I’ve been thinking about getting back to writing for months, but something always gets in the way. Life has thrown some spectacular curve balls my way over the last few months, and it came to a head in recent weeks with the most serious dip in mood I’ve had in a long time. It was bad enough that I went to my GP to beg for emergency meds, and self harm became a feature again. Back in January, when I wrote this, I was convinced, utterly and completely that neither of those things would ever come back into my life, and yet they did. Why?
Because despite everything I’ve learned, everything I now know, I let myself get overwhelmed. I refused to slow down, to make space to think, to acknowledge that the demands I was making of myself were too much. I came as close to depressed as I’m prepared to come, but not because of chemicals, not because I’m sick. Because of life, and my reactions to it.
I was so excited to finally be free of labels and therapy and meds (almost), that I think I forgot maintaining mental and emotional health is a way of life. I still tend towards all or nothing – I’m being super healthy or I’m not, I’m being the most mindful ever or I’m not – but that’s useless. Everything in moderation, right? The scales have always got to be balanced, and today is a perfect example.
One of my dogs has taken to crying at night, which means for the last 3 nights my sleep has been disturbed. Tiredness is my achilles heel, it will break me sooner than anything else. It clouds my judgement, makes me snappy and irritable beyond belief, anxiety is heightened and all my old negative thought processes are much more likely to take over. I make poor decisions, and I will almost always push myself to keep going rather than accepting that with this level of tiredness, there is a limit to what I can do.
Today is different. I woke up in foul form because I was tired, and likely already steeling myself for the snappy day ahead. But I recognised that I was tired, so instead of fighting with the kids to get dressed, turn off the screens, get fed etc etc, I joined them on the sofa. I half dozed, half watched really messed up cartoons. I reminded myself many, many times that I am not damaging them by doing this, or by letting them have a lazy morning. When we did eventually get dressed, we took our doggy house guest out for an incredibly slow stroll – he’s an old man and cannot go either far or fast, so I had no choice but to slow down to his pace. The kids went on ahead, so there was just me, the dog, and extremely slow, almost meditative walking. He forced me to slow down in a way nothing else could have today, and it turned both my mood and my morning around. I left the house thinking – walk Cooper, come home, brush all the dogs, hoover, do the bathrooms, figure out where I’m taking the kids, maybe get the rest of the school stuff, maybe do the shopping……lots. Busy mind. And when I came home, do you know what I was thinking? Coffee. Banana bread. Sit in the garden. And that’s it.
It’s been said to me that I write like I walk – big rush to achieve a goal and then leave it behind. Not today. I went out with a goal, and came home with space. None of my list has been done, other than walking the dog, and I’m not sure how much of it will get done at all. But that’s ok, because I’m calm. My anxiety has reduced, and I’ve found my way back here.
I thought I didn’t need to write any more, that I had come to the end of the road with blogging, with mental health stuff, that there was nothing left to share. In actual fact, I think I may have walked away just as I was getting to the good part, the part where I work out what comes next. Where I realise that to achieve anything at all, I need to get comfortable with slowing down to the point where I achieve nothing, or at least nothing that can be checked off a to do list.
It’s too easy to get caught up in life, to get swept along by the pace of everything around us. It would have been AMAZING to give in to the xanax. Briefly. And then it would have been horrible, because it would have worn off and left me exactly where I started, only worse for having had a false reprieve. I came way too close to being depressed, but I caught it, and now I’m turning it around. Again. It’s what I do 🙂
I don’t want to keep running through my life, rushing to get to the end of one thing and move on to the next. I don’t particularly want to slow down and think about the hard stuff either. But one of those options will break me, and one will ultimately make my life better. Today, I didn’t walk like I usually do, and it was wonderful. I set out to write a post, so in a sense, yes, I achieved my goal. But rather than simply hitting publish and walking away, I’m going to keep these thoughts rolling around the back of my mind, and stay (as much as multiple kids and dogs will allow) with the sense of calm I have now. I’m going to watch what my breath is doing, and if it gets shallow, I’m going to pause. When I get too tired, I’ll sit and close my eyes. Today will not be about doing, but being.