So I woke up today feeling rather fresh considering last nights antics. So you would think I am in a good mood and feeling positive. WRONG. I hate my life today, I hate all the bullshit that comes with being a parent, and an adult, and a semi functioning human being.
One conversation I had recently about how I have mainly slept during my latest episode was met with ‘well it must be nice to re join the land of the living, and take things slowly’. Err no. Despite ‘checking out’ and not interacting with the world, it didn’t mean the world wanted to stop interacting with me, however much I was ignoring everything and everyone. I still have responsibilities and obligations and that doesn’t stop because I’m unwell. What happens is things build up, and when you feel well again, it’s like a tsunami of shit to deal with and it does not take long before you feel overwhelmed. Like today.
I have so many plates spinning right now it really will not be long before they all come crashing down. My eldest son is in the middle of being assessed for autism, and its been a long fight to get him here. He has been through hell this past six months. He has numerous appointments every week, as well as meetings at his school, 35 page referral letters we have to fill in, and his everyday life to manage, including his homework, the preparations for his SATS and the pressure the kids are put under for that (which is disgusting in my view, 10/11 year olds should not be feeling exam stress) occupational therapy exercises for muscle weakness, and just the stress of living with an autistic child. My daughter has been referred to a speech therapist by nursery, despite my maintaining she doesn’t need a speech therapist, she needs a swear jar. (Not helped by her mother, who has a foul temper and a foul mouth and who needs her own swear jar). She has no trouble in communicating, it’s just the issue of what she is communicating and how she is doing it that is really bringing home living with a toddler dictator. That does not stop the need for a five page referral form I have to fill in, appointments I have to take her to and again, living with a demanding three year old.
I have opened letters from my psychiatrist, because over Christmas I stopped going to appointments (or out of the house in general), and he is now writing to me demanding I show myself before I’m removed from his list. Another thing to sort out. As well as all the appointments I have to attend, my other son who was born with bilateral talipes is having a relapse (his feet are turning back in and he’s getting painful cramping in the balls of his feet, and his calfs and ankles) so again is having to attend the outpatients clinic at hospital again as well as the physiotherapy that goes with it. That’s without the usual household admin, bill paying (another thing I blanked while unwell) so catching up with that, and university. That is really biting me on the arse. My big oversized arse that needs shrinking rapidly seeing as my clothes are hanging on by a thread (like literally when I put them on, my muffin top has become a cake shelf).
None of these things are things that can be left until later. They are all things which now are pretty urgent because I have been unwell and ignored them for so long they are all now time sensitive. Which means instead of spending a Sunday dealing with different things getting it all sorted out and organised, I’ve realised the sheer amount I have going on right now, and I’m totally overwhelmed. That’s without even adding in that I’m still in recovery, reeling from bad news about my friend and trying to find the focus and the motivation to deal with all of this. AND BREATHE.
So I hate life today. I’m likely to be in the foulest of all moods all week. My good friend Jonathan, and Paul both agree that when I am in a foul mood, I’m exactly like the Nan from the Catherine Tate Show, no one is safe from the wrath of Nan. I’m even called Joanie by Jonathan and the worst part about it is that several other people have made that connection without me saying anything. So ‘what a fucking liberty’ is all you will likely hear out of me for the week now.
The worst part of it I have no one to blame for this current mess but me. I didn’t ask for help, or explain what I had going on, and I didn’t trust anyone else to handle things, but I didn’t bother handling them myself. This sticking my head in the sand approach has helped no one, especially not me, and I’m now in for one hell of a week trying to even begin sorting all of this out. Apart from feeling overwhelmed I’m scared. Scared that this feeling of being overwhelmed and not in control or organised (which is something I absolutely detest) will lead to a relapse, and more than anything I do not want to go back to where I have just been. It is no exaggeration I would rather break every bone in my body than go back there.
The recent tragic passing of Carrie Fisher made me pause and think. I think Carrie Fisher did not get the recognition she deserved for what she did for awareness of mental illness and challenging the attitudes towards it. If Ellen DeGeneres got the presidential medal of freedom I think Carrie Fisher should have had one years ago. She admitted to having Bipolar, long before having Bipolar was seen by Hollywood and the idiot hangers on as being ‘in’ or the mental illness of the moment. Her honesty in her condition, and her humour about it made it easier for people like me who were coming to terms with their diagnosis and condition.
