What’s up with me today?

I’m kind of stuck in a never ending circle that I feel weighing more heavily today. There’s that unexplained background anxiety… what’s that for? Am I mistaking the the name? The label? The anxiety itself?

Is it really the unexplained terror I fear it is, or will be – or is it something else less threatening? I’m starting to question it this evening. Just because  today feels worse than some other days, does that have to mean it’s something real? So, ok it’s real because I feel it but I don’t know why. It’s one of those days when you feel it grabbing at you and it makes me feel wary. Is it safer to just stay in bed? Thing is, it’s there and I’m fearful of it taking over , of course that’s not really helpful for feeling bright and sunny!

Deep joy.

So. Does it help to hang a different label on it? Maybe to cope with today’s anxiety I’ve got to accept it but not give it more importance than it deserves. There are many things wrong and worrying at the moment but I know there are good things around too. Funny how we never chase happy thoughts around and round till we feel exhausted with it… I want to give my feelings the respect they deserve but I don’t need the rock around my neck. Staying tucked away safe and snug out of sight, maybe the monster called Anxiety won’t notice me? Yeah – fat chance. This reminds me of trying to stay out of sight of the school bullies, the overwhelming thought of what you have to face if it sees you and you can’t get away. Because of never having had any help and learning to face them, dreading having to go alone and tough it out, never  learning any coping strategies except trying to get away, there are no strategies in place to deal with facing Anxiety either ( or depression ) and when you’re stuck in the cycle it’s hard to teach yourself how to cope.

What’s up with today anyway? I have no clue why today feels worse than other days but it does help a bit to remember it’s not as though I’ve never been worse and still emerged the other side. I am not a complete idiot ( some parts are missing ) and I do know enough to keep myself afloat. Just about… it’s that or sink with style!

If it’s true that feeling anxious about something – or even about nothing – is the old ‘fight or flight’ adrenaline kicking in then maybe that could be used for something wonderful. I’m thinking use this anxiety to fuel something useful  ( As  much as it seems like a waste of good adrenaline to be useful instead of wonderful it’s the best I can do at short notice) and help myself a little… Wish me luck…

xx

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Parenting with depression

 

I’m so worried about my children. I feel as though I can’t cope with the stress well. I’m so anxious. Why can’t I get on with  being a strong calm capable parent who is a great role model? Other people can do it, why can’t I?

I feel as though I worry too much and I show it, they shouldn’t see me like this.

Ok. So starting from the top – it’s ok to be worried about your family, that’s part of the joys of parenting! Along with the love comes worry at every stage of their lives and showing them you worry is part of the balancing act that being a parent is. Every day we juggle our lives to do the best for them and often we put what’s best for us last. But you have a real obligation to teach them that it’s normal and natural to have negative experiences and it’s how you go forward (even if it’s slowly!)  and you show them you love them that matters the most. Of course you don’t want them to see you in a mess but we do have to remember that we are who we are and hiding every sign of trouble won’t help set them up to cope with their own problematic feelings. We need to show them that mental illness isn’t something to be ashamed of.

There are so many ways of helping yourself get through the stressful times but when you’re in the middle of a stressful situation you often can’t see a way forward. What matters here is remembering that there is a way, we have to find the one that works for us. After all our worries and stress are individual to us so the way forward will be too, yes? A few ideas that I try to do include

