(First published on The Contented Calf website on Thursday 11th October 2018. We were approaching being back in the UK one year, and I was thinking about my own mental health)
With yesterday being World Mental Health Day, the @socialmums #SocialMumsOct challenge topic being Fear and me watching @staceydooley’s Fashions Dirty Secrets, it seemed like this post should be a combination of all three.
Mental Health is something I’ve been learning more about over the past few years. It is indeed a strange beast, because everything on the surface seems to be more than OK. I truly lead a very privileged life, essentially wanting for nothing.
All I know is there have been times when, despite all that, I couldn’t cope.
When 9YO was very little, I would at times cry and at times feel empty and blank. It was so hard to define what was going on. It wasn’t that I was never able to find joy in things – lots of things would bring me happiness, make me smile or make me laugh. And I never felt like I couldn’t get out of bed. There was just lots of times when the underlying starting point for the day was one of blankness – that’s the best way I can describe it.
And again, after we’d moved to the US, there were times when the tears would just flow out of me. It’s such a strange feeling, feeling so sad, but without there actually being anything to feel sad about.
It was just over a year into our living there when I started taking Omega 3 oils, and for me they really helped (or seem to have done). It wasn’t that things weren’t stressful, or that I didn’t ever feel sad, but I just felt more able to cope in general and bounce back to a happier base point
More recently, in Spring / Summer this year I went through a period of feeling crazily anxious. There was no discernible reason for the anxiety, simply an absolutely scared/panicked feeling – randomly at times presenting itself in extreme vertigo.
I think it was a combination of hitting 40, still not entirely sure what my life-plan was (especially work-wise), two international moves in four years with two kids in tow, a husband who at times works long hours / abroad, feeling very pulled in two re: desire to work, desire to be there for the girls, scared that if I didn’t nail work right NOW that I was suddenly wake up and be 60 and have ‘missed’ the opportunity to thrive in a work place, seeing the world in such a mess politically, socially and environmentally, etc etc etc.
I saw a counsellor, I made yoga a priority, I listened to my meditation app on over-load, I withdrew from social media a good deal, I tried not to worry so much about making every single decision the environmentally correct one, I tried to take the advice “if you want to change the world, go home and love your family” and not to worry so much about (single-handedly) fixing all the problems that need fixing.
And I’m happy to say, I feel much better and haven’t had a relapse.
But I do fear it. I fear that I’ll be sitting here, all pretty and smug that I’ve ‘cracked it’ and that all is good, and wham! a crippling wave of anxiety will hit.
I also have hope though.
I think/hope I’m a little more aware and can feel myself getting overwhelmed.
Like last night, I watched @staceydooley’s #FashionsDirtySecrets, which was brilliant – shocking and depressing. It’s yet another environmental disaster that seems like a huge mountain to climb that’s unclimbable…
If I can’t wear #cotton (I even googled #organic cotton, but seems like you have to be super cautious there too), what the blazes can I wear? Anything synthetic creates plastic-microfibres, so that’s a no. Hemp? Tencel? And where do I even find that?
I’m trying to step away slightly from fixing the problem then and there, and just letting the information slowly work its way through my brain, soul, life gradually. And just to trust that over time I will course-correct. And to treat myself like an ocean-liner rather than a speed-boat in terms of changing directions.
Who knows if it will work? I’m guessing it won’t 100% of the time. I guess it can’t. But I will try to fear less and trust more.
Look after yourselves
As always, with love from our family to yours,