Even Winston Churchill, the war time prime minister, and arguably one of the first images that comes to mind when you see the union jack, or the British bull dog, admitted to periods of dark depression. His ‘black dog’. There was no official diagnosis released, but you can see from his diaries and accounts, and accounts from people around him, he clearly suffered from a mood disorder. Now if Churchill could run a country in one of the worst times in it’s history whilst dealing with mental illness, and Carrie Fisher could have her career and success, why can’t I deal with the issues in my life. I don’t have half on my plate as they had on theirs, yet here I am moaning.
Everyone has their own coping strategies, and a plan of attack for stuff like this, and I need to work out what mine is. Maybe take my own advice, of one foot in front of the other, one day at a time. I know what needs doing, I just need to do it. I also need to pull my sleep patterns back to normal, because despite not sleeping all the time, I am now up all night, and have to cat nap in the day which is helping nobody, especially me. I have to share with Paul what I have on, and let him help. I have to realise I won’t get everything done at once, and some things will have to wait. All of this sounds really simple when laid out like this, but doing it will be another challenge.
When you are ill, and you have conversations with doctors and other professionals about how to manage your condition, you are always given the same (
stupid and obvious) advice. Keep to a routine, eat well, sleep well, take your medication like a good little zombie, and just focus on doing that. Well that is all well and good doc, but what about when life comes and kicks you up the arse. Life is an equal opportunities bitch and comes for everyone regardless of age, illness or whether you deserve it to or not. It does not discriminate. You would think with what I’ve been through, and what I’ve had come at me the past few days I could catch a break. But no. Saying that, I don’t believe I deserve one more than anyone else, there are people out there who have it a lot worse than me. A good friend of mine has just found out her sister has cancer, and this is someone who over the years has had so much shit thrown at them that I’m surprised she is still moving. She just keeps going though, without any bitterness or sadness. She is genuinely a glass half full type of woman, and is someone I think about often when I’m moaning about my life. I think if she can get through that and keep smiling, I can get through this. Though I’ve never said this to her, at times her bravery made me brave. Or at least try to be brave.
But again, this brings me to the other point I want to make. You shouldn’t compare your experiences with other people like you have to justify feeling sad. Like there is a criteria to make it acceptable to feel down. You may know someone who has had a bad time, and think well who I am to feel depressed when you look at so and so. I haven’t had it as bad as them. Or I feel down but they tried to kill themselves, or they are on medication, or stronger medication, or have been ill for longer so I should count myself lucky and stay quiet. It is ok to use other people experiences to help drag yourself up, like I do with my friend when I need courage, but not to keep yourself down. Just because what is traumatic or upsetting for you, isn’t to other people doesn’t lessen the experience you have. Some people take bereavement in different ways. Members of the same family may react differently to the loss of the same relative, but that’s ok. Different things effect different people in different ways. Like I’ll keep saying its ok to not be ok. Its ok not to be ok and not really have a reason for it. There is no emotional yard stick, or tick box or criteria, where someone will say, ok you can be depressed, or down, or feel low, you’ve proved your case.
What is not ok is to let these feelings go on without confronting them. By that I mean not talking about them or if they persist, going to see your GP. What I want is for people to see being mentally unwell, the same as having a broken arm or leg. With a broken bone you know what is wrong, and that it can be fixed, and you can see the problem and make sense of it. Mental illness is not all that different. It is almost physical if you think the chemicals in our brains and our hormones play a big part. So think of being mentally unwell, the same as having a broken arm. You have to treat it, it will get better, and you cant ignore it. It’s not strange or weak. Everyone can relate, as everyone at some point in their lives will be mentally unwell. Whether its grief, post natal depression, stress, anxiety, depression, everyone will experience it in some form at some point. So its not cheesy to say you’re not alone, because if you were to look around your friends and family, someone will either be going through the same, or have been through it.
So I am off to finish my ‘fuck my life’ tantrum. A good old fashioned things to do list will be the start I think. Followed by a cup of tea and a biscuit. (Digestives are an under rated biscuit, and the fixer of many a crisis in Laura land). Then I’ll crack on. Don’t get me wrong I’m going to whinge about it. But its time I put my big girl pants on (Bridget Jones style granny pants given the size of my newly inflated arse) and just got on with it. One thing at a time, until I’m all sorted out. Wish me luck.
Laura 🙂 x