It’s okay not to be okay.
I’m not sure who said this first, but given this phrase is used so much now, does it need a citation? Feel free to tell me if you think it does.
Saturday 29th September, mid afternoon. The last few weeks have been really difficult for me. I came to the conclusion towards the end of August that my mental health was on the decline again. I took a couple of days off work, tried to focus on some ‘me’ time in the hope it would stave off a major decline. Unfortunately my girlfriend Megan ended up in hospital due to an exploded (or obliterated, as her surgeon put it) appendix, when 200 miles away from home visiting family, and my stress levels sky rocketed. My IBS flared up, and I ended off work in agony (painful gut, painful back) …and so far I haven’t managed to get myself back.
As the IBS flare up subsided, I found that anxiety was increased and all the symptoms of already heightened depression increased as well. I found myself feeling on the edge all of the time, and getting upset over the slightest thing. Life was proving a struggle for me without work; I found myself withdrawing from people and activities. I found (and still find) myself unable to contemplate returning to life including the pressure of ‘the daily grind’. I fear I will completely fall apart. It will go back, just not this precise moment in time.
I’m scared of being off work again. This is the third time in three years. But, I know that when I get this way, I need to stop, or risk pushing myself over the edge.
Me, right now.
I am sitting in a small room at the Moor House Adventure Centre close to Durham. Michael is running a Warhammer weekend event with the people that he podcast’s with and Megan and I usually help out with food. We are helping this time around however on a reduced scale, which is a good thing considering that Megan is still recovering from her surgery, and my anxiety levels are high.
I felt okay first thing this morning; I woke up early, started my morning off with tea and reading. It’s all been downhill from the moment I went into Gregg’s to pick up a stottie order and they claimed no knowledge of it. By mid afternoon, I was disassociating and wishing I was home.
Dissociation is a way the mind copes with too much stress. People who dissociate may feel disconnected from themselves and the world around them.
Friday 5th October, 19:59. It’s now almost a week since I actually started this blog post. Since last Saturday, Michael’s event came to an end, and at the close, I felt ready to shut myself away from everything and everyone for a long time. I didn’t, but I wanted to.
In all honesty, I wish I had not helped out at the weekender, but with Megan already at reduced capacity due to her surgery, I didn’t want to let Michael down. So I pushed through. It has taken me days to recover mentally (although, actually I don’t think I am ‘recovered,).
I am having weekly check ins with my boss during my absence from work, and my last was the day after the weekender. I explained to him how it went, and told him that in a way, I was / am thinking of the event as a ‘litmass test’ of my ability to handle stress. And I didn’t do very well at it.
I want to get back at work, but I know there is still work and time needed. It’s such a frustrating feeling, wanting things to return to normal yet living with the fear and anxiety of what will happen if I push too soon and it all topples down around me. I know I’m not quite there. It’s taken me all week just to bring myself to finish this blog post.
It’s no secret that getting away from it all, even for a couple of days, can do wonders for your mental health. Life these days is hectic, and we all need a break from the stresses and challenges of everyday life.
When you’re on holiday you can leave your worries behind, and focus on spending quality time with loved ones. Whether you’re dipping your toes into a pool, soaking up the sun on a beach, doing something active or experiencing a spot of culture, you’ll get a wonderful mental boost.
This evening, I am sat in a cottage nearly 3 hours drives from my home. The setting is quiet and peaceful. Over the next three days I am going to explore, to walk, to spend time with loved ones and soak in wonderful hot bubbles. This break away has been planned for months; it is an annual tradition to go away for my husbands birthday (which is today). In terms of helping to get my mental health back on track, it could not be better timed. A shift from the norm should helpful do me the world of good.
I have a plan laid out, and I have people around me who love and support me. I know I will get past this.