  • Try to get some exercise. Even a short brisk walk can help,it releases feel good hormones and helps to ease the feelings of  ‘fight or flight’ that stress gives us. If you work maybe you could get a quick walk in at lunchtime or after work? If you have small kids at home strap them in the buggy and off you go. Often though if you’ve got more than one it’s not practical to go for some sort of power walk so maybe try some fun exercises at home that they can do with you? Or you could try a quick exercise routine when they have a nap? Or maybe try dancing to the radio with them? You might not feel like dancing and singing but it can really help.
  • I spend a lot of time with my animals. My dogs give me unending love and never judge me or think I’m stupid. They have saved my life and are always there, ready to just be with me, no matter what.
  • Sounds obvious but lack of sleep is a real downer. A routine can really help and maybe trying some relaxation techniques before bed. I’m still struggling with this one!
  • Make a list of things you have to do, try to prioritise and a big thing is then crossing them off the list as you go – but really, don’t try to do it all at once. I keep a diary and try to complete one or two really important things a week and those days  I’m feeling stronger I can complete more. I also sometimes note the things I have done during the day, even if its only getting a meal on the table. You can then look back over your week and feel proud that you have managed to complete some of those things!
  • Not everyone can present a calm front without fail. In fact most people have moments they feel they can’t help showing their feelings. I believe it’s reasonable to show your family that it’s ok to have strong feelings. It’s not possible for me to present a perfect image to absolutely everyone and I have to have somewhere or someone I can trust to express some of my feelings too. I’m still trying to learn not to feel guilty about burdening others with my pain and fear but I fully support others needing someone to talk to so why can’t I accept that I deserve the same? Maybe being a great role model includes showing that having difficulties is ok. That we are allowed to have sadness and fearful thoughts, that depression isn’t a shameful condition we have brought on ourselves.
  • Its no use comparing ourselves to others. We are all different, individuals with our own problems and others have their problems too. There are many things about you ( and me! ) that are great, I’m trying to learn to appreciate my better points, that’s part of this journey I’m on. It’s hard because my natural mindset defaults to feeling like shit but somewhere in there there is someone who is doing it, putting one foot in front of the other. Maybe sometimes it’s one step forward and two back but I’m trying to find my way.
  • Seeking help for depression from professional bodies is the way forward but for me trying to learn a bit more about depression and anxiety has helped  me understand myself better and not be quite so hard on myself every time. I just wish I could do better with that one. I’m hoping to improve that as I go on this journey and hoping that I can learn more about how to cope as I go.

 

A beginning, of sorts

This journey started early one morning nearly 50 years ago… when I was born.

I didn’t know it but my life wasn’t going to run along the tracks as smoothly as I imagined everybody else’s did.

I was always shy, as far back as I can remember with a general dread of being left by my loved ones. No, I never knew why but I had a deep feeling of fear , being alone, being left, being rejected. Not good enough… strange really as I had a good childhood with a loving family.

There have been some really pretty awful times, there have been some really great times. But somehow that feeling of dread, guilt, fear of rejection, fear of being found out that I didn’t really belong stuck with me and it brought it’s friends to the party too.

I was born and brought up in a village in the countryside, I loved the nature around me, loved being off to the woods on my own – hang on! Didn’t I just say I had a fear of being alone? Ah, but no one said this flood of feelings was going to be easy. No, for me being left alone and choosing to take off on my own were two very different things and the two made for an interesting mix – not forgetting our old friends dread, guilt,fear, rejection anxiety, a growing social anxiety along with a ton of other things I couldn’t put a finger on.

Anyway, back to the woods and fields. Oh I so wanted a dog, man’s best friend. All that unconditional love. I desperately wanted a pony too. Who needs human friends when surrounded by all that love? I knew with no shadow of doubt my parents loved me too, but of course there was always that self doubt and loathing. I wasn’t really deserving of that love, right?

Time went by. Primary school was bearable, more or less -until early puberty started to stick it’s nose in. Totally uncalled for, in my opinion. Also totally unwelcome! All those hormones milling about, causing no end of chaos.

Secondary school started bad, got worse and went rapidly downhill from there. My parents were unendingly patient which I rewarded accordingly by becoming a bit of a wild child. Psychiatric treatment followed, a resounding failure in my opinion.It certainly didn’t touch the subject of my private agony, didn’t address the severe bullying I was subjected to, that I was ashamed to tell my parents the extent of, the attacks that got gradually worse, the rapidly growing gulf between me and ‘them’ , my supposed peers. I learned to pretend it wasn’t happening, hadn’t happened and when I couldn’t escape I found a front to put on, to hide the vunerable me and bluff over my terror. Becoming a bit wild was a response and I loved that side of my life.

So it went on. And on.

Anyway, enough of that for now. It was the start of this journey I’ve been on, am still on. Funnily enough I don’t know if I would change it if I could. Maybe I’m finally learning that although I have mental health issues I also have worth?

Because what I’d like to share with anyone who can find a scrap of help in my ramblings is that no one should be defined by what someone else thinks, what they say, the shape someone else puts us in. It’s what we think of ourselves that matters and no matter how much you hate yourself there is good in you. There will be something that someone likes about you. Maybe there are even people that admire things in you. Somehow that voice of shame or despair is always louder and more insistant but take the good times on board. Its lonely feeling vunerable and exposed but there are people out there who understand the pain. Sometimes it’s easier to open up to someone you don’t know, that won’t be hurt by or afraid of your pain. Those bad days are so exhausting, it sometimes somehow feels much easier and less hassle to just hide it as best you can and carry on but reaching out for help is such a big step towards believing in yourself. Don’t give up.

I will also add that of course approaching your doctor or healthcare professional is to be recommended. I am in no way a trained health provider, mental health or any other.

The only training I’ve had is in life!