared for the potholes and the dark and the bad bends. I just didn’t expect the whole road would be full of them.
I tried to contain my panic. I tried to be positive, brave. And then I became aware.
In the distance, almost too far ahead to see, I sensed it.
I didn’t want to believe it. I tried ignoring it. At one point, I even searched in the dark, hoping to find something to cling to…to stop me falling.
And strangely, it was whilst I was fumbling in the dark, looking for strength, that I realised it was too late. I’d already started to fall.
Everything is in slow motion now.
Occasionally, as I fall, I sense the world of destruction that lies ahead of me. I see my downfall. You’d think this would give me the stength to claw my way out. It doesn’t. The panic only makes me fall quicker.
Overwhelming is the sense of failure. I’ve clawed myself out of the depths twice now. I’ve dealt with the aftermath, spent an age cleaning myself of the remains of the darkness that cover you, even when you are stood in the light.
Resignation is not a good thing.
I see the world in 360 degrees. At times my mind frantically searched every degree, looking for answers, looking for a way out. But as I spin, I sink.
Other times I’m frozen, watching my slow descent into darkness. And that’s the worst. Part of my mind is still in the light. I can see where I am heading as I can see where I came from. This is where the fear lives.
I fear this place. I’ve dwelled in its depths before.
But I’m not in its depth yet. This is a slow descend.
Maybe, maybe…I’m not yet stuck. Maybe, there is still a chance – through determination and strength – I can pull myself out.
Sometimes my emotions come out of nowhere. Don’t get me wrong, I have a vague awareness of them. They dance about at the edge of my consciousness: teasing, hinting then disappearing temporarily with my metaphorical flick of disdain.
So when they do return, they return stronger than ever. My emotions and I may run the dance a few times before they explode into my vision, refusing to be subdued any longer.
I have known this about myself ever since my breakdown. My highly skilled counsellor made me see this – how dampening them down for so long just prolongs the inevitable .
I have learnt a little since then. I’ve learnt that I need time alone sometimes. In these moments, I may allow an emotion to float to the surface. I may even write about it on here a little. My technique is nowhere near perfected though. That is a definite.
All this information isn’t new. And it kind of depresses me (excuse the pun) that at 41, I still haven’t figured it all out. Is that what life is?
Tonight I had two realisations that may help my journey of helping myself.
I have talked of my eldest son previously: he has ADHD and is likely to have autism too although this is still being investigated. Over the years, I have learned his triggers and have become better at understanding and managing them.
What I’ve never realised, is that I have my own too. Odd, as I have also written that I suspect that I have something too.
Tonight’s trigger resulted in another emotion filled dialogue with Wild Card. It’s not an argument. But it’s not nice either.
In hindsight, I realised the following:
There’s an external trigger.
I mull over it in my head
I try not to – try to be positive, ignore it
I fail and it turns in to either a spontaneous outburst or
He notices I’m mulling and makes me tell him
I tell him the surface issue
He doesn’t react how I want him to
The floodgates open – defences come down, and all sorts of buried thoughts and emotions erupt
He talks me down
I think that he is better off without me/I’m ruining our relationship
He calms me and eventually tell me what I needed to hear
I ponder and realise he was right all along
Of course, I wonder why he can’t tell me what I want to hear straight away. Cut out the middle man. Go straight to the soothing part.
I love everything about him. Yes, sometimes I wish he was a little more forthcoming. But I wouldn’t change him. Who he is now, is who I love. What I think I wish for says more about me than him.
And one of the things I love about him is the way he makes me think differently. Yes, it’s tough. He just to wade through emotions and preconditioned thoughts and ideas…but eventually he gets there. And when he does, something in my head shifts, just a little.
He tells me what I need to hear.
Truth is, I realise that I do indeed have triggers. Now I need to learn how to self soothe them. Deal with them. Not push them away, because then they grow stronger – from a two headed monster to a multi headed monster.
The second realisation, which again was pretty obvious now I know it, is that I try to self soothe with food.
The food numbs my brain, just a little. Some attention is siphoned off my problem and onto the food. The saltiness of the tortilla chips. The sweetness of the chocolate. My brain goes into an involuntary tug of war between problem and taste sensations. The more my problem wins, the more I cram into my mouth to balance it.
Then, one of two things happens.
A tsunami of binge-created guilt hits me. Success! My problem is now forgotten in the complete self loathing that is dominating my every thought. It’s a week trodden path of working out how much I’ve blown it, hating myself for doing it…etc etc.
The other is that I eat to the point of fullness or sickness. Once again, bingo! My physical feelings overpower anything else in my head. This is a pretty nasty one because it is a two hitter- the guilt surely follows the physical feeling.
Therefore, my realisation is that I eat to feel not to numb.
Wednesday was a day of promise and productivity. Thursday was a slump day that slid into a morose Friday.
I’ve bought a book from my favourite motivation speaker, Mel Robbins. I couldn’t read it. I’ve still got my online interview to complete and two courses to start. I did neither.
Instead, I meandered around the house, aimlessly trying to find motivation only to somehow find myself back in bed. My settlement letter finally arrived – recorded delivery, so they didn’t need to keep calling to ask if it had arrived.
My cat walked in dripping with blood from an unknown source. A £220 trip to the vet later and we are still hoping he will be ok.
I had two missed calls from an unknown mobile number. No messages left. That had me in an anxious state for hours until they called back and it was Occupational Health organising a meeting.
