25 March 2020

#2-positivity journey.

I wrote this all before the COVID-19 outbreak, and never got round to publishing it, yet it seems more apt than ever. It is such a tense, scary time to be alive. There is so much uncertainty and fear, and everything seems so very overwhelming. Every time I go to work, I worry that this will be the day I catch it, that I’ll bring it home, that I’ll infect someone I love, and it's bloody terrifying.
 On the flip side—those who are hoarding toilet roll and pasta aside—the way people have stepped up for society is truly awe-inspiring. The hospitals, the supermarkets, the public transport, the teachers, all these people who too often get overlooked, are helping keep some semblance of normality for us, and they cannot be praised enough. No matter how dark things may get, the gratitude we should feel for them should always shine bright. It’s so important in times like these that we always look for that light, because we’d be lost without it.

Recently I’ve been trying to lead a more ‘positive lifestyle’. Nothing particularly dramatic—I haven’t signed up to retreat to connect with nature, or commune with my inner spirit animal or anything like that (although, for the record, definitely something cool like a tiger, and not the more likely scenario of a sloth). I’m just trying to be kinder to myself, not letting the little voice in my head convince me that every bad thought I’d ever had is true—that everything is my fault, that those people are definitely laughing at me, that everyone thinks I’m a bad person, that I deserve to hurt, all that fun stuff. I’ll not lie; it’s tough to train yourself out of thinking the worst about yourself when you have been doing it for so long. 

I’ve been having a difficult time with my depression. I’m used to my sadness being a constant companion; like a friend who doesn’t realise the party is over and follows you around making ‘jokes’ that are meant to be funny, but are just kind of mean. That sad, angry little voice that disguises itself as your pal, that tells you all the things you think you need to hear because it’s true. That voice is, frankly, a little bitch. Professionally, I’ve had a tough time at work—not knowing where I was going to be, how I was going to get there, if I would like it there. Changes like that are tough for anyone, particularly tough for someone who has a small breakdown over ordering first at a restaurant. (I desperately want to pretend that last part is a joke, it’s not, it has absolutely happened.) I spent most of the past 3 months alternating between panic attacks, crying, lying and staring at the ceiling for hours, feeling sick all the time, and just being really angry. I just felt so incredibly defeated by something that I couldn’t comprehend. I’m good at my job. I’m good with customers, I’m good at helping, and I’m hardworking, so to be treated like that was heartbreaking, because I didn’t know what I’d done wrong. My anxiety flared up in the worst way— I couldn’t sit still, I was agitated constantly, and my brain would not.fucking.settle. The blind panic was the worst, because that led to the crying, then the fear, then the mind-numbing realisation that this was going to happen all over again tomorrow. There were points, when I would just look at Eli, desperate to play with me, and I would just think I was utterly useless I was to this child. This ray of sunshine and happiness, who just wanted me to do something, and I was just gripped by this terrifying wave of ineptitude. I could do nothing for this kid, because I could do nothing for myself. I would look into his face that held nothing but adoration, and all I could think was ‘you deserve a better mum’. 

After a while, the neverending onslaught of shitty thoughts and panic attacks just became the norm, I’d be walking through Tesco thinking about pointless things I wanted to buy, like the iridescent shell penholder currently sitting on my desk, and then the next thought would be ‘imagine how sweet it would be to just disappear’ and I’d find myself nodding along like those are two perfectly normal thoughts to put together, and then I’d get distracted by a mug I didn’t need. This constant train of incoherent thoughts that would ebb and flow, until one day, in a moment of clarity, I realised it probably wasn’t normal to daydream about just disappearing. I booked an appointment with the doctor, swore I wasn’t going to cry again, cried everywhere, and then was prescribed anti-anxiety medication. In my head, part of me thought I had failed in my control because I had done well without medication for so long, I always managed to reign myself back in when it got bad before. The funny thing is, I would slap anyone else silly who had that same thought about themselves. Imagine thinking you failed because you needed medication? It’s like saying that a cancer patient needing chemo failed because they couldn’t cure themselves with their minds. I never cured myself before, I just handled it, and sometimes handling it isn’t enough. Sometimes you need help. Along with the medication, I decided to take an approach a previous counsellor had suggested to me. I decided to try to not just focus on all the shitty things that happened, I would try and find just two good things that happened each day. Two things, so that when I was feeling low, it would force me to think about my day, to search for something that made me smile, if only for a moment, so I’d know that not everything is awful. It’s not revolutionary, but it works. Some days it’s really, really hard, some days it’s not, but the main thing is that I have managed to find something for each day, and that’s a big thing for me, and I’m proud of myself for trying.

I hope you’re all well, take care of yourselves and each other.
I’ll write to you soon,

Motherhood, films, beauty, and life



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