And whilst the celebration of Eid means my gorgeous boyfriend is less hangry and tired, three days of family time means reduced time for me. He still called and text regularly and told me he loved me and missed me, but calls were short. I know I am being completely selfish here. I just really needed him and wanted him.
My sister chose this week to have another argument about him. Whilst inunderstand her caution and wariness, the only arguments she has for me not being with him are:
Her disbelief in long distance relationships.
Hardly concrete arguments. I said she is prejudiced and negative and whilst I understand her concern, she doesn’t need to bring it up all the time and be critical without just cause. Apparently because she loves me and has known me the longest, I should listen to her. I do, I just don’t need to hear it all the time. Or see the look on her face.
My other sister, whilst generally supportive and stuck in the middle, is going through her own crisis at the moment. Covid has delayed her nursing career starting (ironic, I know). She is anxious, paranoid and is arguing with her husband. She doesn’t listen and she doesn’t let things go. She is also constantly needing financial help – fine, when I have the money, but I don’t know how long I will have it for.
So, in summary: I’m feeling very, very sorry for myself. I feel like I am kicked from all angles.
Last night, my ex came by my house to pick up my daughter and to collect various items as it was his turn to have the children.
My beautiful boy: my ADHD, autistic 14 year old was in despair. He wouldn’t speak. He didn’t want to leave. He started crying, hyperventilating. Finally, finally, after a big hug he opened up.
He hates seeing me sad. He is worried about me being alone. He is scared that I am going to commit suicide.
And that, friends, was the biggest kick up the backside, slap in the face, reality check I needed.
How I handle this situation is going to affect my children. In a way, this could teach them the power of resilience and positive thinking.
Or, I could continue to feel sorry for myself and let them suffer as they watch me indulgence self pity.
So, this morning, I have got up: washed, dressed, applied make up. I’ve planned my meals for the week. I’m now going to start some housework. This weekend I will get the house in order. Monday, I am going to get my career sorted. Or start to.
I’m going to have bad days. That’s normal. My kids need to see that too. But they need to see that giving up is not an option, and the strong mother they have known is still there.
I’m freezing but I don’t care. Tonight was a late one from work with two meetings and my youngest’s parents’ evening.
I got in, weary, and out the oven on for something to eat. I let the dog out and was about to make a fire when my sister called: she’d made my tea!
I drove the short distance to her house and had the most delicious tea. We chatted about work and I told her that I’d had a good day.
As I drove home, happily satiated, I thought about my good day. Work has been much better with my temporary role snc I’ve really enjoyed it. I feel like I’ve achieved something. I’ve taken on a couple of new classes and they’re going really well. I’ve only got four weeks left though until I return to my old role. I’m not sure how I feel about that. I know there will be changes again next term so I am probably going to hold out for that. It good to feel good about my job again though.
It then got me thinking about how far I’ve come this last year. I’m proud of myself for getting through it. A part of me felt a twinge of guilt though: I never imagined feeling this way again when Dad died. But then I think it’s more that I’m managing it better. I think about him every day still but I don’t think about it, just the good things if I can.
I got home at 9.15pm and as there was no heating on, let the dog out and then I’ve come to bed early. It’s warmer under this duvet.
Bumble is proceeding slowly. I’m talking to two men now although one has gone quiet. I’ve matched and messaged six others. Four that I matched with yesterday have not responded and so have disappeared. It still puzzles me but as I far there seem to be plenty more potentials do I will stick with it for now.
Although I’m only due back into work tomorrow, I went in today for a couple of hours and I’ve not long been home.
Tomorrow I was supposed to be in all day but due to my one hour early dart on Monday, we have decided that I will leave at lunch tomorrow too (1.30pm instead of 3.15pm.)
I decided to go in today for a couple of reasons. First, because I needed to keep up that momentum and this was easy to face as I was in control. Second so I could fully prepare for tomorrow. Thirdly to show willing. Yes, I got a bit freaked out on my first day back but I really am trying.
My boss requested a meeting this morning to catch up and discuss how the first day had gone. I was honest. I told them it was harder than I thought it would be and explained why. I also discussed some issues hat had been playing on my mind. They were understanding. They reiterated that my wellbeing was paramount. And, in hindsight I have realised, they have said they think I am rushing my return.
Not so much that I shouldn’t be back (although that question has been asked) but that we are rushing the phasing. We are going to review in a week’s time.
As you can imagine, I’ve been deep in thought even since. First is the fear that they think you’re still ill (am I missing something they are seeing). Then you question what you’ve told them and said. Then… Are they right? Am I putting too much pressure on myself?
I just want to be back in work as normal.
Part of the originally planned phasing has altered to be fair. My first week was supposed to be about just going in for teaching which meant a few half days. It didn’t happen due to them needing to change my timetable in my absence so that all my teaching is now on two full days. Throw in a snow day and the first week was a bust – I didn’t go in. This week was supposed to be me in all the time but catching up on administrative duties but due to the timetable this ended up being a planned two day teaching week. Sound good? It isn’t. Too much on a day for a first return and those days off in between are not really getting me used to going back in.
So yes, in a way the phased return has been condensed. I’m eager to get back to normal and have high expectations of myself. But I’m being advised by so many people not to rush it.
This could mean that I don’t go back to full duties for a while instead of on the 9th April as planned.
I just want to feel normal! I just want to get on with my job and my role and have the impact that I have always had.
But I don’t want to be ill again.
Anyone got on advice or experience of phased returns?